Swanson: College Activists, if You Want to Change Gun Control in America, Now is Your Chance

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By Gavin Swanson, Opinion Writer

We should all be fully aware by now of what happened in Parkland, Florida on the 14th of February, and we should all be equally upset that this isn’t an isolated incident. In the wake of another tragedy to target students simply going to school to obtain an education, it now becomes our duty to make the stand that students should have made a long time ago. It’s what should have happened after Columbine, Virginia Tech and Sandy Hook. As the targets of these attacks, it is our time, as students, to rise to the occasion and let it be known that this behavior will not be tolerated any longer.

The world was astonished when survivors of the Parkland shooting took to the microphone in front of news cameras to publicly voice their disdain and criticism at the powers that allowed the events to unfold. Tweets from students have called on people against gun control and put themselves at the forefront of the conversation. These actions are incredibly remarkable considering they are high school students and survivors of a recent, traumatic incident. Students nationwide have seen their demonstrations and have become inspired to stand up and demand a sensible change in gun laws.

It’s not a matter of the legality as to how the perpetrator acquired an AR-15 assault rifle because he purchased it legally. It’s not a matter of whether or not he cheated a background check because he passed it with a clean slate. It’s the simple fact that a weapon designed to kill as many people as possible was able to be purchased at all. We’re not talking about a hunting rifle or a handgun for self-defense. This is a semi-automatic version of the M16 assault rifle that we give to U.S. soldiers in combat.

The frustration grows when you understand that the Republican legislation will most likely not act in response. Too many of them receive obscene amounts of donations from the National Rifle Association to act against their interests. All we can expect from them are their thoughts and prayers. This is where we can step in.

Thanks to the students from Parkland who have opened the door, students are being heard in this discussion. On the 22nd of February, the first of the nationwide organized school walk-outs was held. Students in high schools and universities nationwide participated in a timed walk-out of their classes to bring out signs and protest the inaction of Congress and the Trump administration to protect their citizens from weapons of war. If you missed this first one, I encourage you to mark your calendar to participate in the next one. It will be held March 14 at 10:00 a.m., and they’re set to continue monthly until an adequate response is made.

It is also an election year. This upcoming November several congressmen have to defend their seats and some are running to fill Hatch’s senate position. This is probably the most powerful and direct way to make an impact on this matter. Vote in candidates who will take action and create sensible gun control laws. Whether that’s a ban on assault rifles, increased background checks, etc. It should be something to make sure that tragedies like this can be avoided.

17 students and teachers died and it could have been prevented. Now is our time to make sure that what happened in Columbine, Virginia Tech, Sandy Hook, Parkland and everywhere else doesn’t happen again. It could be as simple as walking out of a class, casting a vote or a peaceful protest. What matters is that we do something because until we do, no one else will.