My prayers and my pledge
This is not an easy post to write. I can't promise it will be the most eloquent post I make because at a time like this, I find words are simply failing to express my many thoughts and emotions. I'm going to give it my best effort.
Wednesday, February 14th, was my birthday. I was enjoying a nice day at home with my husband and my son, playing and watching the Olympics. And then the breaking news of yet another school shooting. This time, in my state. This time, at the high school I lived 5 minutes from for 2 and a half years. This time, in the city just named "safest city in Florida." This time, I cried knowing that this is the 2nd mass shooting in Florida in less than 2 years with an assault rifle. This time, it was the 17th shooting at a school in 2018. Not all of these shootings were intentional and not all of them caused injury or death. I think we can all agree though, that even 1 death is 1 too many.
My heart breaks for the victims and their families. It aches for those children who witnessed the unspeakable and will have to find a way to cope with it throughout the rest of their lives. I read their Twitter pages choking back tears and want to say "I'm sorry we didn't do more to protect you." I want to scream at the top of my lungs "ENOUGH!" We cannot allow this to happen to anyone ever again.
I'm tired of hearing "this isn't the time to talk about gun regulations." If not now, when? When is it the right time? The Orlando Pulse shooting was June of 2016. At no point in the 1 year and 8 months since then was it time to talk about it either apparently because no positive changes were made. Instead, the Florida House wants to allow people to obtain a concealed weapons permit even without a full background check being completed. How can we keep allowing this? How do we allow the discussion to be "mental illness is the problem" while allowing rollbacks on restrictions for mental illness and guns? How do we keep allowing "thoughts and prayers" to be the only response?
To be clear, gun regulations don't HAVE to mean banning all guns. It can mean banning certain types of guns and weapons or restricting access of guns to keep them out of the hands of some people. We already restrict types of weapons people can have (such as explosives and RPG). We also already place some restrictions on who can have guns (ex-felons for example). These are the types of common sense gun regulations that can help to prevent mass shootings. It is mind boggling that in Florida, an assault rifle can be purchased by an 18 year old with no waiting period while there's a 3 day waiting period and 21 year old minimum for a handgun. It doesn't make sense. This needs to be fixed. We've already seen that doing nothing doesn't fix the problem. NOW is the time to do SOMETHING.
I will continue to pray for the victims of this horrific tragedy just as I continue to pray for the victims of Las Vegas, Sandy Hook, and all the other mass shootings. But thoughts and prayers are meaningless without action. So I will pray, but I will also make a pledge. I will fight for the safety of our children. I will fight so that we can feel safe sending our children to school. I will fight so we can feel safe at concerts, movie theaters, and malls. I hope the current legislators will take action immediately but if they don't, I will be prepared to fight for changes that are long overdue.