On March 14, I stood up at 10 a.m. and walked out of my Business of Life class. I made my way to the field, where I stood with fellow members of my community to honor those lost in a similar one.
While I stood in silence, realizing that an event like the one that happened in Florida could easily happen at a place like Harvard-Westlake, I also realized that we as a society are arguing for gun restrictions for all of the wrong reasons.
I completely believe that gun control is absolutely necessary in our country. I firmly believe, and have believed for a very long time, that our country should follow in the footsteps of nations like Australia and Japan and completely ban all firearms.
And a major reason for that is that I hate guns, as they are awful machines that have been employed by far too many to wipe out millions of people. But to a lawmaker, that is a terrible argument as to why our country should ban firearms. That is an argument driven by my own emotion. It is driven by my feelings toward guns.
While everyone, no matter who they are, is entitled to their own feelings about firearms, we cannot let these feelings dictate our arguments, and that is exactly what is happening.
Our society is now demanding major policy change because we feel that guns are awful, and we feel unsafe with them in our culture. Those are completely valid feelings, but they cannot be the driving force behind our demand for change. And yes, these are arguments of emotion because they are only rising out of tragedy. Tragedy can be an effective catalyst for change, but I have lived through tragedy after tragedy, and the same process repeats itself: people are outraged, memorials are held, people forget, and we move on.
The First Amendment is an amazing thing, and protests are an incredible way to exercise the rights given to us. However, these protests cannot become driven by emotion. While it is good to be passionate about an issue, as soon as you let that passion control your arguments and your actions, the truth is clouded in a sea of emotion.
Protest because, on an average day, 96 Americans are killed with guns, according to everytownresearch.org. Protest because there are nearly 13,000 gun homicides each year. Protest because nearly two-thirds of all gun deaths in the United States are suicides. Protest because there were 427 mass shootings in the United States in 2017. But please, do not protest because you hate guns. Do not protest because you feel. Protest because you know.
The arguments that need to be made are not ones of hate, fear, frustration or even love. The arguments that we as a society need are not the ones that lawmakers will listen to and brush off as those coming from an enraged population, but the ones that lawmakers will see come from a well-informed and determined society that is ready for, and demanding of change.