I first heard the news of the Newtown, Conn. shooting while checking Twitter during a study break from cramming for a sociology final.
The messages that popped up before my eyes about the fallen children and faculty at Sandy Hook Elementary School made me shudder and I had to shut my laptop and take a few moments to fully comprehend what I had read.
It seemed like I was reliving a not-so-distant memory from just a few months before, when I had awoken to a flurry of tweets recounting the shooting in Aurora, Colo.
I spent an hour lying in bed that July morning clicking through links to the stories of witnesses and video clips depicting crying patrons fleeing the theater. I felt too sick to my stomach to move.
Art teacher Eric Mueller sets up 27 wooden angel cut-outs in memory of the victims of the elementary school shooting in Newtown, Conn.
As I checked the news and read through my social networks throughout the day, political pundits and celebrities continued to sound off on the tragedy, urging support for gun control and increased mental health care.
Their perspectives were soon countered by advocates of the Second Amendment or critics bothered by the “politicization” of the tragedy, and firestorms soon erupted.
In a press conference following the shooting on Friday, President Barack Obama delivered a heartfelt address to express his condolences to the families of the victims, pausing to wipe tears from his eyes.
“The majority of those who died today were children — beautiful little kids between the ages of 5 and 10 years old. They had their entire lives ahead of them — birthdays, graduations, weddings, kids of their own,” Obama said.
While his speech was powerful, it did little to assuage the fear held by Americans across the nation hoping that action would soon be taken to prevent future tragedies.
Though we live in a country founded on freedom, that liberty entails the right to go to school, work or the local movie theater in peace.
According to the Washington Post, the U.S. has the highest rate of gun ownership in the world with an average of 88 people per every 100 owning a firearm.
As gun-related violence continues to mount across the country, it is vital that the federal government develops a policy that limits gun ownership and establishes usage restrictions that will prevent future deaths and catastrophe.
According to an article by Patrick Radden Keefe for The New Yorker, the National Rifle Association (NRA) is four million strong — a number that appears seemingly miniscule in comparison to the voices advocating for control.
However, he explains that “the pro-gun constituency is ardent and organized, while the gun control crowd is diffuse and easily distracted.”
He continues, asserting the absurdity that he is barred from buying “a dozen packages of Sudafed” from any local drugstore, while he can seamlessly purchase the same number of firearms at a gun dealership.
In order to successfully establish a more peaceful nation, strength in the mobilization of anti-gun supporters is essential.
The nation must gather in support of preventing gun-related violence not just for the fallen at Sandy Hook, but also to the victims of the 1999 Columbine shooting, for those killed during the Aurora theater shooting and for Congresswomen Gabrielle Giffords, among countless other innocent victims.
As I tried to return to my studies, shaken and confused about the state of humanity, one line of my reading from the French sociologist Emile Durkheim stuck out above the rest.
“Irrespective of any external regulatory force, our capacity for feeling is in itself an insatiable and bottomless abyss,” Durkheim asserts.
It’s now up to the millions of people that demonstrated their sentiments to stop the violence to do more than craft a status update and band together to lobby the government to implement change.
The movement to enact gun control legislation must start now.
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