Courtesy of ABC
About one year ago, on March 24th, people all across the United States took a stand against gun violence in response to the horrid and frequent mass shootings. March for Our Lives was led by the voices of the students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School after the school shooting there on February 14th, 2018. There determination to get legislators to take action has been continuous since the date of the shooting and persists to today. One year later, students re-emphasized their call to action on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C.
March for Our Lives put up a display behind the Capitol building on March 26th, 2019 titled “A Week in America.” It highlighted a message to Congress, “Your Complacency Kills Us,” referring to the little action that Congress takes in response to mass shootings. At its center, the display feature a statue of a student sitting at a desk wearing a hoodie reading “Am I Next?” and sporting a mirror for a face. One student of the group explained its meaning: “a day in the life of an American student — painfully vulnerable to both trauma and violence.” Adding a mirror to the statue allows the message to be universal; anyone is vulnerable to becoming a victim as long as no logical action is taken. When a person passes by the mirror, they see themselves and can therefore connect to it and what it stands for. The mirror’s purpose is to spark that personal connection and make the viewer realize what gun violence can truly mean. The statue sits at the center of a target.
On top of this “jarring” scene, 735 white memorials surround the statue to signify the disturbing number of people killed by gun violence in just about every week. Similarly to the statue, these memorials do not specify one person but rather give broader names like “brother,” “sister,” or “mother” to illustrate how anyone could be impacted by gun violence. Grace Kim (12) argues that “there should be a greater awareness regarding the danger of firearms, and that’s why [she] believe that this display is unique in the sense that it helps people understand a feeling that is foreign to most.”
Activists’ protests grew even more passionate after the shooting at two mosques in New Zealand on March 15th, 2019. The difference with the US was New Zealand’s government quickly took actions that many gun-control advocates have been demanding for years.
Though arguably the gun violence remains a prevalent issue in the United States, the progress and actions that have been taken to regulate gun violence cannot be ignored. Thanks to the continuous push for stronger gun control, many legislators have actually taken action in response.
After Democrats took the majority in the U.S. House of Representatives, they were quick to pass two bills in February to tighten background checks for people looking to acquire a gun. Furthermore, the Department of Justice banned bump stocks, which would enable a person to turn semi-automatic weapons into fully automatic weapons. Many states, including the District of Columbia, have passed about 67 gun- safety laws as well.
Most recently, a Republican-led gun control hearing was held to address gun violence in America. This was most surprising to hear, especially when Republican Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham addressed the necessity for “a way to deal with gun violence in [the] country.” According to ABC News, Senator Graham even called in some “experts on extreme risk protection laws, also known as ‘red flag’ laws, which can empower law enforcement to seize guns from people who are deemed a danger to themselves and other.”
Gun control remains a controversial issue among Americans, but whether its through banning certain guns from being accessible to the average citizen or through more thorough background checks, it’s impossible to ignore such a prevalent issue and refuse to take action. Sooner or later, Congress will need to act; everyday they wait adds to the number of men, women, and children killed as a result gun violence that could have been prevented.
Sources: Mashable, ABC News, The Hill