U-M student contributor
Two and a half months ago, four students were killed at Oxford High School. Their lives abruptly ended within minutes. The rest of their time on this planet simply stopped. All because of a gun in the hands of someone unfit to yield it.
Ever since I began school at the age of five, I have known active shooter drills to be a part of growing up, just as learning to play the recorder in fourth grade and doing the mile run in fifth. Crouching silently in the corner and preparing to throw the very textbooks I should be using to learn as, instead, weapons of self-preservation. It was simply part of going to school, an element to which I never questioned, that is until February 14th, 2018, the day of the Marjory Stoneman Douglass shooting.
That day, four years ago, I realized just how devastating the gun violence epidemic in this country is. As I watched X Gonzalez stand in silence during March For Our Lives, each minute pounding away until it hit the precise time it took the shooter to end his killing spree, I agonized over the intense pain in my chest. I could never know what it felt like to be X at that moment. I could never know what it felt like to be any Parkland survivor. Yet, I knew exactly what it was like to feel unsafe in the place you should be growing as a student – a place where your only worry should be your grade on that last test, not making it home alive.
According to Everytown Research, every single day, more than 110 Americans are killed by a firearm. For children and teens, firearms are the leading cause of death. This isn’t normal. This shouldn’t be the reality we live in, yet it is.
I began organizing with March For Our Lives, a youth-led gun violence prevention movement, almost two years ago.
Currently, I work at the national level as a Movement Organizer. Through countless conversations with survivors of gun violence, community leaders, and elected officials, I have gained an understanding of what fuels this epidemic and what can be done to prevent it. The issue of gun violence cannot be traced back to a single perpetrator.
Instead, it is a complex, intersectional problem that needs to be answered with a complex, intersectional solution. The people whose job it is to combat this are the same people who sit silently ignoring the problem: politicians. Each day as they enter their office, they are signing our death warrants. I, along with hundreds of young people throughout Michigan, am done. We will no longer let the people we voted into office go another term without taking clear, concise action against gun violence. We will not allow their silence to kill. So, on February 23rd, 2022, we lobby. Youth from across the state are invited to attend Lobby For Our Lives, a press conference and lobbying event held at the Michigan State Capitol in Lansing. We will be meeting with legislators to advocate for safe storage and increased mental health resources in schools. This is an opportunity for young folks, a group so often ignored, to voice their opinions and influence change in the legislature.
Members of Gen Z who are interested in joining this effort can sign-up at https://bit.ly/lobbyforourlives. Here, you can select a date for training on how to effectively lobby, mark if you need a note for school, help with transportation, and any dietary restrictions as breakfast and lunch will be provided. This event is designed to be as inclusive as possible to build diversity in the people who attend. March For Our Lives wants to uplift the voices that often aren’t often heard. I hope that you will join us. Gun violence is plaguing Michigan, whether in schools like Oxford, in the streets of Detroit, or in Ann Arbor during the shooter threat towards women this past fall. We have rallied, we have protested, we have shouted at the top of our lungs. Our politicians must hear us. The time is now.
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