by Alicia Carroll

Growing up in North Philadelphia, I heard a lot of horror stories from my family. My parents tried very hard to shelter me from the reality that surrounded my small city block.  We moved away from the city to a suburb in Maryland, where we finally lived in a safer environment. As I grew up, I missed the city, and would complain about suburban life to my mother, wanting to go back home. Now that I am older, my mother jokingly tells me that I would hear gunshots at night and she would tell me it was firecrackers. She jokes, but it’s true. I don’t know if she intended to tell me that or not, but I remember this happening on numerous occasions. My uncle would tell my father about the latest shooting that happened a few blocks down. It was all around me. And being as young as I was, I would watch the local news hearing about things that happened not even ten minutes from where I lived and I didn’t think twice about it.  And no, it wasn’t the worst environment. It wasn’t New Orleans, or Detroit, Baltimore, or Chicago. But Philly is in the top 10 cities for Gun related deaths and homicides in the country.

Emerson Peace and Social Justice and the Emerson class of 2015 hosted a candlelight vigil for victims of gun violence. After our dedicated silence, we had an open discussion about how gun violence has affected us personally. We wonder why is this violence so rampant? It’s ridiculous to hear that kids my age are shooting each other for botched drug deals or turf wars. Its ridiculous to think that tens of thousands of suicides are committed with guns each year. Its ridiculous to think people would shoot someone for something as miniscule as a parking spot after a snowstorm. It’s ridiculous to think that someone would murder an entire group of people he doesn’t even know. It’s especially ridiculous to see in the news that someone shot someone and himself on an off campus apartment at a college your best friends attend, and worry if it was them before names are released. People die every day of natural causes or accidents. But I shouldn’t fear for my own life or the lives of my loved ones as a result of gun violence or any other form of unwarranted attacks on another human being. It just shouldn’t happen. Violence should never be the answer in any situation.

I am not trying to be political or liberal or however this may be negatively perceived. I just want to stop seeing mothers weep and grieve the loss of their children due to unnecessary violence. People have the right to bare arms, yes. But that law was written at a time when our country was at war every ten seconds. I think it is reasonable to think there needs to be a change. You have the right to own a gun. But does it have to be a semi-automatic? Does it have to have enough power to kill dozens before you need more amo? No. You have the right to own a gun, legally. Why is it so unreasonable to ask that you get a background check before you are licensed to carry a concealed weapon? Why is it unreasonable to ask that you are educated in gun use to make sure you do not use a deadly weapon irresponsibly? You do not have the right to hide behind the 2nd amendment to wield firearms as a statement of force or power.  You have the right to defend yourself, but you do not have the right to attack people just because something didn’t go your way, or because you feel threatened. You do not have the right to take the life of another living, breathing human being that has not physically and immediately attempted to do the same to you. Defense is reactionary, not proactive. Defense is warrented, not unnecessary. Death should not be the consequence of living an innocent life. Whether you are talking about Movie goers, college students, high school students, or children. No one deserves to have his life taken by another citizen of this country.  People can defend the 2nd amendment all they want, but you cannot tell me that keeping the language of that amendment intact is worth all of the deaths it causes. Trust me, the people committing these crimes are not “baring arms” for the reasons our founders intended.  All I ask is for people to open up this conversation and support Emerson’s Aim to End Gun Violence. Speak for the silenced and let your legislators know what you believe is best not just for you, but also for the entire country. This is one issue we cannot afford to politicize. Something needs to be done now.

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