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  • Writer's pictureLaura Skinner

This is not okay.

I don’t have any children, but half of my family works in the American education system. Every day they go to schools just like Robb Elementary.

Just this week, a family member texted us about an active shooter in their area. This is not okay.

At every level of my own education, there were times we had to go into lockdown because of active gun threats. This is not new.

I chose to go to Virginia Tech, where every year we hold a huge remembrance of life for the 32 people murdered in 2007. Every year the entire community relives that tragedy. This is not okay.

Every night, our local news station begins with the number of shootings in Baltimore for the day. Every single day. This is not new.

Yesterday I found out my thyroid nodule was cancerous. They tested it after my surgery, and thankfully this is why we went through everything to remove it. There are still a lot of follow-up things to take care of, but thankfully I am fine because we took action after realizing there was a risk.

Yesterday I told my parents it was cancer. They’ve known it has been a possibility since last fall. They knew it was the reason I was having surgery.

But “cancer” is a loaded word. Even though my parents know it was removed, their brains still kicked into “how do we fix this?” mode the second I told them. They were willing to do anything because they thought my well-being was in danger. That there was a risk that I was not going to be okay.

America, the well-being of our children is in danger. The well-being of our parents and siblings and friends and neighbors is in danger. There is a risk that they are not going to be okay because we live in a society that values the “freedom” to own a gun over the value of human life. With every mass shooting, we keep seeing how true this is.

This rarely happens in other countries because when it has, they take action. Like Scotland after the Dunblane massacre in 1996. And Australia after the Port Arthur massacre, also in 1996. This is an American problem.

“Gun” is a loaded word (in all the ways) in America, but we are still stuck in a terrible cycle where gun violence is the norm. We have to kick our brains into “how do we fix this?” mode because otherwise, nothing will change. The “freedom” to own a gun is not worth the price of one single person’s life.

Donate. Vote. Talk to your family and friends.

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