There’s nothing particularly special about me that would predispose me to gun violence. However, in just three years I’ve been impacted by four acts of preventable gun violence.
Three years ago, as a Florida State University student, I stayed up all night reaching out to friends and classmates to confirm that they were not in the university’s library where an armed gunman entered and shot three students. After that incident, the place where I felt at home started to feel less safe.
Two years ago, on a Sunday morning, I watched in horror as the death toll at Pulse nightclub in Orlando kept climbing, hoping that no loved ones were there during the massacre.
Members of my LGBTQ Latin community who gathered for a fun night out were attacked in a violent way. This moved me in an incredibly deep and personal way.
Then last October, as news broke of the massacre at the Las Vegas music festival, I frantically texted a friend present at the event.
I was relieved to hear that she was safe, but she will now live for the rest of her life with the mental scars left by a domestic terrorist.
And last week, gun violence struck close to home again, as I learned of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting. The shooting was just blocks away from my parent’s home. A school administrator from my high school lost his life.
The most frustrating part about all of this is that the solutions are out there. We just need elected officials to propose and vote on common-sense gun reform.
We need to reject terrible ideas by politicians in the pockets of the gun lobby, and instead champion sensible legislation like SB 196. This bill would ban the sale of assault weapons like the ones used in Pulse, Las Vegas, and Stoneman Douglas High School.
We must also be vigilant in allowing rhetoric that demonizes mental illnesses and direct our action to the root cause of these tragedies: weak gun laws.