Anger compelled, my fingers flew across the keyboard late Tuesday night.
I should have been sleeping, but my thoughts circulated back to what the haunted halls of Parkland High School and Great Mills High School must be like now in the aftermath of the tragic shootings that have taken place. How much more somber the classroom settings must be and how much the memory must be replayed for the students who survived the violence.
I am convinced that it’s not a matter of if. It’s a matter of when Mississippi is faced with the same grim circumstances as Florida and, now, Maryland.
Statistics are not in our favor. In January, the Clarion Ledger reported that Mississippi ranked fourth in 2016 for gun deaths based off information released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Injury Prevention.
As someone who was born and raised in Mississippi, I am well-versed in the culture surrounding guns in the South, but I would ask that we, as the students and adults who will go on to carve what the future looks like for our children’s children, consider the priorities, the numbers.
Gun safety can be an issue of sensibility if we allow it to be, not a discussion lacking compromise like it has been in the past. I take issue with the probability of another high school shooting taking place and the misplaced information that floats in and out of what feels like every TV screen and Twitter feed.
Clearly there are impassioned people on both sides of the fence when it comes to gun control, but shouldn’t there be a way to create sensible gun safety legislation?
The answer is yes, but it takes allotting the time to educate ourselves first and then the self-discipline to vote on whatever conclusion you come to.
I am not insinuating that all weapons should be banned. I think a good place to start is to properly inform ourselves.
For example, rifles for duck season are one thing. Military firearms being sold to civilians is another.
When I took the time to research and refrain from listening to biased opinions and well-managed politicians, it shocked me at how accessible automatic weapons are in the United States and how we compare to countries with the lowest rates of gun violence, like Norway, Japan and Australia.
We are meant to progress as a nation, not regress to the past.
So let us strike while the iron is hot and open our minds to imagining what schools look like without monthly active shooter exercises and armed guards or teachers.
For me, exploring sites like “Everytown for Gun Safety” and reading about the March for Our Lives movement taking place this Saturday, March 24, with one organized in Oxford, meant facing the reality that if I must act if I want to see change.
We could be the generation that tips the scale toward creating safer environments for our own children in the future, but not before enlightening ourselves first.
Elizabeth Googe is a graduate student in the Department of Higher Education New Albany.