February 14th takes a tragic meaning

Illustration by Tonesha Yazzie

Valentine’s Day marks the second anniversary of the Parkland shooting. In 2018, a gunman opened fire with a semi-automatic rifle at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, killing 14 innocent students and three administrative staff.

A day meant to be filled with love now has a tragic meaning.

Valentine’s Day will forever be a day of misery for the families and friends whose loved ones were killed.

While people are celebrating Valentine’s Day and exchanging gifts, we need to remember the tragedy that took place two years ago. The teens who were killed in the Parkland school shooting all had promising futures. They will never go to college, start their own families or celebrate another Valentine’s Day.

Having a day of remembrance for the victims who were killed in the shooting is not enough. It has been almost 21 years since the Columbine High School shooting in Littleton, Colorado, that took 13 lives, and it has been eight years since the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting that killed 26 people, including 20 children.

The Parkland shooting shows that politicians have once again failed the children of this country. Columbine should have been a wake-up call for policymakers to enact stricter gun control laws to protect children from gun violence in schools. Parents are still sending their kids off to school with the blind hope that they are safe, not realizing the chance they may never see them again.

Time and time again, there is another mass shooting in this country. I am tired of not seeing a change. I do not want to hear another politician say they are praying for the families of the children whose lives were lost and not using their power to prevent it from happening again. I want to see a change in gun laws.

There needs to be stricter laws that prevent guns from getting into the wrong hands. More thorough background checks need to be done and guns should not be available to the hands of children. The current background check system that is in place in gun retail stores, which is referred to as the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, doesn’t do enough seeing as the number of mass shootings with this law in place is still absurdly high in this country.

It is idealistic to propose banning guns in a country that values the Second Amendment so heavily, but we can place regulations to reduce the amount of gun violence.

I have seen too many news stories in my lifetime about mass shootings in the United States, as well as globally. It seems as though every day there is a shooting. I am tired of turning on the TV and feeling my heart break.

I hope future generations do not have to worry about being shot and killed while getting an education. The only way to do this is to pressure our leaders to pass laws to protect citizens from gun violence.

To honor the lives of the 17 victims who were killed on Feb. 14, 2018 and all of the other victims of school shootings, people should demand to see a change by protesting, supporting bills that enforce gun control and voting for politicians who support gun control. No matter their political identity, people should agree that mass shootings need to be stopped. Every time there is a mass shooting, there are some people who say “never again,” but then it happens again in a span of mere weeks or months. This is because there is no change in laws regulating access to firearms in the U.S.

There is no way of knowing when or if there is going to be a mass shooting at another school. Despite the trauma and grief that has affected the whole country, each time there is a school shooting we see no change.

Every school shooting is a national tragedy and it seems as though the tragedy never ends. There is an epidemic going on in the U.S. Every day, people die from gun violence.

Valentine’s Day should now be a day for activism. We need stricter gun laws that will keep this from happening again. It is our duty as a country to protect our children, and we cannot do that with the current state of the gun laws in the U.S.

We need to encourage politicians to enact laws that will give stricter regulations on guns so that children and their families will never again be subjected to another tragedy.