Two girls I knew were victims of the mass shooting last Wednesday at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. While I hear about tragedies like this on the news all the time, I never thought it could ever happen in my community. But, I was wrong.
For those put into situations similar to the one my community has been put into, federal and state governments’ reluctance to take any action in preventing gun violence is absurd. As a result, following the tragedy, my friends and family in Broward County, Fla., including survivors attending Stoneman Douglas High, have become voices of change in our most vulnerable time despite political differences. We have joined together because we do not want anyone to have the capacity to inflict such pain on our friends, family, and community ever again. So naturally, it surprises me that those who remain generally untouched by the damage of these tragedies accuse us of unfairly politicizing them.
On the evening of the shooting, popular conservative political commentator Tomi Lahren tweeted “Can the Left let the families grieve for even 24 hours before they push their anti-gun and anti-gunowner agenda? My goodness. This isn’t about a gun it’s about another lunatic. #FloridaShooting.” Lahren fails to realize that those she refers to as “the Left” are the families. The friends. The community.
Referring to everyone in my community who is mourning and taking a stand as “the Left” is ignorant and simply false. We are not fighting for personal political beliefs — we are fighting for the safety of our loved ones. If fighting to keep our loved ones safe after our community has been wrecked is politicizing a tragedy, we take no shame in politicizing. Even though the friends and families of victims appreciate thoughts and prayers from public figures, these prayers won’t bring back those who we lost, nor will they prevent future tragedies. That is why gun safety activism and legislative change are so important to many members of my community. So, as we welcome thoughts and prayers, we strongly welcome activism from the general public and “the Left” that Lahren condemns.
Ensuring the safety of innocent people shouldn’t be a politically divisive issue. While I acknowledge that Americans have the right to bear arms, high schoolers also have a right to go to school without fear of another mass shooting. It isn’t a gun rights issue as much as it is a human safety issue. If those in positions of power treated human life with as much dignity as they do machines, this wouldn’t even be a political issue. I ask that our congresspeople and state legislators understand why people are “politicizing” a tragedy: not to push personal political agendas, but to bring justice for our loved ones and prevent future incidents like this from leaving families, schools, and communities in shambles.
Megan Vaz is a Junior from Weston, Fla. Contact the author at firstname.lastname@example.org.