I am so tired. Students are tired. Faculty are tired. Parents are tired.
On August 28, the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill went into lockdown because of an active shooter on campus. Tailei Qi, who was a graduate student at the University, shot and killed Professor Zijie Yan of the Applied Physical Sciences department.
On Sept. 13, less than a month later, UNC was back in lockdown after an armed individual flashed a weapon at a local Bagel Shop—two lockdowns in less than a month.
We have come so full circle in the firearms crisis that professors on the UNC campus were students at the school in 1995 when a gunman killed two students and wounded two others on campus.
Ryan Thornburg was a writer for the school newspaper in 1995, covering the shooting, and 28 years later, he was experiencing the same horror, this time having to hide his students in his classroom as a journalism professor at the school.
The United States has been in a gun violence crisis for long enough that there are people who have experienced multiple mass shootings in their lives. But yet, Congress still remains silent about gun laws because it’s in the Constitution.
We have politicians like Marjorie Taylor Green who believe that “the only way to protect children from guns is to protect them “with guns,” and take no issue with tweeting after a shooting that “We don’t need more gun control, we need to return to God.”
We have politicians like Ted Cruz who sent their thoughts and prayers after a shooting but rushed to attend National Rifle Conventions to praise weapons only three days after the Uvalde shooting that killed 19 elementary school students and two teachers in his own state.
It truly baffles me to try and understand the thought process of politicians. They’re trying to ban drag shows and classic literature for being “unsafe” for kids, but meanwhile, the thing that kills around 20,000 people yearly (excluding suicides) is a constitutional right to keep.
School deserves to be the place where students, from elementary schoolers to college students, feel safe and supported. I don’t care that on my tour of colleges three summers ago, the tour guides briefly mentioned that they never personally felt unsafe on campus and that they have a blue light system or campus police.
Deep down, there is always a part of me that will never feel completely safe at school, or any public place for that matter, because you never know when a shooting can occur and, in the moment, how to react. It’s one of the situations where your body goes into fight or flight mode and you think you know what to do when adults teach you the procedure, but when it happens, what do you do? Where do you go? Who do you call?
Mara McJilton published an article for Wect in response to the UNC shooting titled, “I’ve always felt safe, but am I safe?” This emphasizes my point that we never know when the worst can happen. That’s why we can’t just send our thoughts and prayers and say, “Next time, we’ll be more careful.”
The issue lies with our government and the disregard for the well-being of people. In 2022, People published a list of all of the Republican senators who receive mass amounts of funding from the National Rifle Association.
To name just a few, Mitt Romney of Utah receives over $13,000,000, Richard Burr of North Carolina receives almost $7,000,000 and Thom Tillis of North Carolina receives around $5,000,000. This list proves that the reason, or part of the reason, that gun control laws are not being pushed forward is because these Republicans are too afraid to lose their funding. And unfortunately, our House of Representatives has a Republican majority.
We need to open our eyes to current politicians who choose money over our livelihood—the people we elected into office to protect us. This is just further proof that voting is necessary today. Political parties are too far broken to say that your vote doesn’t matter next to the millions of others. Our political system is lying on the majority right now, so every vote of the millions counts.