The day of the Virginia Tech massacre was probably the worst day of my life. As a Hokie, it’s deeply personal to me; not only do I mourn the senseless and brutal murder of thirty-two of my fellow Hokies – one of whom I called my friend – but I also mourn the loss of innocence…for Virginia Tech was the place I felt safest in the world.
In the days following the massacre, the poet Nikki Giovanni said, “We will prevail. We are Virginia Tech.” While Ms. Giovanni is right – time has passed, the ache has softened and the wounds have healed – prevailing should no longer be about finding the strength to overcome these senseless tragedies. Instead, prevailing should and needs to be about finding a way to prevent these horrific tragedies from ever happening again.
This year, more than ever, I find myself asking what is taking so long. Because, we are no longer just Virginia Tech, we are also NIU and Tucson and Aurora and Newtown and Columbine – all bound together as the victims of violent, unexpected attacks of unfathomable savagery. Each time, we vow to make change and each time, nothing has been done. And as a result, all of us have suffered from the senseless loss of loved ones in places we should feel safe: schools, movie theaters and constituent events.
I can’t say I have ever really personally thought or cared much about the Second Amendment in the United States. I have shot a gun exactly once, ironically at a shooting range outside of Blacksburg. The one feeling I recall from shooting that gun is how scary it felt to hold that kind of power in my hands; that with the pull of the trigger, I could take someone’s life. At that moment, I vowed to never again hold another gun in my hand.
That of course, is my personal preference. I understand people enjoy hunting and that people feel the need to protect themselves and I am ok with those things. But I do not understand or believe that any and everyone should have access to high-capacity ammunition magazines; these guns are not for hunting animals, they are for hunting people. The current debate and Congressional standstill seems so senseless to me, just as senseless as these acts of savagery that continue to happen.
With that said, gun control is not the only conversation that needs to be had, we also need to address the way we deal with mental illness and security, among other things. However, making it more difficult for people to buy guns that kill people is a seemingly rational and simple first step to reduce the number of people senselessly killed by guns.