Georgia — Each of us standing here could be at home doing our usual business or spending this time with friends or loved ones. Unfortunately, here we are, doing these rallies again to advocate for policies not being implemented by our current legislatures, mainly those that deny most proposed gun violence prevention measures.
Gun violence in America continues to be a major issue that politicians want answers to. Americans experience more significant shootings than any other nation in the Western world, and the effects of this have left their mark.
In spite of these mass shootings, our government does not act. The effects of gun violence continue to deepen the wounds in American communities while progress on gun safety legislation stagnates in many states.
After these never-ending shootings, we continue to see words written on paper promising something to help prevent these from occurring, and you probably have scrolled to see “thoughts and prayers” posts. It is not enough for these similar results of people taking to their keyboards to upload “thoughts and prayers are with the victims” to end gun violence. Posts such as these only work to underplay the seriousness of gun violence in America.
In 2021, 81% of all murders in America involved a gun. According to recently collected data from CDC, these ongoing mass shootings seem to have no end as young Americans and children’s leading cause of death are firearms.
Something needs to be done about gun violence. Yet, in the Federal Government, it seems any legislation on the matter has been disturbed by extreme Republican opposition. While Democrats struggle to reason with their Republican colleagues, more will die. Most gun legislation never sees the light of day, and people get fed up.
However, there might finally be some action on the horizon. Last June, President Joe Biden signed the first significant change to American gun laws in the past 30 years in response to the Uvlade and Buffalo shootings. The law expands on previous legislation restricting the ability of minors and domestic abusers to own weapons. While this legislation is opposed by major organizations such as the National Rifle Association, the efforts of groups across the nation mobilizing against gun violence have gotten Biden’s attention and given results to America. Though more can and should be done.
This is where youth-led organizations, such as Voters of Tomorrow and Chance The Ref, come into play. From registering potential voters and mobilizing young people to vote for candidates that will take action in dealing with gun violence to lobbying for legislation like HB 161 with Georgia State Representatives Michelle Au and Mary Margaret Oliver, we actively take the frustration out of waiting for something to change and therefore, take the initiative to make that difference.
For instance, my state chapter, Georgia's Voters of Tomorrow, has and will continue to lobby for more gun safety legislation, but more should be done. This includes further advocacy from our generation and more research into the effects of gun violence on communities across America.
We should all be concerned because innocent young lives like Joaquin Oliver's were stolen. More lives will be lost if we stop fighting for gun violence prevention and spread awareness of the seriousness of these ongoing mass shootings.
Imagine that it could have been you or someone you love and be gone because we could have done more to stop it. These are people, we are people, and that is why we should be concerned because how many more lives that could have been future doctors, lawyers, and teachers need to be taken in order for bills to be passed that hold gun abusers accountable and for extreme lawmakers to be onboard in doing so.
Therefore, I call upon you to not just attend these rallies in honor of the victims of mass shootings with new saved memories but join the fight by contacting your representatives, meeting with them, getting registered to vote, getting others registered to vote, and most of all, keep showing up. With all our combined efforts, I am confident we will see and become that change.
Ashleigh Ewald (she/her/hers) is a Georgia-based journalist who attends Oglethorpe University. Follow her on IG: @ashleighewaldofficial.
Edited by NaTyshca Pickett