One of my favorite things about being a blogger is having a small, little area of the internet that’s mine. Whether that’s used to dress up in some of my favorite clothes, share my travels, or talk about Chicago’s unpredictable weather, it’s a small reflection of who I am and my creative outlet outside of work and everyday life. I had a blog post ready for this week about my favorite turtle neck and chino pants, but can’t bring myself to push the publish button on what seems like such a frivolous post because I’m completely heartbroken.
If you haven’t seen the news, 17 people – many of which are children – are dead due to a recent school shooting that happened at the high school I graduated from. The high school where I met many of my bridesmaids, had my first heartbreak, celebrated my college acceptance, and grew into an adult is now a statistic. The halls I roamed carelessly are now number eighteen – the eighteenth school to experience a shooting in 2018 … and it’s only February. With certainty, this is going to happen again, and someone else’s small town that they felt secure in and prepared them to fight in the “big scary world” will become that “big scary world”.
Anyone familiar with Parkland and Coral Springs will tell you it’s an area where people sleep with their doors unlocked, and in fact, Parkland was named the safest city in Florida for 2017 – proof that this can happen anywhere. Every time I come back to visit at least one person asks me if I’m scared of the gun violence in Chicago, and I always say that I’m more afraid of a homegrown terrorist walking into a mall, movie theatre, or populated area with a gun. And although this is our new normal, you never really think it’s going to happen to the town where the biggest thing we’re known for is breeding pop-punk band New Found Glory.
The first thing that came to my mind when I think about Douglas are my amazing memories. How excited I was when I became weather girl for the news, how much fun we had on our Senior trip to Islands of Adventure, and the countless football games that brought school pride. Our biggest worry was trying to steal our parent’s alcohol without getting caught, or convincing our parent’s we NEEDED another pair of torn-up Abercrombie & Fitch jeans as if it was life or death. Those are the things that these teenagers should be waking up and worrying about – not real life or death situations. Not if their friends in surgery are going to make it out alive. Not when they’re going to attend the funerals of their fellow classmates. And certainly not when this is going to happen again.
It’s never the right time to have a discussion on what can be done because we should never have to see children running for their lives with their hands up in the air. High school is the sweet time we’re supposed to take for granted, and the time we look back on as adults and remember how we didn’t know what real problems were. Thoughts and prayers are nice, but they’re not enough. And they will never be enough. Nobody should be okay with this being the America we raise our children in, wondering when their town is going to be become the next Parkland.
Responsible gun owners who don’t support gun reform are not responsible gun owners. Below I’ve listed five easy ways you can give back and have your voice heard. And I encourage you to share any organizations or ideas you’ve come across that can help change the violent narrative in this country.
Donate to the Stoneman Douglas fundrasier on Go Fund Me. It’s the only right now that is being labeled as legitimate.
Support Everytown for Gun Safety and find an event or join the Gun Sense Action Network.
VOTE OUT COMPLICIT POLITICIANS. Research those in bed with the NRA and put pressure on them by calling them, tweeting them, and make sure you show up to vote them out. Here is a top 10 list of career recipients of NRA funding, for starters. Call your member of congress. You can find out who they are here.
Make a pledge to support only candidates who will fight to to reduce gun violence, and make sure you share your pledge with others.
Educate yourself and others. Information is power, so start researching statistics surrounding the gun violence in America. The gun violence archive is a great start.