America Isn’t Great

CATE WATERS (GRADE 12)

It didn’t take long for my phone to start buzzing with news updates. Another school shooting, I thought to myself. Reflecting back now, it’s horrible to think how little I thought about it in the moment. People die from guns all the time in America. It’s almost normal.

It wasn’t until I sat down at the dinner table that night that I started to really think about the shooting. My host parents asked me if I had heard about the shooting in Florida, and I said yes. They asked me what the US was going to do about it. I just kind of stared blankly and thought about all the shootings that have happened in the past. I said “probably nothing.” People will talk and pray and support the community that faced this extreme tragedy, but I  thought nothing really would change. No legislation would be passed. No guns would be taken away. Nothing would change.

The next day at school I started talking to some of the Italian students about the shooting. Many hadn’t heard of the shooting and we’re in shock when we told them that a school had been the target. I was surprised to hear many responses along the line of: “we don’t worry about that kind of stuff here.” I had never really thought about the normality of school shootings. I hadn’t realized that other countries don’t worry about school shootings, or gun violence in general.

When I got back to the apartment that night I started to look for information to explain why American students are so afraid of school shootings, but Italian students aren’t. If we look at what Donald Trump is saying, he would say that the US has many mass shooting because of mental health issues. Every country has mental health issues and a country like the US has the healthcare system capable to treating mental illness.

There has to be a more prominent reason for this epidemic of mass shootings in America. It’s the amount of guns US residents have. In 2016, CBC news reported that there are 88.8 guns in the US per every 100 residents. Italy has 11.6 guns per every 100 residents. This was the solid explanation I had been looking for. The more guns we have in circulation, the more likely it is that someone unfit to have a gun will get one.

Many people in America, including Donald Trump, think that America is the greatest country in the world. How can America be the greatest country in the world if our students are afraid to go to school because they are afraid that they will be killed? Other students around the world don’t worry about these types of things.

This time needs to be different. We cannot let this shooting fade away like the others have in the past. The posts on social media are good, but we need action. We need walkouts, protests, and legislation. We need to make changes that will prevent anything like this from happening again. If Donald Trump really wants to make America great again he’s going to need to focus on passing legislation that will limit gun ownership and make it much harder to get guns.

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