heavy hearts

By now, most people are aware of the shootings that occurred last week at Northern Arizona University and at Texas Southern University. In the wake of the massacre in Oregon (not to mention the countless other school shootings that happen in our country on a regular basis), these events were not statistically surprising, but they were no less heartbreaking.

And although these stories dominated the news and social media, not everyone is aware that the shooting at NAU directly affected my family.

I thank God that my cousin is safe.

I thank God that the shooter was identified and will be rightly punished for his crimes.

I thank God that my family and my friends were able to come together and punch tragedy in the face with their love and support, because I don’t know what I would do without them.

I pray that God will heal the wounds–physical and emotional–with His amazing love. I pray that we will keep those who did not survive in our hearts, and that we do not forget the pain that their loved ones will always endure. I pray that our attitudes about violence will change; that we will offer support and empathy when it is needed and our government will do whatever it takes to make this stop.

I don’t want to write about all the details; quite frankly, a quick Google search will tell you all the information you would probably need or want to know. Reporters have invaded my family’s privacy and pictures of the injured are all over the Internet. It’s sickening, and my heart is angry and hurt and sad all at once. I don’t think I ever want to see a gun again.

It is exhausting.

It is exhausting to turn on the news and see a headline that calmly informs us that there has been another shooting. It is exhausting to worry about my own safety and the safety of my family and friends. How many more people will have to die before we finally wake up?

With every shooting, political opinions reach the surface of my Facebook and Twitter feeds. In my perfect world, there are no guns and no wars and no needless shootings at all, but I know that is not the world I live in. I know we cannot screen for every mental illness and ban every single weapon.

But I’m tired of doing nothing at all.

I know many people who purchase guns for self-defense or hunting; while I do not want a gun for either reason, I understand that they have that right. Those situations are clearly very different than the school shootings I am referencing, and I am not trying to condemn every single person who owns a gun. I may have somewhat of a pacifist mentality, but I know that ultimately, it is a human being that has to pull the trigger.

To those who buy guns with the clear intention of hurting others: you have declared a war in which we are all casualties and soldiers. You’ve stolen lives, ripped families apart, and made this place we call home a truly frightening place to live.

You wanted a war?

Congratulations.

I’m fighting back.

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