My fingers reached for the keys as I tried my best to type every word that came out of my professor’s mouth. My knowledge of this very lecture was going to make or break my grade on the next major test — nothing could break my focus.
CNN: Breaking News: School shooting in Parkland, Fla. 13 dead.
My stomach churned. I clicked on the notification. It took me to a short news article that broke down the basics of the situation: There was a shooting in a South Florida school. The shooter was still at large, his motive unclear. There were 13 casualties, possibly more. Victims unnamed. More to come. No longer was the lecture consuming my thoughts. I spent the rest of class scrolling through Google, trying to dig up as many pieces of information as I could.
Why, in a world where shootings are historically commonplace, was I so taken aback?
Maybe it’s because I’m a Florida native. Some of my closest family friends live 20 minutes from Parkland. Maybe it’s because I’m a journalist at heart — investigative and inquisitive at every turn. But, mostly, it’s because I’ve been in their shoes.
Mass shootings are something I’m sadly familiar with. On June 12, 2016, an evil man opened fire on the Pulse Nightclub a mere two minutes away from my door. I can’t put into words how surreal and upsetting that day and the weeks following were, but, as I’m sure many of you can relate, waking up to the news that there are 49 innocent people lying dead less than two miles away from your home is not easy. It takes a while to surmount that kind of grief.
In the wake of this most recent shooting, the national climate surrounding the aftermath is drastically different. After Pulse, gun control was definitely a topic of discussion — but it wasn’t the forefront of the matter. Maybe I wasn’t paying attention due to being in shock, but I feel like this time around there’s change on the horizon. And I have to say, I’m relieved.
On the topic of gun control, I used to think the simple, two-dimensional mindset: “Guns don’t hurt people, people hurt people.” But this argument in itself cannot withstand the ideal that mass murderers like Cruz would not have been able to hurt people — 17 innocent high schoolers, to be exact — without being able to get his hands on the assault weapon he used. Without certain, readily available access to those guns, he would have never been able to pull off the operation that he did.
It’s so common for Christians to avoid addressing the topic of gun control head-on. To me, this is unethical. This goes against the very grain of Christianity. I know gun control is a controversial topic, but as Christians — the bold and selfless leaders for Christ’s kingdom on earth — we are called to rally for change that reflects God’s heart and His principles.
I keep seeing tweets like, “We don’t need your thoughts & prayers, we need policy & change.” But the very notion that we can go on without God is blasphemy. This lack of reverence for His dominion is upsetting, but not shocking. The truth is, we need so much prayer. This entire subject needs to be covered and coated in prayer, from top to bottom.
It’s so hard to come to grips with tragedy of this magnitude. There are families all around the nation aching to have their children, parents, cousins, aunts and uncles back in their arms — and something needs to be done about it. As Christians, we are called to be the catalysts for change.
Here’s what I ask in this time of contemplation, grief, and change: show compassion. Raise your candle proudly to the sky, lighting the candle of those around you. We can serve, we can pray, and we should be defined by our work to promote a safer community for our neighbors.
Eva Parker, Columnist