The recent events in Parkland, Florida can be described as many words: devastating, heartbreaking, cruel, evil, horrific. The list could go on and on. In early February we were reminded yet again just how quick detrimental events can happen, and that our time on Earth isn’t always guaranteed. 

This is the kind of event that makes your heart hurt. It’s the kind of thing that made CNN counterterrorism analyst Philip Mudd break down in tears on air. It makes you scared, frightful, weary of the society we live in.

However, this is, unfortunately, a vicious cycle. It happens again and again while we send our “thoughts and prayers” over Twitter. A week goes by, the shooting is somewhat forgotten in our nation, and we resume to our daily lives until a mass shooting happens again.

The scary part is, you can purchase any other type of gun in Texas, as long as you are “18 and can pass a background check”, Fox News states.

However, to purchase a handgun, you must be twenty one, and you must carry a permit with that handgun.

It’s baffling to think that while there is a higher age restriction for handguns, and not for any other type of gun. You are also only required to have a permit for a handgun. It seems as if there are little restrictions on assault weapons like the AR-15, and more regulatory measures for a handgun. In my eyes, this is all backwards.

We should put these restrictions in place for automatic weapons meant for war. Absolutely no one should be using an AR-15 to hunt, keep around the house, or kill, unless you are in a warzone.

In late February students organized a peaceful protest at the flagpole on campus, calling for “No More Gun Violence”. Students from all different sides came together to honor those killed at Stoneman Douglas, and to celebrate the start of progress for change and young voices beginning to emerge in a time of crisis. I was a part of this, and seeing how many students showed up for this brought tears to  my eyes. We are oftentimes called the generation of social media addicts, laziness, or unmotivation, and while some of those things can prove to be true, I also believe we are a generation that understands the meaning of change. We understand that we will be the next social and political leaders, and based on what I witnessed at the protest, we are more than ready to rise up to the challenge.

With the weapon argument, I also believe that we do have a mental health problem in our country. There are many who are struggling in silence, and feel as if they have no one to lean on. But how can we fight for more mental health awareness with our current healthcare system? How can we make facilities like doctor’s offices more affordable for those who are still struggling, but in need?

The mental health issue arises every time there is a mass shooting, and I still fail to see those politicians alleviate any of their own funds to support mental health awareness as a whole, specifically those people who are unable to make it to the doctor’s office. For now, I can only say that how I will make a difference is to make others feel included, and to be kind. Through all of this, I have realized that you never know who is suffering in silence.   

Political division has the power to rip society apart. We’ve seen our country become so divided, one side demanding that their way is the only way. I want to stress that it’s not about being a Republican, or being a Democrat. Now, it’s about common sense.

We just shouldn’t have automatic weapons in young adult’s hands anymore, especially if they have a record of mental illness. We need to start focusing less on what side everyone is on, and more on how we can come together.

For anyone reading this, I urge you to start making a change. For your daughters, or sons, family members, friends, loved ones. No one should have to grow up or be a part of this ongoing fear. 

I looked around at my student body today during the protest and I remain hopeful. I remain hopeful because there is always a time and place for change. And that change is now.

CALLING REPS INFOPGRAPHICWritten By Grayson Ruiz, Opinion and Lifestyle Editor