Why More States Need To Adopt Greater Gun Violence Awareness

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In the midst of police brutality, mass school shootings, random acts of violence and accidental misfires, New York State marks its third year dedicating the month of June to Gun Violence Awareness.

With the attempt to raise awareness for senseless and needless gun violence in New York communities, the state has created goals to promote greater awareness about gun violence and safety, in general.

While New York is the only state so far to use the month of June to raise awareness on this topic, there is no shortage of Americans who are willing to fight to see the violence end.

According to Futures Without Violence, “31,328 people died from gun violence in 2010, or roughly one every 17 minutes.”

You may have come across a bumper sticker while driving along the highway that reads, “Guns don’t kill people. People kill people.”

Maybe that is true. But, what do you think would happen if we eliminate the middle man; if we eliminate the gun altogether?

Some believe if guns were eradicated from our society, crime would come down to an all-time low. Others believe if we were to all bear arms, mass shootings like those at Sandy Hook or Columbine could have been prevented.

Unfortunately, it seems no matter how difficult states make it to be in possession of a gun, undeserving individuals are still easily able to acquire one.

The past October, 15-year-old Jaylen Fryberg shot five of his friends at Marysville Pilchuck High School in Washington, killing four and critically wounding the fifth before turning the gun on himself.

His father, Raymond Lee Fryberg, Jr., has now been arrested for illegally purchasing the gun his son used in the shooting by forging documents.

As Millennials, I hope we are starting to catch on to this incredibly severe situation of gun violence.

If it is so simple to lie on a piece of paper, allowing you to purchase a gun, why is there paperwork and background checks to buy one in first place?

If we aren’t locking up our firearms properly so they don't turn up in the possession of someone who will use them with malice, why lock them up at all?

Gun violence awareness is something I keep near and dear to my heart, and for good reason.

At the age of 14, I went to school as if it were any other day.

Living in a small town in the middle of central Maine, I was greeted by my tiny eighth grade class – 60 students in all, tops.

Everyone knew everyone, and for the most part, we were all close friends who grew up together.

Getting to school that day seemed normal, until a friend noticed one of our classmates wasn’t there.

He never missed a day of school, so it felt off right away.

By the middle of first period, rumors started to fly that students who had passed his house on the bus that morning saw yellow police tape surrounding the perimeter.

Teachers started whispering and passing notes, and phones started to ring with tears being held back.

By second period, the entire eighth grade crammed into a classroom where our teachers broke the news.

Our beloved classmate and friend, Anthony, was shot and killed by his mother’s boyfriend early that morning.

It’s hard to comprehend death at any age, let alone as a child. Every single person in the classroom that day was changed forever. Life didn’t seem so black and white anymore.

We were stripped of our innocence, stripped of that feeling of safety we never knew we had until that moment.

Gun violence happens so often, it sometimes doesn’t even make the news.

It’s as if another shooting is as common as the rainstorm predicted for the weekend.

Thankfully, citizens of New York State are taking a stand. Gun Violence Awareness Month states “the focus of this effort is to lead a bipartisan charge to concentrate annual heightened attention to gun violence and gun safety each June.”

It may be only one state to take a stand, but it’s a start. And every important cause needs to start somewhere.