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Why Oregon's Umpqua Community College Shooting Should Be America's Last

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I'm not an American citizen. I wasn't born in the States, nor did I grow up there. I spent most of my life living in the Netherlands, which is usually seen as one of the most "free" or progressive countries out there. But I was surrounded by American culture - movies, TV shows, music, books and art all made their ways into my head. Events happening on American soil were always featured on the news, as if they were part of our own daily lives. We're connected like that.

The United States represents strength, power and confidence. It's a land where dreams can be turned into reality, and where the people aren't afraid to speak their minds, where the unthinkable becomes a possibility. It saddens me to say that it also includes ambiguous policies, bad decisions and unfortunate events that seem copied straight out of a horror movie. It's horrible to learn that another tragedy took place last week, another shooting, another list of names, another group of people whose lives have been forever affected.
Maybe it's because I never grew up in the U.S., but in a country that prohibits guns and where the only time I've held an actual gun was at a fair (and I was aiming for a circle on a piece of paper), I don't understand it. I don't get how Jeb Bush gets to say "stuff happens," and that'll be all. I don't get that people teach children how to wield a gun when they're far too young to understand the consequences. I don't get the perpetual blindness of America when it comes to its gun laws.

Like President Barack Obama said, draw up the statistics and see what you'll find - gun violence related deaths have by far outnumbered terrorism-related deaths. How is it possible that a tragic event, taking the lives of innocent teens that were only about to discover the beauty of life, has become somewhat of a normal occurrence? How is it OK that organizations such as the National Rifle Association determine policies, rather than the people who've been on the receiving end of a bullet far too often? How is it, that the Second Amendment weighs heavier than the right to life?
It's time for change. And it's time to review America's gun laws and restrict them. And that shouldn't be such a tough call to make. It shouldn't anger current gun owners - they should celebrate it instead, when those restrictions can save their lives, their children's lives and the lives of so many other people they may never learn the name of. As long as they've got nothing to hide and are responsible, then they've got nothing to worry about with additional background checks.

And yes, you could say that it's not the gun that kills, but the person pulling the trigger - but someone was responsible for putting that gun in the hands of the killer, too. Someone offered them a trigger to pull, and isn't that just the thing? Buying a gun is buying the potential to kill. Statistics have confirmed this, over and over again. So it's not just sensible, or logical, to restrict who gets to sell and who gets to buy something that is able to dictate another heartbeat - it's absolutely necessary.
Because America is strong, it's powerful and it's confident. And it shouldn't allow its citizens the possibility to transform schools into a shooting range and students into targets. In a land that was built upon dreams and possibilities, there should be no space for those who end aspirations with a bullet. And I know that even though I'm not an American, I know that there are many who would agree to stricter gun control - including gun owners themselves. So it's time to revive the image that I grew up with, of the American who isn't afraid to speak his/her mind, who creates possibilities and who inspires.

Lucero Alcarez, Treven Taylor Anspach, Rebecka Ann Carnes, Quinn Glen Cooper, Kim Saltmarth Dietz, Lucas Eibel, Jason Dale Johnson, Lawrence Levine and Sarena Dawn Moore. America knows their names for all the wrong reasons. They all deserved more, so don't let the Umpqua Community College shooting be just another incident. Instead, let it be a Kickstarter for change.
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