Save Us Now: Regulate Guns


Our generation is the generation that will save this earth–we hear it all the time. It’s a lot of pressure, I have to admit. When I look at my peers, I see strength, resilience, and passion, but I also see struggle, helplessness, and pressure. How can we save this earth if we cannot save ourselves? There is another pandemic among the youth that is not COVID. It is a mental health pandemic, and the government allows us to suffer. We cannot have all the pressure of ending gun violence, world hunger, racism, and global warming, helping women get equal rights, to name a few, if the people saying we are the change cannot help us be the change.

Recently, I had the privilege of advocating on behalf of Students Demand Action with Moms Demand Action, an organization created to stop gun violence across America at the Virginia Capitol in Richmond. I have been involved with this organization since the horrific shooting in Uvalde, Texas, at Robb Elementary School that took away the lives of 21 innocent people. This shooting is just one of so many that were avoidable. Nineteen of the victims were children with a bright future ahead of them.

What I came to realize from this experience is how much guns truly impact children. Of course, I know guns have been the leading cause of death in adolescents since 2020, according to The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), but did I forget to mention that this is not a worldwide phenomenon? It’s uniquely American problem. Other country’s laws protect their children. Most of these deaths could have been stopped with proper gun regulations.

Although we hear of the horrific mass shootings when they happen, they are not nearly as common as other types of death by gun violence. One third of those deaths are suicide, according to the CDC. Why does this seem like the only option for so of us? Moreover, why do we have the lethal resource of a gun to carry out this life-ending decision?

Students Demand Action is a part of the Everytown organization, which published a report in June 2022 that has shined a light on just how serious the problem has become, “over the past decade, the firearm suicide rate among young people has reached its highest rate in more than 20 years.” They say that “the rate of firearm suicide among ages 10-24 has increased 53 percent in the past decade” and that “90 percent of suicide attempts with a gun are fatal.”

When hopeless, the youth turns to a bright light; that light is the end where they hope the pain will stop. Guns are the quickest and most effective way to end your life in seconds. The rise in these rates is frightening; as the death toll of my peers rises, so does the number of guns purchased yearly. Nothing is changing.

I mean, honestly, if I had access to a gun in my darkest parts of life, I would not be a high school senior going to college next year; I would be the West Potomac student who died by suicide before she was able to make the impact she wanted to. I want to be what my generation is known for; I want to be the impact we need. However, I cannot do that if I am not living.

There are many problems in this country and this world that my generation wants to begin to solve, yet this epidemic has led many of us to think the only way through the struggle is out. If we cannot get the necessary help to handle our mental health concerns and heartaches, how can we even begin to fathom moving on to more significant issues? We need to see a change in how mental health is treated in the US, but this will take time, so gun control regulations are the quickest and easiest way to help us now.