By JENNIFER MANDELBLATT
Our forefathers enabled us to “provide for the common defense” while still securing the “Blessings of Liberty.” And so, our effort to reduce gun violence is not an attempt to infringe upon rights, but rather a pursuit of the mission prescribed by our Constitution. Freedom of speech is our fundamental right, yet even that has restrictions. One cannot yell “fire” in a crowded room because it would incite a “clear and present danger;” it is time to apply such logic to gun control. While it is our right to bear arms, our first unalienable right is that of life, and right now too many people are coming home to empty seats at dinner tables. As of January 21, one more seat will be left unattended because Andrew Boldt of Purdue University was shot and killed while in class.
Between 2000 and 2008, 65 people lost their lives to gun violence in fourteen different attacks on fourteen different college campuses. Since then, there have been attacks on nine different campuses, including the one at Purdue, killing 22 more people. It is important to remember that the 87 people tallied above are not just parts of a mere statistic. They were 87 individuals — each with a face, a personality and history — and they were cruelly taken from friends and families because of guns.
It may be argued that it is inappropriate to legislate in the wake of tragedy, but it is now when the pain is raw, when our ears are ringing with grieving voices, that we understand our duty to protect our fellow Americans. If we instead choose silence, we submit to our tendency to forget, as we have so recently done.
To end the silence and put the nation on a path toward a safer tomorrow, it is left to us to take action. As the “broke college students,” we cannot stand up against the NRA financially, but we must prove that our involvement in politics is not to be underestimated. By 2015, our generation will make up “one-third of the electorate.” If we embrace this fact by registering to vote and showing up on election days, we can hold the government accountable.
But filling out a ballot is only the beginning. To make lasting change, we need to generate dialogue, raise awareness and create solutions; a walk across Ho Plaza on any day will prove that we can do just that. The effort to reduce gun violence does not begin and end with elected officials. Rather, it takes root in the voices of civilian leaders and student activists.
As we remember recent events, we must make a commitment and an allegiance to our country. In times of terrible sadness, we must never forget that we have an amazing capacity as Americans to love and preserve as one. If we move forward together, change will surely come.