by Elizabeth Sponaugle
Managing editor

We live in a country where more than 31,000 people die from gun violence every year. We live in a world where Americans make up 4.4 percent of the population but own over half of the civilian-owned guns. We live in a world where mass shootings don’t lead to political action but rather serve as a platform for political candidates.

Every time there is another mass shooting politicians send out their condolences, followed by tearful, heartfelt speeches, and a few months of advocating for gun control, but nothing ever changes. The most recent example of this being the Las Vegas shooting.

I have seen the headline “The Worst Mass Shooting History” three different times in my lifetime, and I am only 16 years old. This shouldn’t be the reality, but it’s the heartbreaking truth.

In 2007, the Virginia Tech rampage killed 32 people. Just last year in 2016, the Pulse Nightclub shooting killed 49 people. Now, the Las Vegas shooting at the Route 91 Harvest Fest is the deadliest shooting in modern US history, with the deaths of at least 58 people and more than 500 injured.

We see these events on the news and hear these astounding numbers, but cannot fathom the magnitude of them. These are people. These are real people, mothers, fathers, children, just trying to go to school, or work, or a concert. They have no idea what one deranged individual is planning and no idea that their lives could change forever or simply end with the pull of a trigger.

In times like these, a number of questions arise: who, what, and why. Perhaps the most important question is examined is the how: how did this happen? There is not one definitive answer to this question. Some will dismiss it as the actions of one individual, some will blame the security, and others will look at it as the failure by the government to impose stricter gun control laws, frankly, all of these are true.

As a nation, we cannot control the actions of one person, we can tighten security, but to an extent. What we can do is create stricter laws and policies to protect the citizens of this country.

The Las Vegas shooter had 17 guns in his hotel room alone, including numerous assault rifles, which the police believe were purchased legally. Weapons of mass destruction, as they have been called, can be purchased legally and can easily end up in the hands of people who have no need for them, yet, we are shocked when mass shootings like this take place.

When does this stop? When do people stand up and say that they have had enough? How many people must die and how many senseless acts of violence must take place in order for lawmakers to make a change?

Gun violence in America has gone too far. We must urge lawmakers in this country to pass laws that restrict the type of gun, the size of the cartridges, and the people who can buy them. As students, many of you believe that we don’t have a say in politics, but we do. You can start the conversation about gun violence. Talk about it, tweet about it, start the conversation, because in a few years we will be the ones voting and the ones that get to push for change.

The victims of this massacre are not just numbers, this event is not just something happening 2,000 miles away, this effects us. Many people who read this will simply think of these events as the terrible price to pay for living in a nation with the right to bear arms, or as the horrid actions of a few sickened individuals. However, as a nation and as human beings we must stand together against gun violence. Whether you support democrats or republicans, we are all humans and are all subject to the effects of gun violence. As the next generation, we get to decide what happens next, we get to decide what kind of world we get to live in.

Make a good choice.