June 12th, 2017.
As this day came and passed, we remembered the calamity that ensued exactly a year ago in which 49 innocent members of the LGBTQ+ community were killed in the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando, Florida. Currently living in Orlando, this tragedy hit, quite literally, close to home.
Photo: Mercedes Mehling on Unsplash
Similar to the aftermath of the other attacks that have devastated our world in recent times, international communities came together to show their solidarity with Americans in the face of this loss. We tweeted, hashtagged, liked, and shared. But after that, we move on with our daily lives until the next tragedy occurs.
However, here in the eye of the storm, I felt the hurt long after the social media mourning died down. I saw my community lock hands and wipe each other’s tears. I saw my city painted in rainbows, shedding light on what seemed to be an eternal darkness. I saw the members of my mosque standing in line to donate blood while fasting during the month of Ramadan, without a second thought. I saw progress in the face of disaster.
This is the kind of progress we should be witnessing on a national scale. In light of the one-year anniversary of the Pulse shooting, it is important that now, more than ever, we take serious action in order to prevent this from happening again in the future.
Despite the fact that the United States leads the world in mass shootings, our current administration has made no new effort to amend the country’s gun control laws. With the Pulse shooting being the largest mass shooting the United States has experienced to date, the anniversary of the shooting should both honor the innocent lives that were lost and raise national action toward tightening our gun safety laws.
The Pulse shooter, Omar Mateen, bought his guns completely legally despite being investigated twice by the FBI, though inconclusively. Along with this, Mateen had previously been on the FBI terror watch list, which should have made his excessive ammunition and weapon purchases a red flag to authorities.
Though the claims that the right to bear arms cannot be completely stripped from the public is valid, this cannot be done without exercising a degree of common sense. These rights are bestowed upon citizens who stand for the values stated in the document from which they are derived, not expected by those who threaten those very values. However, despite the necessity for a change in our treatment of weapons, we cannot expect this change to come from our government alone. Instead, the country needs to band together to make it known that we will not stand for this threat to our safety and make it known to an administration that has consistently disregarded these concerns.
Presidents don’t make change, people do.
Zoya Wazir is a seventeen-year-old Muslim-American with a deep rooted passion for social activism and writing. She plans to double major in Journalism and Political Science in order to work toward achieving the change she wishes to see in the American media. In her fleeting free time, she also likes to create/appreciate art, read celebrity autobiographies, and binge-watch Bollywood movies.