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ESPOSITO: Young people must fight gun violence

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Yet another group of students stood huddled and hiding in dark classrooms, texting their loved ones goodbye on this past Thursday. 

A 16-year-old boy unloaded gunfire at his high school in California, killing two students and injuring a total of six just before turning the gun on himself. And as usual, it trended across all social media platforms. As usual, students of all ages cried out for reform, our leaders sent their condolences and we all vowed for change. 

Now, three days later, the shooting that forever altered the lives of so many, is already being pushed out of the media cycle. Just like Columbine, Parkland and Sandy Hook, the gun debate heats up, then simmers down. Especially in the case of Saugus High School, because the reality of school shootings have become so normal, people are not maintaining their outrage. 

They expect these heinous acts, they defend the fact that crazy people will be crazy and that there is nothing we can do. Without the shock factor that mass shootings used to give us, people began to lose their spark and come to terms with the normality of shootings that has only occurred in recent decades. 

The incoming generation cannot lose motivation. We cannot throw our hands into the air and resign ourselves to the fact that nothing ever changes, that we did the best we could. It is plainly and simply written into our laws how policies change. 

We vote, we elect people that speak to what we want to get accomplished and they do their best to make it happen. Things do not change immediately, we still face problems of racism and sexism, civil rights battles we have fought for decades. But every day, we move forward. And we must move forward with the movement against gun violence. 

Approximately two years ago, thousands of students and faculty members internationally walked out on March 14, 2018, to protest gun violence. A few weeks later, the “March for Our Lives” was one of the biggest youth protests of all time. Millions of people rallied, organized, marched and protested. 

People everywhere, especially youth, all want the same thing. We want change, we want these shootings and gun violence to end. And for a minute there, in the wake of the 2018 Parkland, Florida, shooting, when the world stood up and said “never again,” it seemed as if things were changing. 

But the fight lost steam. As the school shooting disappeared from the news cycle, society got distracted. The fierce student activists faded from the forefront of our minds. And we moved on. And the issue of gun violence is still as prevalent as it ever was. 

The largest group of active voters is senior citizens. The laziest voters are the newest generation. In the age of instant gratification, where our smartphones and the internet offer us whatever we need in seconds, Generation Z is ignorant to the fact that real, legitimate change takes time. 

We write off elections, we claim our voices do not matter. They do not matter if we do not use them. 

It is easy to walk out of your school in the name of reforming gun violence. It is easy to hashtag #MarchforOurLives on twitter. What comes after is the hard part. The dedication to making a difference. The long, uphill battle for the reform of gun control. 

It is possible, our history shows us that. Segregation did not end when Martin Luther King Jr. gave his “I Have a Dream” speech, or when Rosa Parks refused to get off the bus. Equality was not achieved when Massachusetts legalized gay marriage, for the first time ever in the United States. The things that matter do not come instantly. 

We cannot lose sight of the urgent issue of gun reform, no matter how hard or uncomfortable it is. The generations before us have fought their battles. It is our turn now.

Laura Esposito is in the School of Arts and Sciences sophomore majoring in journalism and political science. Her column, "Unapologetically," runs on alternate Tuesdays.

*Columns, cartoons and letters do not necessarily reflect the views of the Targum Publishing Company or its staff.

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