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Unloading the gun

Gun control is currently being heavily debated because of the recent presidential election. The democratic candidate, Hillary Clinton, is pro gun control and the republican candidate, Donald Trump, is against it.  Guns can cause lots of harm and contribute to a great amount of deaths, which is why I have always been an advocate for gun control. Since there is such a large number accidental and purposeful shootings, it’s hard not to live in fear. What if I go to the grocery store and there is a gunman? These types of questions are not unrealistic concerns in today’s society. It’s chilling to me that anyone can get their hands on a gun and hurt others. There have been countless occasions where even infants stumble upon their parents loaded gun and accidently end up using it, unaware of the consequences.

On Saturday, Oct. 22 gun control became a more personal cause for me after I was close to a potential shooter. I was outside of a hotel in Downtown Los Angeles when I found myself in the presence of a crime involving an armed man. Following tradition, my large tight knit family was taking family photos before my cousin’s Bar Mitzvah began.  We were all laughing and happy to be with each other, and not paying attention to any possible dangers around us. Within seconds, five cop cars quickly pulled up in front of us and urgently got out of their cars. They held up their guns, and alerted everyone to get on the ground and take refuge. My heart raced as I hid behind a car, though some relatives continued to rubber neck the thrilling event. A security guard grabbed everyone and brought us inside. We panicked and embraced each other, making sure that everyone was safe. We then found out from the security guard that there was an angry, drunken man with a loaded gun who was a suspect from a previous crime.

Although the whole incident only lasted two minutes, the emotional impact it left on me had a strong presence all night and was a truly life changing experience. That moment was a huge reality check: it made me realize the importance of life and not to take anything for granted. It really proves how anything, even a joyous celebration, can quickly turn into a traumatic event. Being surrounded by my family helped me calm down; knowing that we were all together and secure, but in the moment, it heightened my stress because one of them might have been hurt.

I feel a connection to everyone who is a victim of gun violence and sympathized for families and friends who have lost loved ones. When I would hear about shootings on the news in the past, I was upset and tried to imagine being in that situation. However, because of the physical space between me and the victims, I never felt fully empathetic to them, having never experienced gun violence first hand. After that Saturday night, I become more emotional when I hear about gun violence. I have now filled the gap that I was missing and can really picture myself in others’ situations because I know what it’s like now. Gun violence can really happen to anyone.

The gunman in my situation already had a criminal record, but no law restricted him from getting his hands on such a powerful weapon. With this election shining a light on matters of gun control in the United States, I really hope there will be laws regulating who can have guns and how they can use them. I want to make sure that people are not in the frightening situation that I was in and do not have to live in this type of fear anymore. π