No More Victims

“Guns don’t kill people! People kill people!” That is true. Nikolas Cruz did kill people. He killed 17 innocent people in Parkland, Florida on February 14. Now tell me what he killed them with. Say it with me: a gun. A semiautomatic gun to be exact; an AR-15 that, personally, I believe know holds no place in civilian society.

We can all agree, no matter our political allegiance, that mass shootings in America is a problem. Most of these shootings can be traced back to semiautomatic weapons and more specifically, the AR-15. Supporters of this detestable mass murder machine say that it is not the weapon’s fault for being the most popular gun of choice amongst mass shooters, to which I say: why are mass shooters even being given the choice? As much as I would love to see the United States take sweeping measures like Australia after the Port Arthur Massacre, I know that our current government would not be able to handle taking such a large and responsible step in the right direction. So, for now, I am willing to compromise. I simply ask that two steps be added in the process of obtaining a gun in America: universal background checks and mental-health evaluations.

Some may argue that checking to see if someone is a criminal and mentally sound will infringe on privacy rights but when someone is about to purchase a deadly weapon, isn’t it simply the responsible thing to do? I would rather that measures be in place to protect the public than hear that my younger brother had to hide in a closet from someone who was able to buy a semiautomatic rifle from down the street despite having a history of violence.

Someone with a history of domestic violence or a felony on their record should not be allowed to own a firearm. Unfortunately, just a background check alone does not do much as Nikolas Cruz’s lack of a criminal record before February 14 allowed him to pass a background check. However, and this is where everyone freaks out so bear with me, if a mental health evaluation were added to the process of obtaining a gun, he most certainly would have been barred from buying one and 17 people would still be alive today.

In Japan, the process of just getting a license to own a gun can take months. One of the steps in this extensive process is visiting a mental-health professional who evaluates whether or not you are fit to be in possession of such a dangerous weapon. If someone is clearly not in the right state of mind, they should not be allowed near something that could hurt themselves and the people around them. Even President Donald Trump agrees that red flags should be noted and, in light of the recent Florida school shooting, tweeted that it is unacceptable “that the FBI missed all of the many signals sent out by the Florida school shooter.” The FBI receives an unprecedented amount of threats of gun violence daily; some are serious and some are not. With so many threats so often, it becomes hard to sift through the reports and things can slip through the cracks – such was the case with Cruz.

Japan

Japan may beat us in education but hey! We got them in gun violence! Credit to BBC

No matter how much the President has deluded himself that a tweet will solve everything, it won’t. Having universal background checks and mandatory mental-health evaluations will. This two-step process to getting a gun will filter out the people unfit to possess a firearm and the mere fact that one would have to potentially wait months to even get permission to get a license is a deterrent of its own. But let’s say someone were to still manage to pass these tests and the FBI were to be notified of dangerous activity, they would actually be able to allocate resources to investigating since this system would hopefully serve to cut down on such reports. If Nikolas Cruz were forced to undergo a psychiatric evaluation before purchasing an AR-15, his evaluator would have immediately denied his request to buy a gun after seeing that he was prone to violent outbursts in addition to displaying other forms of disturbing and erratic behavior.  

Gun control is not gun confiscation. Let me say that again because it seems that some people don’t understand: control is not confiscation. I would love to see all guns completely banned from this trigger-happy country but, considering the pitiful state of our current government, that is not going to happen soon. Lucky to those Second Amendment fetishists stuck in 1791. Gun control is simply the regulation of dangerous weapons and the protection of innocent people. Yes, there are people who want to hurt others and yes, they might find sources outside of guns to do so, but give me one case in which 17 people were murdered in less than 10 minutes by someone with a knife.

I’d list all the names of the victims of American gun violence in this year alone, notice how we’re just in the second month of 2018, but I don’t think there would be enough room to list all 60-plus names. And that number will most certainly go up unless we work to make changes to our current system. Thoughts and prayers don’t mean a damn thing when people are being murdered every day. Call your Senators and call your state representatives. Let Parkland be the last.

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Credit to Tampa Bay Times

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The Midwest

How long has it been? Too long. Last you guys heard from me, I was nearing the end of my high school career, just coming back from a fabulous journey in South Korea. Now I have left the comfort of my SoCal lifestyle to explore the Midwest, more specifically, Wisconsin. Yes folks, I am a Wisconsinite. A Sconnie. A Cheesehead.

Why Wisconsin for college? Well the wonderful Posse Foundation has awarded me with an incredible scholarship in order to study at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Also, who doesn’t want to study out-of-state?

I have been having the time of my life out here in Wisconsin, eating all the cheese curds I can get my hands on (Every time I eat another one, the words “Freshman 15” flash through my head). Oh, and studying. I do that too.

So considering everything, I guess I am a Cheese-Headed Writing Monkey now…

Korea!

Hello all! I am back from Korea and you know I just had to make a cheesy video of my experiences out there.

But first, a little backstory. In November last year, I was accepted to a program called Project Bridge. Its purpose is to bridge the gap between cultures, more specifically, Korean culture after the LA Riots. Despite being Korean, I know next to nothing about my ancestry, which is why I signed up for Project Bridge. Surprisingly I got in and twice a month, I attended workshops with 7 other students all over Los Angeles. Finally our workshops led us to a 10 day trip to Korea (an ~all expenses paid~ trip, might I add). There was another Project Bridge group in New York and we all met up upon arriving in Korea and from there, we travelled as one.

We were lucky enough to stay with busy high schoolers, live with monks, meet large Korean companies, and connect with a culture not distinctly seen in the vast melting pot of America.

Now here I am, back from Korea with many stories, memories, and connections I will never forget. It was emotional and beautiful and seeing a new country so different than what I’m used to yet vaguely familiar was a strange feeling and I hope one day I can go back.

More information about Project Bridge and PCI, the group that established Project Bridge.

And the video you’ve all been waiting for, enjoy!

 

Rice CakesKing Sejong StatueHanbokLanternsFish Market

The McDonald’s

My mom pulled into the empty parking lot of the unfamiliar McDonald’s at midnight. The artificial gleam from McDonald’s was the only light for miles. The sun was gone. The stars covered by clouds. The clouds draped in black. The black even blacker than the concrete of the parking lot.

The McDonald’s was still open.

Mom told me to get her a coffee. Said I could get a burger. Handed me a 10.

The McDonald’s was unfamiliar. The glaring light was too bright. The cashier’s glowing yellow shirt had an unsettling deep red stain under her illegible name tag. Her smile dragged like an enormous slit across her white skin as I walked in. “Howdy! What can I get y’all?” My mom was still at the car. I was alone.

My order took longer than it would have at the McDonald’s by my house. I waited in a dark booth, in a corner, away from the cashier. The harsh light still glared, but unable to reach me, leaving me sitting in darkness. I tried to make out the words of the man’s voice coming from the radio. It sounded like another language. It sounded like a warning.

I left the McDonald’s with food and coffee. My mom was still at the car. Had it gotten darker? Where are the clouds? Where are the stars? Where are we? I did not ask as I climbed back into the car with the woman who claimed to be my mother. I did not ask why we kept driving. I did not ask where we were going. The McDonald’s glaring light followed us as we drove on.

The Dragon Prince

Hello father,

It is Alexander. It’s been a week since the evil witch cursed me to become a dragon and several days since you started your journey to find a cure but it turns out that the royal physicians have had a solution. Apparently it’s pretty simple so I guess you can come back to the castle now. I’m warning you though, I am not going to let them turn me back into a human just yet – it’s not often you can spit fire from your mouth. I just learned how to fly and my wing strength is greatly improving as well. I’m trying to teach myself how to do tricks now.

I’m also in the process of convincing Sophia to pretend to be my captured princess in the top of one of our towers (she’s already a princess so she’s got half of it covered already). She’s not taking to the idea but I think with enough convincing she might agree.

While I seem to be the only one, right now, excited by this fantastic development, I’m sure you’ll learn to love it as well. Mother isn’t too happy and I think she’s yelling at me to change back but it’s hard to hear her when I’m so much larger than her.

Travel safe,

Prince Alexander the Dragon (I’ve added “the Dragon” to the end of my name, cool, right?)

P.S. I accidentally burnt Baron Seymour’s eyebrows off when I sneezed yesterday. He’s quite angry so you may have to have a talk with him later.

P.P.S. Do you think I can lay eggs?

The Captured Princess 2

Previous Chapter

After much convincing, Beth finally had the prince in her house. She had forced him to climb up the rope she had made by stringing a few bed sheets together, though he had to leave the pizza on the ground in order to climb it. Now he was standing in her home and she could get a better look at him.

Beth had much to expect due to her books and he was exactly what she wanted: dark hair, dark eyes, tall, and well built. His splay of freckles differed from the picture she had in mind, so did his tanned skin, but she could manage. He also looked more timid than expected but this was something she could also deal with. Her books never mentioned anything about their personalities so Beth assumed any type was good. Besides, if he had looks, who cared about his character?

princess

Princess Beth

“So… money?” He looked a little impatient; maybe he was in a hurry to marry her? The thought suddenly struck her and she gave a little gasp.

She commanded the prince to wait exactly where he was before rushing to the library down the hall. All her reference books for this situation were hidden behind the books on flowers. She furiously flipped through pages to find her favorite story of the trapped princess in the tower.

The prince was starting to get worried. Entering the house of a customer was strictly against the Pixie Pizza Code of Conduct yet so was leaving money behind, so technically he was following the rules. The more pressing matter was the fact that this ditzy girl seemed to have no idea what money is. He rechecked the paper in his hand, 2400 Bellflower Street…

Princess Beth reentered the room. She had redone her hair and even changed the sash around her dress. In a silvery voice she gave her proclamation, “Young Prince, I will willingly go away with you-”

“Hold on. What is the address of this place?”

“Excuse me?”

“The address? What’s your address?”

Beth had never felt so insulted. First this prince doesn’t immediately climb into her home, and then he just expects her to marry him without even asking, and then interrupts her while she accepts the unspoken proposal, what was the princess of the world to do? Well she knew he was going to be a tough one, though her storybooks never had difficult princes.

castle

Princess Beth’s castle

He probably was asking so he knew where to send the invitation for their wedding. All her irritation evaporated and she cheerfully relayed the address that Joy had imbedded into her mind, “2400 Bellflower Lane. Now if you’ll let me continue, I do believe I was in the middle of accepting your-”

The prince shook his head, “No need, it looks like I messed up. Good bye!” And started for the window.

Poor Princess Beth almost burst into tears. All her hard work just for her prince to be chasing a different princess!

The prince looked into her watery eyes and knew he had to escape now or he’d never get to leave. What he didn’t know was that eighteen years of reading princess stories had taught something to Beth. She pressed a pale hand to her heart and sank to her knees. With a loud moan followed by a sob, she curled over. She called this ‘Damsel in Distress’, a genius ploy to gain pity.

Peaking up at him, Beth noticed he had hesitated. “At least… tell me your name.”

“I think what’s more important is that we call for help.”

She had preformed the trick too well – he thought she was really ill! His concern did make her blush and she almost allowed him to get help, but Joy had warned of the dangers of too many people seeing Beth. Then again, Joy also warned her of inviting random people into the mansion.

“I’ll be fine,” she said quickly. “It happens from time to time. I just want to know your name. For future reference.”

He moved closer to the window, “Since you’re fine, I’m going to go. I still have to deliver the…” He looked down and froze. The pizza box he’d left on the ground had disappeared. A wandering forest nymph must’ve stolen the delicious goods. His heart sank as he calculated how much this loss would take out his pay.

His dismay did not keep him still for long. Before the princess could react, he was starting down the rope.

She ran over and set her hands on the rope, determined to pull him back up. He glanced up and their eyes connected. Beth knew he didn’t want to stay. Slowly she released the rope and watched him reach the ground. The boy made a half-hearted attempt to find the pizza before dejectedly walking away.

Beth still waited by the window; not knowing what she was expecting but unwilling to look away. Perhaps it was because he felt sorry for her or perhaps it was because he felt her stare burning holes into his back, no matter the reason, the prince turned around. “I’m Eric Benson, by the way. Also, I’m not a prince.”

Of course, Princess Beth didn’t hear the last line.