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.

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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

Violence in Failing Venezuela Schools — AP Images Blog

A beautifully written article. These kids are no older than me yet are having such sad thoughts. It helps me remember that I’m truly lucky to be where I am now.

Photos by Ariana Cubillos Maria Arias slipped her notebooks into her backpack, scrounged for a banana to share with her brother and sister, and set off for high school through narrow streets so violent taxis will not come here for any price.

via No Food, No Teachers, Violence in Failing Venezuela Schools — AP Images Blog

What Owning Dogs Has Taught Me

Selfies with my puppies.

Selfies with my puppies.

In honor of national dog day (which was on Tuesday) I decided to dedicate this post to my precious babies (my puppies).

My family has had a total of three dogs. Our first one tragically died during our year in Texas, it was so sad and if you were to ever talk to my mom about it, she’d probably tear up and change the subject after describing how good of a dog our first baby was. It was heartbreaking. Once we managed to recover, we received two little sisters. Their names are Alice and Olivia and they are the cutest things ever.

My family has been owners of dogs for about five years now, so that basically makes us experts on the subject. Of course, owning a pet can really change the way you look at animals, and here are some of the things I’ve noticed about owning dogs.

1. They have feelings. This may sound strange but before owning dogs, I never really thought of animals having feelings or preferences. My first dog taught me that not only do they have feelings, but they’re also very adamant about what they like or don’t like. He didn’t like to be pet while eating and he didn’t like to have his paws touched at all. Our dogs now have very picky tastes and the fatter one picks and chooses what she wants out of her kibble.

2. They have their own personalities. Again, this was something I never thought of before owning dogs. My current dogs fight a lot yet cry when they’re without each other. The fatter puppy, Alice, is a feisty girl who doesn’t like to be touched too much while Olivia, the skinny one, is timid and shy. She sometimes will just sit next to you just because she wants to be close. Alice, on the other hand, prefers to be alone yet wants you there when she needs it. Alice loves car rides, sometimes she tries to hang outside the window and we have to drag her back into the car, Olivia will shake and throw up the first minute she steps into a car.

3. THEY LOVE YOU SO MUCH. You could step on them and they’ll come back to you with the same adoring eyes they always have. They just stare at you with a loving look, and sometimes, when you’re sitting on the couch, they’ll move to your side just to be close to you.

4. It’s like they know when you’re tired or sad. It’s soul comfort when they curl up into your lap after a long day. They know when you’ve had a bad day and they know just how to help you.

5. They’re family. The reason my family was so devastated after the death of my first dog was because we loved him as if he had been with us since the beginning. Even with our dogs now, it feels as if they were born right into our family, and we love them as so.

Some believe owning a dog is just saving another dog from a kennel. I believe that owning a dog actually saves the owner rather than the puppy, they will love you unconditionally, forever. They will even love you more than they love themselves.

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This is Alice after we gave her a bath.

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Alice on the left, Olivia on the right.