I hid under a staircase in the Fort Lauderdale airport and tried to remember how to breathe. Around me, police officers took their positions, guns raised. An older woman begged her husband to hide. Two women huddled together, crying.

When you’re in school, you’re told to get into a single file line and get out as quickly as you can in case of a fire. You’re told to prop up a desk and hide if there is an animal (read: shooter) in the school. But until you find yourself in that situation, you never really know how you’re going to react. So, you act on instinct, and you hope your instincts are correct.

My response at Fort Lauderdale was reactionary, and it seems that has been the government’s response as well. Far too many times have we stood up in front of citizens, in front of mourners, in front of victims and asked them to hope and pray. Hoping and praying doesn’t bring people back. Hoping and praying doesn’t take deadly weapons out of the hands of people who shouldn’t be using them.

Gun deaths can be stopped with sensible gun control laws

It boggles my mind that we live in a society with solutions, yet the people who are supposed to protect us are constantly avoiding them. If the Republican party acknowledged the threat of global warming and funded efforts to save the planet instead of oil and fracking companies, maybe hurricane Harvey and hurricane Irma and hurricane Maria could have been avoided.

And in the same breath, maybe if we stopped fighting about states’ rights and looked at the exact wording of the 2nd Amendment (“A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” Where does that give the individual the right to bear arms?) maybe we could focus on passing laws that keep military-grade weapons out of the hands of the public.

After the Shooting in Orlando, Rick Scott said that “all we can do is pray.” After the shooting in Fort Lauderdale, Trump tweeted, “thoughts and prayers for all. Stay safe!”

I am tired of praying for the violence to stop when all I can see are the solutions to end it. Speaking as someone who has lived through the violence, but also as a heartbroken citizen of this country, we need to stop accepting our government’s tendency to pray instead of act.

The Republican party has refused to take action before

So, I say to the Republican majority, who currently holds the power in Congress and the House of Representatives and the executive branch: the lives taken last night rest on your shoulders. They rested on your shoulders when you voted down two background check measures in June 2016. They rested on your shoulders when you let the NRA pick your Presidents, starting with Reagan and now leading us to Trump. They rested on your shoulders when you refused to confirm Merrick Garland, selfishly willing to leave a gap in the Supreme Court, knowing that he could open up the possibility for secure background checks and stricter gun control laws.

Today, Donald Trump called the Las Vegas shooting an “act of pure evil.” You know what is also an act of pure evil, Donald?

When the man who is supposed to lead this country, the man who is supposed to protect its citizens, the man who has been trusted, depended on, and privileged to guide us, consistently leaves us vulnerable to staring down the barrel of a gun.

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