Loopholes and Gun Control

The year is 1999. The setting? Columbine High School in Columbine, Colorado. At 11:20AM on April 20th, two seniors, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, opened fire outside of the school. Their rampage ended around 50 minutes later, leaving 15 dead, including themselves.

The year is 2007. The setting? Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Virginia. At 7:15AM on April 16th, Seung-Hui Cho, a senior at the university, begins shooting at West Ambler Johnston Hall, leaving one of the resident advisors dead. By the time the mass shooting was over around 2 1/2 hours later, there were 33 deaths, including that of the shooter.

The year is 2012. The setting? Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. At around 9:30AM on December 14th, 20-year-old Adam Lanza shot and killed his mother, then began shooting in the elementary school, killing 28 people, including himself. Nobody knows why he targeted the school. Nobody ever will.

These three tragedies could have been prevented. Harris and Klebold got their guns because at the time, Colorado didn’t require background checks on private gun sales. Cho got his because of another loophole–because he willingly checked himself into a mental hospital and wasn’t forced into it, he was allowed to purchase a gun. Lanza was diagnosed with Asperger’s (now called autism spectrum disorder) and it’s speculated that he had schizophrenia that went undiagnosed. He also had OCD. I’m a firm believer that anyone with any sort of mental illness (barring eating disorders and learning disabilities) should NOT be allowed to own a firearm under ANY circumstances.

However, there’s more to it. A lot of shootings happen in gun-free zones. The reason for this should be obvious–nobody can stop a shooter if there’s no law-abiding citizen who carries a gun to defend themselves and everyone around them. You only are made aware of problems like this when it happens. And if it’s prevented, it’s not mentioned at all most of the time.

So, here’s what I believe could be different:

  1. Every gun dealer, private or not, runs an extensive background check.
  2. Anyone diagnosed with any sort of mental disorder should be barred from owning a gun.
  3. Gun-free zones shouldn’t exist, even in schools. Because think about how many shootings have happened in schools.

Stay safe everyone. Put your thoughts in the comments.

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A letter to the boy who left me broken and depressed

I’m so sorry. I know how badly I hurt you and I’m sorry for that. What happened shouldn’t have happened the way it did. I’m glad we broke up, but I wish we could’ve remained friends. But that’s not on me.

That’s on you.

You’re the one who strung me along after the breakup, making me think maybe we had a future together after all, only to crush that dream, then blame me when our friendship came down with it.

I don’t understand what happened. It’s been 4 years since we broke up and I’m still trying to make sense of it all. Was I really that horrible? You were so loving, then you just…weren’t. And here we are now, and we couldn’t be further away from each other if we were on opposite sides of the world.

Being with you left me broken and depressed. I can’t put all the blame on you. Looking back, I realize now how flawed you were. When we were dating and after we broke up, I couldn’t think of anything that you’d done to get us where we ended up. Now that I’m where I’m at in my life, I know better. You turned your parents against me. Made me look like the psycho girlfriend who wouldn’t leave you alone. You called me a crazy, emotionally abusive ex girlfriend to your friends. You never told me that was how you felt until long after we broke up.

We tried being friends for awhile, after we both healed. Despite what you seem to think, the fall of that is your fault, not mine.

It took me until quite recently to stop feeling in love with you. Seeing you last May sent my recovery into a tailspin. But by the time I saw you on my birthday this year, I was over it. It didn’t ruin my day. It didn’t make me sad. I was a little shaken up, but that was out of surprise.

I wish you all the best in life. I’m satisfied with mine. Find someone who is more compatible. Marry her. Have some kids. Be happy. A part of me will always love you. But most of me realizes that we were doomed from the start. I don’t regret our relationship. I just wish we could’ve remained friends.

Please know that I still care. If you wanted to be friends again, I would be completely okay with that. I forgive you for everything. I hope you can forgive me too.

10 Bad Reasons to Be in a Relationship

Recently, I started crushing on this guy in one of my college classes. We talked about it and decided we’d think about initiating a relationship. Then a week or two later he told me that I needed to work on improving myself and work through my many issues before I entered a relationship with anyone. He’s there to help me through it, but as a friend rather than a boyfriend. He didn’t want to ‘validate’ me.

Here are ten reasons that should NOT be used to enter a relationship.

  1. You want to feel validated. This is bad because if you’re only in a relationship so that you have someone who will make you feel good about yourself, you may be even worse off down the road if you find you have no real common interests or they get tired of appeasing you all the time.
  2. You’re tired of being single. I get it–you see all these happy couples and you miss having someone to share that with, or, if you’ve never had a significant other before, you wish you knew what that happiness is like. But, that desperation means you’re at a much higher risk of ending up with the wrong person, which is worse than being single, because once it inevitably all goes downhill, there’s going to be more heartache as a result than being jealous of what you don’t have.
  3. You want to have sex. Okay, this isn’t necessarily a huge deal anymore with so many people going down the ‘friends with benefits’ route, but it still applies in some cases. This is a bad idea. A very, very bad idea. Because no matter hardened you may think you are, being that intimate with someone is going to leave a mark, and it’s going to hurt if it doesn’t work out.
  4. You’re bored. Learn a hobby. Play video games. Read a dang book. You don’t need to put your heart on the line just because you want something to do.
  5. You’re lonely. That’s what friends are for. I’m sure you have some. And if you want cuddles, go buy a dog.
  6. Your parents like/don’t like him/her. It’s YOUR life, not theirs. Do what makes YOU happy. On the flip side, don’t date someone just because your parents don’t approve. They may have good reason.
  7. You’re filling a void in your life. Nobody likes being used. If you’re only with someone to help you fill an empty spot in your heart, you’re doing it wrong.
  8. All your friends have boy/girlfriends. Peer pressure, my friend. If your friends insist you get a boyfriend/girlfriend to be like them, you need new friends ASAP.
  9. Missionary dating. Come on guys, dating someone solely to lead them into your religion (this is particularly popular with Christians) is not only pointless (because you can witness just as easily in a friendship-type relationship), but can be dangerous, as they’re more likely to bring you to their level than you are to bring them to yours.
  10. They pay attention to you. Again, see #5. That’s what friends are for. AND, friends (usually) won’t try to pressure you into doing intimate things that could lead to horrible heartbreak down the road.

There you have it. Ten bad reasons to start a relationship.This isn’t an exhaustive list of course. Got any others? Feel free to comment. Hope you enjoyed this article.

10 Things You Don’t Say to a Suicidal Person (and what to say instead)

As someone who used to want to commit suicide on pretty much a daily basis, I’ve been told lots of things to try to talk me out of it. Most of them just annoy me and I’m here to tell you why I feel these shouldn’t be used to talk anyone out of it, and what can maybe actually work. Without further ado, I present…

10 THINGS YOU NEVER SAY TO A SUICIDAL PERSON
  1. “It’ll get better.” Maybe not. I’m never going to not have BPD. I will always have this. I will always be on edge because I’m afraid of getting emotional at a bad time. It may get better, but then it’ll get worse again. I’m not suicidal, but you (hopefully) get my point.
  2. “Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem.” See above.
  3. “Suicide is the coward’s way out.” Do you have any idea how brave you have to be to follow through on it? It’s very, VERY hard to kill yourself because of your survival instinct. I don’t think it’s cowardly.
  4. “You’re going to go to hell.” Yea, well, if someone is that sick of life, they probably think that they’re already in hell. You don’t need to guilt trip them. It makes it worse.
  5. “What will your family or friends do without you?” They’ll move on. If I’m dead, what’s it matter to me? Seriously, you’re guilt-tripping again.
  6. “Get over it. You’ll be fine.” See, if someone tells me to ‘get over it’, and I’m truly suicidal, I’m going to say ‘screw you’ and do it anyway.
  7. “You don’t have the nerve.” Don’t count on it.
  8. “You just want attention.” Anyone who does that just for ‘attention’ has bigger problems than wanting to kill themselves.
  9. “Why would you want to do it? You’re so good-looking/well-off/rich/famous!” Seriously? You think that being successful automatically means someone couldn’t possibly have mental issues?
  10. “I’m going to send you to the hospital.” This makes one feel even more unwanted than they already did.
WHAT TO SAY INSTEAD
  1. “I love you.” You should say this as much as you can anyway, but especially when someone is ready to take their own life, because odds are they probably don’t know or they would reconsider.
  2. “Would you like to talk about it?” Sometimes all one needs is someone to listen to them.
  3. “I’m always here if you need to talk.” Counseling does wonders, but when you can’t afford it, it’s nice to have someone to talk to, whether they can give good advice or not.
  4. Smile warmly. It may make them feel a little better.
  5. Just give them a hug! Hugs are nice and always cheer me up at least a little.

Overall, it’s pretty straightforward. Don’t accuse them of anything, don’t guilt-trip, and less is better. A simple ‘I love you’ will go a lot further than saying ‘suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem’. I’m sure there are people who will disagree with me on this, but I’m not backing down without solid proof that I’m wrong. Anyway, I hope that this helped someone and that maybe it changed someone’s perspective.

10 Things Every Teen Needs to Know

Being a teenager is difficult. You’ve got to juggle school (which gets harder once you hit high school), friends, romantic relationships, chores, a job (if you have one), and you’re probably starting to drive, which means making time for that as well. It’s not easy, that’s for sure. So here’s some advice from someone who’s been there. These are 10 things every teenager should know about life.

  1. Don’t stress over your boyfriend/girlfriend. Let’s be honest, you’re probably not going to marry them. I actually would recommend you avoid dating until after you graduate–not because I’m a religious freak, but because I’ve been there and I know how much of a distraction boys can be (and I’m sure it’s the same way vice versa). It’s easier to focus on the important things without that hindering you.
  2. It’s not the end of the world if you don’t want to go to college. Most people will tell you to go to college because you won’t be able to get a good job otherwise. There are plenty of jobs out there for you if you don’t think college is right for you. Yes, college is a good thing, but if you can’t afford it or you just don’t think you can handle it, don’t stress.
  3. People will ALWAYS let you down. Even those you’ve known your whole life that you would trust with your life. We’re human, and messing up is in the job description. You can’t expect anyone to always be there for you and to never disappoint you.
  4. Don’t try too hard to fit in. It’s not worth it. I never hung around the bad crowd when I was in high school, so I don’t know if the high school party scenes you see on TV and in movies is really real or not, but assuming it is, it’s really not worth it. Because in ten years, where do you see those people in life? Where do you see yourself?
  5. When making decisions, think long and hard about the repercussions. Think about all possible outcomes. Consider the consequences or benefits of that decision. The bigger the decision, the longer you should think.
  6. Don’t jump the gun. This kind of goes with #5. Don’t immediately dive into a task until you know it’s what you want. Even with little things–don’t get hot chocolate with water if you know you can get it with milk later.
  7. Don’t commit until you’re sure of yourself. You don’t want to commit to doing something if you aren’t sure you can follow through. It’ll be easier to let the person down in time for them to find someone else than it is to quit last minute.
  8. What you do now probably won’t matter in ten years. Things like fitting in, or listening to the popular music of the day. None of it’s going to matter when you’re in your twenties. So don’t sweat it if you say or do something stupid in front of someone you like, or if you get caught listening to polka music. It’s not going to matter once your life really starts.
  9. Dream as if you’ll live forever, live as if you’ll die tomorrow. I’m not saying to go out and do whatever you want just because. I’m saying you should never assume you have a tomorrow, because you never know when today will be your last day. However, don’t just sit around doing nothing and thinking there’s no point to life since you’re gonna die in the end anyway. Have dreams. Try to reach those dreams. Do something with your life.
  10. Be remembered for something great. If you want to leave a lasting impression on your old teachers, friends, and even strangers, don’t let it be something stupid, like ‘the kid who always cut class’ or ‘that one guy who always broke commitments’. Let it be something like ‘that girl who smiled at everyone’ or ‘that guy who always helped those who needed it’.

Just remember those ten things. I’m sure there’s more, but this is a good start. I hope this helped someone.

10 ‘Christian’ Sins

Lots of people think that Christians are hypocrites. I covered this in a previous entry and won’t be covering it in this one. Here’s what I WILL cover: The sins we commit as Christians that we try to justify and deny the sinful nature of. These are 10 ‘Christian’ Sins. Please note that I’m guilty of all of these.

  1. Worry. Jesus himself said in Matthew 6 not to worry about tomorrow. Yet we do it every day. But we don’t just worry about tomorrow–we worry about yesterday as well. We wonder if we shouldn’t have eaten that second piece of cake. We worry if it’s going to come back and bite us in the form of obesity later. Worry is a part of life that isn’t going to go away without prayer.
  2. Anger/Holding grudges. Yes, people are going to upset you. You’re going to be angry with them. But there comes a time when you need to get over it. It feels like a weight is lifted off your shoulders when you let go of it. Another issue is when you’re so angry you wish they were dead. That’s murder in God’s eyes.
  3. Gossip. Christians don’t always directly gossip (though we do that too). However, we will gossip in the form of ‘prayer requests’. Pray for Sally. She’s pregnant and doesn’t know who the father is. Pray for Evan as he gets through rehab and breaks his drug addiction. This is going to be a bitter pill to swallow–that’s gossip too.
  4. Gluttony. Sure, everyone’s gotta eat, some people more than others (*cough* teen boys *cough*). But it’s when you’re overeating that it becomes a problem. If you’ve ever eaten a whole bag of chips or Hershey’s Kisses in a couple days all by yourself, you’re guilty of this whether you want to admit it or not.
  5. Idolatry. Anything can become an idol if you’re denying your responsibilities for it. Spending time on Facebook while you’re supposed to be doing the dishes? Congratulations, you have now made an idol out of Facebook.
  6. Jealousy. The Tenth Commandment warns us not to covet (read: be jealous). Even a small thing can count as coveting. And it’s really hard not to be jealous.
  7. Adultery/Cheating. I don’t think any Christian will deny that cheating on your partner is wrong. But they might have different definitions of cheating. Even entertaining the thought of having sex with someone else is cheating. Jesus said in Matthew 5 that even looking with lust means you’ve committed adultery in your heart. And as for if you’re not married…it’s going to be even harder to resist that urge.
  8. Unwholesome talk. This can include making promises that you can’t keep or saying anything that could tarnish your witness. Cursing isn’t necessarily a sin, but it can make you seem like a bad witness for Christ. Making a promise and not keeping it is also a good way of losing credibility and it can even reflect badly on God if the person isn’t a Christian.
  9. Laziness. The Bible has a lot to say about laziness. SPOILER: It’s frowned upon. Proverbs has several verses, for example, all over the book. 2 Thessalonians 3:10 goes so far as to say that if you don’t work, you don’t eat. But we’re all lazy at some point. It’s just in our nature.
  10. Judging others. Once you’ve started this one, it’s very, very hard to get away from it. You’ll find yourself judging everyone and not being able to stop. It’s not a good cycle to get into.

So, what can we do to stop the cycle of sin? First off, we’re human. We’re going to sin. But that doesn’t make it okay. And it’s not okay to justify what we know in our heart is wrong. It’ll take a lot of prayer and time, but eventually you can break the cycle and stop making the same mistakes. Having an accountability partner helps. Find one and get to work.

From Blacksburg to Boston–what we can learn from April’s tragedies

The first full month of spring should be a happy time–after all, it’s warm, but not too warm. Flowers are blooming. You’ve got Easter, which usually falls sometime in April and is a very happy day.

But, like everything else, something has to go and rain on your parade. In this case, there’s several things.

On April 19, 1995, Timothy McVeigh bombed a federal building in Oklahoma City, killing 168 people. So far, this is the biggest act of domestic terrorism in US history.
On April 24, 1995, Ted Kaczynski (aka the Unabomber) plants his final bomb in Sacramento, killing one person. He had planted 15 previously and killed a total of 3 people.
On April 20, 1999, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold went on a shooting rampage at Columbine High School in Littleton Colorado, killing 13 before turning their guns on themselves. They planned on killing more, but their bombs failed to detonate. As of now, this is the deadliest high school shooting in US history.
On April 16, 2007, Seung-Hui Cho shot and killed 32 people at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg Virginia before killing himself. This remains the deadliest school shooting in US history.
On April 15, 2013, brothers Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev placed and detonated bombs near the finish line of the Boston Marathon. They killed 3 people.

And those are just the major, well-known ones.

I’m finding myself at a loss for words to describe where I’m going with this. There are so many what-ifs to consider. What if someone had caught on to Eric and Dylan’s plan sooner? There were plenty of opportunities. What if Seung-Hui had never gotten his hands on the guns he used (and he shouldn’t have)?

But the what-ifs aren’t going to get us anywhere.

Instead, we need to think about what we’ve learned. As horrible and tragic as these events were, we can never, EVER let ourselves forget them. Because the minute we do, it’ll happen again. And again. And again. And it’s just getting worse–remember, both the Virginia Tech and Sandy Hook massacres took place after Columbine, and Columbine was the shooting that got us to finally stand up and do something.

It’s easy to say that we’ll never forget, but it’s another to actually remember. People said we’d never forget Pearl Harbor, but I’d almost bet that more young Americans than not don’t know when Pearl Harbor Day is. How are we expected to remember something on less of a grand scale? I say we learn about it in school. Maybe not elementary school, but definitely high school. Textbooks can be our best friend if we let them. In this case, they should be. We can’t afford to forget any of these things. We can’t afford to forget the Oklahoma City bombing, or the next bomb could take 200 lives. We can’t afford to forget Columbine or Virginia Tech, or the next shooting could take 50 lives.

What else can we learn? Everyone needs love. It doesn’t matter who you are, you need love, and you deserve it. Love can make the bad things good. So, smile at anyone you see on the street. If you see someone drop something, pick it up for them. Help out in any way you can. Who knows? Maybe you’ll save a life or more. You can make a difference, and you can be important. No, you ARE important, just how you are. Now pass that knowledge on. Everyone is important. You don’t need to bomb a building or shoot up a school to be important to the world. At least, you shouldn’t. Now is the time to make sure people know that.

This video was helpful to me while I was drafting this post.