Robin Utah

Safety Dance

The fact of the matter is, teens and children do not feel safe in the USA.

Dear Mr./Madam President,

I am terrified. I am terrified to walk down the street, to go into movie theatres, to be in an elevator with strangers, and I am terrified to go into my school every single day. The fact is, as of December 23rd of 2015, a total of 12,942 people were killed by a gun, not to mention the thousands of injuries that occurred from guns that did not lead to death. Of course, being the President of the United States, this probably is a statistic that you know pretty well. However, as a teenage girl who lives in this country, I wanted to let you know that it is a resounding fear that fills my thoughts daily. I think about my little sister, walking into her school, and I can’t help but wonder if she’ll be able to come back out. Of course, you can say that I’m paranoid. Of course, you can say that people in the US die from lots of different things-- cancer, car accidents, or even murder by other weapons than guns.

But the statistics are clear: I am more likely to die from a gunshot or a firearm weapon than any other leading causes.

This nation needs to protect its citizens. This nation needs to protect its citizens by obvious weapons within our country, not by people who “look suspicious” or who make their own lifestyle choices. I shouldn’t be afraid to go into public when I know that someone could shoot me at any time--that a suspected terrorist could shoot me at any second. I agree that people should have the right to bear arms--but not when their only purpose is to kill other human beings. An AK-47 should not be owned by someone who cannot pass certain exams, and a rifle should not be owned by someone who does not have the mental capacity to use it safely.

But it’s not only gun laws that frighten me, oh no. I am terrified that if I wear the wrong clothing, I’ll be sexually harassed or even assaulted. Potentially by gunpoint. What can you do to start telling the people of this country that these are acts of violence? What can you do to make me feel that I am just as welcome into college as any man? Men, of course, are subject to sexual assault and harassment as well.

The subject matter is, that I am a middle class, law abiding, American and I am scared to walk down the street by myself. I am afraid to go into public places, and even receive an education. And I am not the only person who feels this way--there are thousands of teenage girls who are afraid of upsetting the status quo. We want to get attention for our bodies and our looks, but that doesn’t give someone else the right to assault us. I am a middle class, law abiding citizen, who is terrified that my mother could be shot or raped in her workplace at any time. And even if she survived that gunshot or rape, her life would never be the same. She would never recover. And neither would I.

You can say that these are fears that I just have to live with--that men wanting to sexually assault me is just “locker room talk” or that violence can stop violence, but the fact is: I am terrified. And I am not alone.

Help me.