One year ago I wrote an article about a student who was carrying a firearm in his backpack when it went off near the campus Taco Bell. By sheer luck the bullet didn’t hit anyone in the crowded hallway. On a more somber note, the University of Utah was recently in the news after an international student was killed by a shooter, resulting in an overnight manhunt. But that seemingly small incident coupled with the atrocities of another school shooting in Florida is more than enough to warrant a deeper look into how guns are handled in Utah and on college campuses.

        While Utah schools have been lucky to avoid mass shootings so far, that is no reason to sit by idly while high schools, junior highs and elementary schools become places of terror. My gut still clenches when I think about the 20 first graders killed at Sandy Hook, and that was six years ago. Nothing has changed. Prayers aren’t working and words of comfort are only valuable after tragedy has struck. We have had enough talk. We have had enough of politicians patting our heads and telling us to spend our time mourning and “talk policy later.” But “later” is always a delaying tactic — it’s code for silencing, for spin, for the pockets of politicians to sag from the weight of NRA donations.

        Good people are dying while the endless cycle of meaningless words continues. But before you check out because I’m not pro-gun, know that this is an indictment of both sides. On the one hand, we have people calling for change. We have people who want regulation, who want new policies put in place to protect the population of youth trying to better their lives through education. To protect everyone who thinks it is ludicrous that in order to feel safe in this country you have to carry a gun around because someone else might also have a gun. On the other we have politicians telling everyone not to worry, that there is no reasonable solution to this problem, and by the way if there was one it certainly would not be regulating guns.

        It is time to get serious about the words. It is time to create action out of reaction; before a Utah school becomes the next news story. Donating to and getting involved with groups such as Utah Parents Against Gun Violence and the Gun Violence Prevention Center of Utah is an important step toward making your words actually count for something. If we want a safer environment in the United States, we have to move beyond prayers and social media posts. School shootings should not be America’s new normal. So take your thoughts and prayers and do something with them.