INDIANAPOLIS — Salsabil Qaddoura is tired of all the violence and lack of action.
“We only care when it affects us personally, but need to think of our interests as a nation. Not just us individually," Qaddoura said.
At only 15, the high school sophomore is an anti-gun activist in Indianapolis.
She started a Students Demand Action chapter in her high school after seeing the affects gun violence had on her classmates.
“We want to advocate for the change we wanna see when we’re older. This is the community we want to live in," Qaddoura said.
After the recent mass shooting at an elementary in Tennessee, she says these deaths are all too commonplace in our country.
“It’s a part of our society, you see it on social media, you see it on the news. It’s been normalized. It’s idolized. When people see gun violence now they take it as a joke. They take it lightly," Qaddoura said.
So far this year, about a dozen people under the age of 18 or younger were killed in Indianapolis.
“Seeing the number of young people involved in gun violence is just so troubling. The trauma and the aftermath of that is excruciating," Rebecca McCracken with Marion County Youth Violence Prevention Coalition said.
On Saturday, the coalition, along with other advocacy groups, hosted a community forum called Words Matter: Shifting the Dialogue About Gun Violence.
McCracken says it’s important to understand its roots.
“One of the predominant causes is poverty and racism. We have a system that’s baked in. When we’re in this situation where we have so many injustices and people feel hopeless, they sometimes respond with gun violence," McCracken said.
Last July, Indiana lawmakers passed a permitless carry law.
The state no longer requires a handgun permit to legally carry, conceal or transport a handgun.
McCracken says that’s causing a lot of harm to our city.
“I would love to see legislation that makes it harder to access firearms. People aren’t fundamentally different than they’ve been through all of our history but we just have easy access to firearms," McCracken said.
Qaddoura encourages other young people to step up and make the changes they’d like to see in their communities.
“Advocating for something you truly believe in is not cringey. It’s not wrong to advocate for something you believe in because you’re going to be voting soon. You’re going to be making all these differences and if you take the step up and you inspire others, then you can change a whole community," Qaddoura said.
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