Eighteen years ago, Michael Carneal came to my high school with two shotguns, two .22 rifles wrapped and a loaded pistol in his backpack. He then used the pistol to shoot and kill three of my classmates and injure five more.
When I think back to that day, I feel an immense amount of sadness. When I think of every day since that day, I feel an immense amount of rage.
Since December 1, 1997, 331 people have died in a mass shooting in the United States.
That's defining a mass shooting as the murder of more than four people - which wouldn't even have included Heath.
If you expand that definition to every life lost by an act of gun violence be it murder, suicide, accidental deaths, police intervention, or where the intent is unknown that number balloons to 31,537 people .... YEAR.
That means in the 18 years since my life was changed by gun violence 567,000 people have lost their lives and millions more have been forever changed.
Over 50,000 of those who lost their lives were children.
HALF A MILLION PEOPLE. 50,000 kids.
Those numbers are overwhelming. The violence is overwhelming. But we have to stop being overwhelmed.
We tiptoe around gun control. We argue that common sense gun control is all we need to make a difference and - believe me - I'm not arguing against the criminalization of assault weapons or closing the gun show loophole or even better mental health screening.
But the fact remains that the mentally ill are more likely to be victims of violence than perpetrators and making changes at the margins is not going to put a dent in our country's gun problem.
Our problem is WE HAVE TOO MANY GUNS.
Somewhere along the way we have decided as a society that a person has the right to own as many guns as they want and, as a result, people have died.
Now, if you believe that the loss of life is worth it. Fine. Then, let's have that debate, but I'm done pretending that 30,000 lives a year is the cost of being an American. I'm done pretending that more guns make us safer. I'm done pretending that one person's right to bear as many and whatever arms they want is more important than my right to the same level of safety enjoyed by people in other countries.
I'm done feeling my stomach drop when I hear of another damn shooting. I'm done with the prayers and the candles and the vigils.
I just want to scream, "If you cared what happened to me and my classmates 18 years ago, THEN WHY HAVEN'T YOU DONE ANYTHING TO KEEP IT FROM HAPPENENING AGAIN!!!"
I want gun licensing. I want a gun registry. I want a mandatory gun buyback program that takes 20% of the guns off the street and destroys them.
I want big solutions that speak to the enormity of the suffering inflicted by gun violence.
And every year another December 1st rolls around and I look back on another year filled with shootings and death the madder I get.