Sabika Sheikh: How a Pakistani Exchange Student Lost Her Life to Gun Violence

ByLavinia E. Smith

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In 2017, a 17-yr-outdated exchange college student — Sabika Sheikh — from Pakistan landed in Texas for the American substantial faculty encounter.

9 months later on, on the morning of Could 18, 2018, she posted a picture of an airplane on her social media, captioned ‘How a lot of times until finally June 5? Its 19 days’. She was scheduled to return residence 19 times later, with plenty of tales from the time she expended in your state.

That similar day, she was shot useless.

She was murdered with 9 people today within her artwork course at Santa Fe High University, thousands of miles absent from her household and her persons.

I am her cousin.

I was a Fulbright exchange scholar in The us then and returned with Sabika’s overall body to Pakistan. When I came back one last time for my last graduate yr, my only function was to get a gun safety monthly bill released in her identify in the United States Congress.

In 2019, ideal ahead of my last departure from your place, I stood inside the U.S. Capitol as that monthly bill was introduced.

HR 127, the Sabika Sheikh Firearm Licensing and Registration Act, prescribes a extensive licensing method for gun and ammunition ownership. It needs that a person ought to be at minimum 21 a long time old and undergo a prison history verify, psychological evaluation, and elaborate instruction on the safe and sound use and storage of guns in purchase to be accredited to have a firearm. It also prohibits the sale of specific huge-capability ammunition devices.

Wanting back again to that moment within the Capitol, I chuckle at my naiveté. I believed that your legislators would straight away arrive collectively to decisively reduce gun violence. It now baffles me how a selection — amongst residing and obtaining murdered, and involving the independence to come to feel secure and the chilling horror of listening to the very first gunshot at your school — can be so polarizing in your nation.

When a school was attacked by the Taliban in Pakistan on December 16, 2014, my nation arrived jointly. This integrated the public, civil culture, and politicians across social gathering lines. Our consensus as a culture was unanimous: Shielding young children at a put as sacred as university was not up for debate.

I have observed legislators in your nation fall short this examination of conscience once again and all over again. Do they not know that the moment another person you grew up with is massacred so mercilessly practically nothing can be restored?

I was the loved ones member who went to Texas to receive Sabika’s system and get it again to Pakistan. Every solitary emotion I felt through those people moments at the morgue when I seemed at her cold human body will endlessly be a haunting reminder of her brutal murder in your region. Do U.S. politicians not know that the memory of that horrifying instant never ever will become distant? That it in no way leaves? That it stares at you with its hollow eyes, carrying almost nothing but gloom and dread? Are they so incapable of sensation that they just can’t comprehend the overpowering melancholy I feel each time I text Sabika and wait around with a delusional hope that she will reply?