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Don Lemon issued a poignant, emotionally stirring message that condemned gun violence on Wednesday following a deadly high school shooting tragedy that killed 17 people in Parkland, Florida. The day to talk about gun control was “weeks, months, years, or decades ago,” the CNN host said in response to the several mass shootings which have taken lives in recent months.

“This is a sickness that has infected the country, unchecked and unfettered gun violence,” Lemon passionately expressed to viewers in the video below. “Today, 17 lives are over. Seventeen families are torn apart. Parents who sent their kids to school this morning—imagine that, many people send their kids to school—just like they’ve done every other day for years. They trusted their kids would be safe.”

He continued, “Teachers went to work this morning, trusted they’d be safe in their space, in their work environment. The way we all should be safe in our work environments, every day, everywhere in our schools. Our churches, our offices at concerts, at nightclubs. Do you feel safe tonight?”

Lemon expressed how the crisis of gun violence hits close to home and to the heart.

“Every single one of us is just playing the odds at this point,” the host said. “The odds that, in a country of 325 million souls, that we won’t be the ones who get hit by the next bullets that start flying. We won’t be the one that gets that phone call about someone you love who did. Your son, your daughter, your brother, your sister, your spouse, or your parent, even a friend. Anyone you know. The phone call that changes your life.”

He added, “Is this really who we want to be? A country where anybody, at any time, could be shot to death. And then when a bunch of people are killed and lives are shattered, we are sad and maybe angry, and then we forget, and we move on, until the next time, with the tragedy remaining in the headlines for even a shorter time than it did before.”

The fight against gun violence is “about lives of all Americans,” Lemon also explained, adding that “we need to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people.”

Mental health must be made a “priority,” along with gun control, in the U.S., he said, ending with a call to action for the nation to be “better than this.”

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