Shooting for a Solution

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Alaina Haylock

School shootings are a serious issue that has yet to be resolved (Photo courtesy of Alaina Haylock).

Schools across the nation have faced closure due to the coronavirus pandemic. Following this, March 2020 has become the first March to have no school shootings since 2002. This presents a bittersweet reality for Americans, especially students who could be subjected to such horrors. 

“I think we live in a culture where guns are seen as a way of life and a necessity which means more people have access to them than should, especially in the south. I also think that sometimes people don’t notice or try to help people who are showing signs of possibly becoming a shooter which obviously ends up terribly if they have a gun in the house they can easily access,” said junior Kylie Roach.

Gun ownership is a widely popular and accepted idea with 43% of U.S. adults living in a household with a gun. However, gun and ammo sales are on the rise. According to Ammo.com, an online firearm retailer, there was a 309% increase in revenue from February 23 to March 15 in 2020. With so many guns being purchased, the federal government had to conduct background checks. The FBI recorded 3.7 million background checks in March 2020, which is over one million more than March 2019.

“I think we need better background checks to make sure stable, healthy people are the only ones allowed to even try to buy a gun, and we need to enforce methods of making sure guns are locked up and kept safe in houses so the wrong people don’t have access to them,” said Roach.

The overall handling of background checks could be done better. Many people find ways to avoid getting background checks and the looseness of this can endanger more lives. When buying from gun shows, private dealers, or online websites, background checks aren’t needed in some states. 

“A combination of poor gun control and mentally unstable people cause school shootings,” said junior Jake Hester.

Looking outside of school shootings, 94 mass shootings have taken place since April 29th, 2020. From those shootings, 372 people were wounded with 106 deaths. In general, not many steps have been taken to deal with these deaths that repeat each year. 

“Places like Scotland and Scandinavia have almost zero shootings which is because guns are almost completely restricted. Of course, we can’t do that in the US because that would be impossible,” said Hester.

On the opposing side, many credit the second amendment as reasoning for private gun ownership. It is a constitutional right and many believe that banning guns would be unconstitutional. Additionally, gun ownership nearly doubled during the twentieth century and the murder rate decreased. Some Americans also view restrictions on guns as a violation of individual liberties.

“Due to the fact that a larger percentage of crime is done with illegal weapons, therefore, making it harder for the average person to get a gun is not going to affect the criminals at all. It would just be taking guns from those using them for defense against the ‘bad guys,’” said junior Jessyln Padilla. 

America is home to 46% of civilian-owned guns worldwide and the most mass shootings in the world. In 2016, guns contributed to the deaths of 38,658 people in the US. Of that, 22,938 were suicides, 14,415 were homicides, and the remaining were other incidents like unintentional deaths and war casualties. Over time, mass shootings are claiming more casualties with the shooting at a Las Vegas concert taking 58 lives as the deadliest in U.S. history. 

“School shootings used to lock down an entire county and make national news regardless of how many victims, now only the victims’ school closes and if it’s a low number of students who have been killed it’s only in national news for a day,” said Roach.

Over time, school shootings along with mass shootings have become more prevalent. Exposure to shootings has increased and created a new problem: desensitivity. More than ever, Americans are becoming accustomed to these events. When experiencing traumatic events, the brain tries to protect itself from such damage. In turn, it gets to a point where a person can be numb to the violence. 

“I remember the [shooting] in Connecticut years ago. First time I [had] heard of a school shooting. At the time, I thought it was horrible, and I still do. But, me and the rest of my family have accepted it as a cultural norm, and many other people probably do too,” said Hester. 

It is evident that more action should be taken for preventive measures for shootings in America. In comparison to other countries, the U.S. is failing to solve this problem that others have already eliminated. Citizens have the power to control what happens next when voting for government officials. Using the vote given to citizens is important for change to happen. However, what happens next can easily be said in the words of student Jake Hester.

“There can definitely be more done, but no matter what we do it will take time,” said Hester.