It’s disconcerting to believe that even after the 45 school shooting incidents we’ve had this year - with 23 of them resulting in the deaths of both children and teachers - a large majority of people still need to be convinced that gun laws are to blame and that changing those laws can bring a halt to the rising death tolls we’ve seen in schools. The implementation of stricter gun laws is essentially necessary in order to protect students at this point. Tighter gun control is a reasonable method to ensure parents across the country, that no, your child probably won’t become victim to a shooting at school today. I can understand the attachment some individuals hold with guns: to many, guns are associated with family tradition, with hunting, protection, a hobby, etc. I stop understanding when people use those excuses to advocate for keeping the flimsy gun laws we have in place in the United States. What reason do we have to keep them at the cost of teenagers and children? To help you understand what this cost exactly is, here are some statistics:
Since 2013, American students have experienced over 300 school shootings - averaging at about one shooting per week.
Seven children in the U.S. (19 and younger) die daily due to gun violence.
More American students have died in 2018 from gun violence than US soldiers in combat.
You know it’s a crazy world we live in when soldiers in combat have had a higher survival rate this year than did children going to school. 29 active soldiers have died in duty, compared to the 31+ students and teachers killed during school shootings. Soldiers go through a tremendous amount of training, all along understanding the risks they take going into combat. Isn’t it strange that children are now forced to understand and face those same risks when they put on their backpacks and head to school? When they wonder if they’ll make it home today, or wonder if today will be ‘the day’? How does America expect to protect its soldiers when they’re ignoring the cries of its youth at home?
Gun violence is not strange to anyone living in America. It has been advocated against in speeches, there have been rallies and marches urging for action, and it has been referenced in media platforms such as Donald Glover’s This Is America music video. The presence of gun violence is prevalent everywhere, seeing as three million American children are estimated to have been exposed to gun violence yearly.
President Donald Trump has shown a slight intent towards making the age requirement for possessing a gun from the 18 it currently is to 21. While no serious course of action has yet been implemented, changing the gun possession age may well be an effective solution, as the school shooting in which 17 people died that took place at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School was done by a 19 year-old. On the flip side, though, Trump also suggested the idea of arming school teachers with guns. At this point, it seems unclear as to how having more guns is anywhere close to the solution.
The actions Congress has taken so far indicate that guns are favored over the public’s safety. Congress has the power to authorize gun safety research, yet almost the exact opposite has been done. The Dickey Amendment was passed in 1996, restricting the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) ability to research gun violence as a public health concern or do anything of the sort that promoted gun control. Researching gun violence is imperative to fixing the problem in the first place. In 1994, the then director of CDC, Mark Rosenberg, said : “We need to revolutionize the way we look at guns, like what we did with cigarettes ... It used to be that smoking was a glamour symbol—cool, sexy, macho. Now it is dirty, deadly—and banned." While his statement regarding smoking isn’t necessarily true today, what Rosenberg is trying to convey about gun violence still holds true over 20 years later.
It’s not entirely shocking to hear that America needs to do better. The government’s basically blatant refusal to even consider the removal of assault rifles from public possession, to simply increase the age limit required to acquire a gun, or to remove laws allowing individuals to conceal guns on their bodies only continues to put our children and educators in danger. The longer we delay in taking action to effect tighter gun laws, the more families are broken up because they lost their children by sending them to what is supposed to be a safe place - a school. There are multiple routes available for us as a society to take in order to guarantee that schools stay a safe learning environment. However, we can see that through our communal lack of true action, America’s true values and colors are shown. America spits on the graves of the 41+ students killed this year in school shootings by remaining unbothered and unhurried in action.