Gun violence in the US: A problem on the rise



Over 1000 body bags in front of the National Hall, D.C. in addressing the deaths from guns since the Parkland shooting.

When other countries think about what America stands for, the first things that come to mind are probably hamburgers, bald eagles, the American flag, and our overwhelming amount of patriotism. Or, they might think of Americans waving guns around as our country has an unhealthy obsession with deadly weapons and that we refuse to fix the problems centered around guns. They may also think about how much freedom, liberty, and justice are embedded in our culture and ideology of what the best country should be like. However, more and more American citizens are doubting that the United States is truly about liberty and justice for all.
The United States government has let down its citizens for decades now. They have ignored our pleas for help and support to allow us to live without constant fear. Now, more specifically, they have been letting down their students – children. They refuse to listen to what the majority of Americans want: security, not fearing for our lives every single second of every day, to be able to finally breathe without chance of being shot. And yet, our government doesn’t believe we deserve such trivial things.
Especially since so many state’s senators are supported by the NRA (National Rifle Association), a gun rights advocacy group that has been preventing assault weapons bans and gun laws. Since the 2020 elections, the NRA has donated millions of dollars (“Which Senators Have Benefitted the Most from NRA Money?”) to politicians – the top five states having thousands of civilian deaths due to guns every year.
For example, Florida Senator Marco Rubio has received a whopping $3.3 million from the NRA even though Florida has an estimate of 2,449 of gun deaths per year. Why would they accept money from an organization that prevents laws that would decrease the deaths of their citizens? The only excuse would be that all they want is money and they clearly have no consideration for the people (given all of the laws they make hurting their citizens), so why not do it while gaining millions of dollars?
As I am writing this (12 May 2023), there have already been 213 mass shootings this year in the United States, according to the Gun Violence Archive. That is more shootings than the days so far into 2023, 172 shootings compared to less than 150 days. Not to mention that since the shooting in Nashville, Tennessee, there have been 17 school shootings alone within the first 13 weeks of 2023. But why are there so many shootings? What could possibly cause the absurd number of gun attacks that cause death, pain, and trauma to United States citizens?
America is no stranger to firearms. After all, the right to bear arms is written into the constitution. The ability to carry a gun is apparently a human right in America, unlike the ability to choose what to do with your body and access to food, water, and shelter.
Ever since the 1999 Columbine high school shooting, little has been done to prevent more disasters and adolescent death. After Columbine came the 2007 Virginia Tech shooting with 33 deaths, and then the devastating 2012 Sandy Hook elementary shooting, which resulted in 28 deaths. 20 children under the age of eight and six staff members were fatally shot. There have been plenty more deadly shootings since those years, one of the more recent ones being the Uvalde shooting that happened in 2022 where there were over 40 casualties.
I also can’t neglect to mention the amount of non-school mass shootings: the Las Vegas shooting in 2017 that killed 60 people, the 2016 Orlando Nightclub in which 50 fatalities occurred, the Sutherland shooting, and so many more have taken place on U.S soil. From then until now, there has been barely any action taken towards gun violence in our government, who care more about inanimate objects than living, breathing, thinking human beings.
Over the years, multiple laws have been rejected that would have helped with the mitigation of gun violence. Instead, more laws have been passed in favor of cracking down on advocates against gun violence. Over Barack Obama’s term, he attempted to pass a bill that would require licensed gun dealers to do extensive background checks before selling to the individual. However it was denied, even while nine out of ten Americans are in favor of the policy.
More recently, U.S. Senator Chris Murphy reintroduced the “Background Check Expansion Act” in order to expand federal background checks to all gun sales, and while it hasn’t been accepted, it also has not been denied – which gives us a bit of hope.
Despite the more deadly shootings such as Columbine happening over two decades ago, the survivors will forever live with that trauma. A series of interviews were posted by Rocky Mountain PBS where they talk to Columbine victims almost 20 years later and discuss the issues they still suffer from. One survivor, Corrie Whitfield, talks about how it doesn’t bother her as much any more, but how it’s caused concern for her own daughter in school now that she is the age Whitfield was when the shooting happened.
Another survivor is Craig Scott, who witnessed the perpetrator kill his classmates and also lost his own sister. Scott has traveled around the country speaking about the tragedy, what he went through and saw, and the people he lost, spreading awareness for the pain and trauma tragedies like that cause.
Another thing to consider is how guns are treated in different countries in comparison to the United States. In Australia, for example, it is illegal to carry around a gun and to even get a gun license, a person must have a genuine reason. The reason why Australia now has such strict gun laws is because in 1996, there was a massacre in Tasmania where 35 people died. In response, the government decided that civilians did not need any access to semi-automatic guns and shotguns. Since then gun related homicides have rapidly decreased.
If the Australian government can recognize that civilians have no need for assault weapons, why can’t America’s? We have had more and more deadly shootings, and yet no major laws have been made in response. There should be no excuse for our government to be less worried about this than banning books, how people feel about themselves, and if TikTok uses Wi-Fi or not. We, the students, need to convince our government about something they should already understand: that we are people that deserve freedom and life.