Campus Life Editor
This article was published prior to the multitude of mass shootings that occurred after April 15, leading to an increase in many of the statistics cited.
As you read this, there have already been approximately 140 mass shootings in the U.S. in 2021, resulting in 167 dead and 544 injured. In April alone, there have been 14 mass shootings. These numbers, although incredibly disturbing and haunting, account only for mass shootings, a shooting in which four or more people are shot or killed. In looking at the number of deaths and injuries from all forms of gun violence, there have been over 4,970 deaths in just under three months. The numbers are shocking, almost incomprehensible, yet we as a nation continue to hold onto a “right” that has claimed so many lives.
For a year now, the COVID-19 pandemic has dominated the news, taking center stage as the most pertinent public health crisis in the USA. However, another public health crisis is reaching record fatality numbers, and has been largely absent from our everyday news media.
Gun violence in the U.S. is, without a doubt, one of the most dangerous public health crises of our time. It is a threat that has turned common public spaces, such as schools and grocery stores, into warzones, and a threat that has only exponentially increased each year. Although much of the U.S. was under a lockdown during 2020, gun violence reached a record high, claiming over 19,000 lives, the highest in over 20 years.
The U.S. has more guns per person than any other country in the world, and we also have the least strict laws regarding firearms, compared to any other country with similar gun ownership. Shockingly enough, this is not my first article addressing gun violence in the USA. In fact, in 2018, following the Parkland shooting, which left 17 people dead, I wrote about the sheer power and force of the weapon responsible for 24 of the 26 deadliest mass shootings in U.S. history — the AR-15. I wrote about the history of the weapon and its obscene capacity to kill en masse.
In summary, I found that the AR-15 was designed to perform one job, to kill and maim as many people as possible in the shortest amount of time. The weapon, designed exclusively for war, is exceedingly successful in its job. Yet, any average American citizen can purchase one for around the same price as a Macbook and (federally) in a little under three days, once the FBI has processed their background check. It’s shamefully easy to purchase a weapon capable of killing scores of people with the flick of a finger.
It is an absolute necessity that the U.S. take swift and decisive action to curb the epidemic of gun violence. We as Americans have been so extremely desensitized to gun violence that reports of mass shootings have become commonplace in our daily lives. We see a report of another shooting, claiming more lives, and yet we continue to do the same things we did before. Gun violence has become an object of American life, an occurrence that is just part of living in the USA.
I cannot even begin to describe the perverted and twisted logic that accompanies the idea that gun violence is just a symptom of being an American. No other nation in the world experiences the sheer amount of death and destruction from gun violence than the USA. The American infatuation with guns is as ingrained into the culture of the U.S. as our love for football. Children around the nation are exposed to guns and firearms from extremely early ages, and, as a society, we have embraced guns as a cultural object as Americans. However, this twisted love for guns will only continue to lead to more death and destruction. In addition to the need for sweeping gun control and reform, the U.S. must undergo a culture change in regards to guns. If not, the deaths will only continue to increase. Take, for example, the death of a high school student in Knoxville, Tenn. on April 12; we can’t let our children die for the sanctity of the second amendment.
It’s taxing to write about gun violence and gun control because it appears that the U.S. is not open to discussing real tangible gun control and reform. Although President Biden recently unveiled his plan for an executive order, which aimed to create wider restrictions for guns — which is a step in the right direction in decreasing gun violence — the problem still remains blatantly clear. The fact that the AR-15 remained on the market following the atrocity that was the Sandy Hook shooting, which killed 20 children, all under the age of eight years old, was possibly the most telling truth surrounding gun control in the USA. Lawmakers and the NRA would rather continue to sacrifice the children of the nation in order to protect gun ownership in the USA.
Featured Image: Sage Amdahl / Quaker Campus