OPINION: Change in gun laws has surpassed being a necessity

Illustration by Sydney Smith

Mass shootings are so common in America that it no longer comes as a shock to hear about them occurring. These shootings happen anywhere and everywhere, in churches, grocery stores, neighborhoods and especially in schools.

Mass shootings are defined by an incident where four or more people have been injured or killed. As of mid-April, there have been over 160 mass shootings in the United States this year alone.

Although mass shootings have been happening for many years in the U.S., they have risen in frequency. 

Since 2018, the annual number of mass shootings in America has risen exponentially from 336 that year to 417 in 2019, 610 in 2020, 690 in 2021, and 647 in 2022.

Along with this, U.S. gun sales reached a record 23 million in 2020 which is a 65% increase from 2019 and remained high in 2021.

Just recently there have even been incidents of young people being shot for small mistakes such as pulling into the wrong driveway or rolling a basketball into the wrong yard. 

In 2020, firearm related injuries surpassed motor vehicle crashes as the leading cause of death for children in America.

There have been 158 school shootings since 2018

Education Week tracked 51 school shootings with injuries or deaths in 2022, making it the highest they’ve seen since they began tracking in 2018.

The need for stricter gun laws has far surpassed being a necessity. If something doesn’t radically change, children and other American citizens will continue to be murdered daily.

It’s extremely frustrating to see that I was protesting for the same changes while in high school, and over four years later, not only has nothing changed, it has somehow gotten worse.  

According to Pew Research, Americans are divided over whether restricting legal gun ownership would lead to fewer mass shootings. 

In a poll conducted in spring 2021, 49% of adults say there would be fewer mass shootings if it was harder for people to obtain guns legally, while 42% say this would make no difference and 9% say that there would be more mass shootings.

Illustration of a barricaded classroom by Sydney Smith

In the summary of findings from a study done by the National Library of Medicine, results showed that states with higher levels of firearm ownership have an increased risk for violent crimes perpetrated with a firearm

After the mass shooting in Uvalde, Texas, that killed 19 elementary school children, two teachers and injured many more, the response wasn’t to have reform, but rather to arm teachers and build safer schools as a way to prevent this from happening again.

Adding more guns does not stop crime. 

In a ranking done by Everytown Research comparing the scores of  every state on the strength of its gun laws and comparing it with its rate of gun violence, it is clear that states with weaker gun safety policies have higher rates of gun violence

California, ranked number one, has a gun violence rate of nine, while Mississippi, who ranked last, has a gun violence rate of 33.9.

With so much evidence making the case that stronger gun restrictions lead to less gun violence, it’s defeating and disappointing to see that there continues to be no reform to crack down on such an alarming issue — especially when looking at other countries who took action immediately, such as Australia. 

Less than two weeks after the Port Arthur, Tasmania, mass shooting in 1996 that resulted in 35 people dying, Australia’s then prime minister, John Howard, announced a stack of gun reforms. 

He proposed that each state and territory introduce and enforce a registration system which required people to have a “genuine reason” for having a firearm. These reasons could be along the lines of sport or target shooting, recreational hunting or farming.

Howard also introduced a national gun buyback policy for all weapons that did not comply, which led to buying and melting down more than 650,000 firearms for $350 million.

Since this incident, Australia has only had two mass shootings, and only one was in a public setting. 

Many Americans live in fear that they may be shot someday while just living out their lives, or fear that their children may not return home safely from school. 

It’s difficult to not have that fear knowing that every day 120 Americans are killed with guns and more than 200 are shot and wounded. 

Mass shootings have become too normalized, and many have been desensitized to hearing about it, so unfortunately it can be easy to push it to the side. 

Despite this, there needs to be a continuous push to reform and have stricter gun laws if there is to be a hopeful future for the youth of America. 

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