Many statistics about the frequency of mass shootings in America have circulated recently. The Gun Violence Archive reports 245 shootings in 2022. A shocking number when considering the year is only halfway through. Not to mention, that list keeps on growing. The Uvalde Robb Elementary School shooting, the Buffalo supermarket shooting. And even the Warren Clinic shooting in Tulsa on June 1st. They all tell the same sad story. America has become a place that values the rights of objects over the rights of humans.
In the wake of these events, many people have questioned if a change is possible.
It’s difficult to talk about the barrage of mass shootings without getting into how they occurred in the first place. Dangerous ideology. Unbridled access to guns. The creation of online groups as perpetuated through mass media. A lack of mental health care. While these are all problems in their own right, they share one common trait. Every single one can be solved through policy.
Access to guns has only gotten easier. No matter one’s political affiliation, statistics show that the majority of Americans want stricter regulations on who can’t and can own a gun. Ideally, policies such as H.R. 8, which advocates for increased background checks, should pass easily. Yet, the reality isn’t that simple.
Ultimately, the populous opinions do not matter in passing legislation. Those in charge can do whatever they please. Even, in the words of Steve Kerr, “hold us all hostage,” as they refuse to act upon such horrific events. Even on a state level, lawmakers are divided on what to do about gun laws. Look at Oklahoma, an open-carry state whose Republicans and Democrats disagree on the severity of policy needed to prevent future tragedies.
Looking at the occurring progress, we can turn to New York. Where state lawmakers have pledged to raise the legal age to buy semi-automatic rifles from 18 to 21. And while this in no way will stop damages, it’s a start.
Evidence has shown that there are two great ways to prevent future shootings. One is to put gun purchasers through licensing processes. This means that someone who might want a gun has to go through fields such as law enforcement and the government. The second is to ban guns with large-capacity magazines. This includes guns such as semi-automatic rifles, those which should not be in the hands of regular civilians.
Still, the only action that can be done to even attempt to make up for it is to prevent anything else like it from happening again. But that’s what our lawmakers must do, what about what we should do?
These lives are not just statistics, they are people and stories. Their passing isn’t only a representation of our broken country but of children who will spend the rest of their lives traumatized in fear. Of families who will never stop mourning the passing of those they love. And of communities that will never be the same again.
When the press forgets that and treats each victim as a number, or a symptom of an issue, change will never happen. Sadly, individual people have to step in and organize themselves. Only due to a lacking system that only prioritizes the biggest headline, but it’s an action that we need to take.
As much as protests and writing officials can be helpful, many people wash their hands of further action afterward. It’s easy to commit to doing one thing and being done with it, all without processing what has happened. That’s why it is so important to talk about these issues with the humanity of those involved in mind. Don’t let society forget about what has happened these past few weeks.
Other actions, such as the one currently being pushed by the parents at Uvalde through filing a lawsuit, may take time and copious amounts of effort. But, it works to bring even more awareness to the public about how many lives are affected. And to benefit the victim’s family in any way possible.
As much as policy and the government can help to prevent these shootings, it is people who are killing elders, children, and community members. Limiting the ways they can do that, calling for action, and honoring the taken lives of countless individuals is a necessary start.