Student Speak: Recent influx of shootings is a symptom of a greater illness


Jane Holmes

Student takes a moment from class to recollect themself

Gianna Galesi, Features Editor

Perhaps the most alarming statistic of 2023 is the fact that at least 163 mass shootings have occured in the United States—that is more mass shootings than the number of days this year so far. In the first 17 days of April alone, the U.S. endured an upwards of 30 shootings according to the Gun Violence Archive.

School shootings seem to be one of the most prominent and gruesome acts of gun violence in recent years. It should be particularly alarming that shooters continue to find access within the walls of such institutions. Shooters infringe upon the safety of the youth, as children are no longer able to learn and grow comfortably without the feeling of risking their lives.

Equally, while sending their kids off to school, parents are forced to grapple with the possibility that their children will never return home. This grim thought is not one of disillusionment; guns are the leading cause of death for American children and teens, which surpassed car-related accidents in 2020.

As the year of 2020 gave rise to a global pandemic, it also cultivated a ruthless epidemic of gun violence, as the 2021-2022 school year was met with nearly quadruple the average number of fatal firearm incidents from 2013. Many attributed the surge in mass shootings to the pandemic itself, a result of social isolation, economic distress, and general heightened anxieties. Yet the question then arises that although the pandemic has since dissipated, why do issues of gun violence persist?

Florida just recently became the 26th state to enact permitless carry, allowing any individual to carry a concealed weapon without a permit or license. The problem does not necessarily rest in the fact that gun possession is allowed in states—in fact, the concerns that some weapon carriers have for their own and their family’s safety can be justified, particularly in times of such brutality. Even if there are a major handful of responsible gun owners, however, they do not counteract or diminish the detrimental effects of those with less decent intentions.

The true issue is the fact that state governments warrant unmonitored possession, that anyone can simply walk the streets—or into a school—firing a gun without proper training on how to properly control it. A weapon grants the individual significant power, in it resting the lives of innocent civilians, as well as the owner themselves. This power is too often abused. The incidents of 2023 alone are truly the only evidence needed to justify the fact that the U.S. has reached an inevitable point that demands action. Firearm incidents have become a daily occurance. As current laws fail the most vulnerable, the safety of both our children and democracy are in jeopardy.

The government must be more mindful of who guns are being handed to. Of course, it is not this simple: there are alternatives to acquiring a weapon, often in illegal markets. Therefore, eliminating access to authorized gun ownership could create an influx of crimes for the sake of a weapon. While the path to a safer future is not effortless, governments should truly turn to a law that could better supervise gun owners, particularly if it means preventing unwarranted mortalities.

Increasing security in schools is certainly a step toward bettering the safety of schools, which seem to be one of the most vulnerable environments for firearm incidents. However, the governments should also seek to address the recent surge in gun violence at its root. Insufficient safety measures in schools is not the true problem; it is rather the one behind the gun.

Current American children are being raised in a world of fear—afraid to go to school, afraid to walk the streets alone. Now more than ever, it is the responsibility of the government to nurture the future generation, who will one day run this country. Rather than continuing to dig them a hole that they will later struggle to amend, current leaders must act now, to guarantee children at least a glimpse into a brighter future.