Gun Control in the U.S.

By: Benji Boyd, Freshman

Introduction

Alongside abortion rights, gas prices, and infrastructure plans, gun control has become one of the main factors that will be deciding where Americans will cast their ballots this congressional midterm. As if the 345 active shooter events that occurred between 2000-2020, 45,222 Americans who died of incidents involving guns in 2020, and the average of roughly 53 Americans who are killed by a firearm everyday aren’t enough to convince us that we as a country need to do better, three new and highly publicized mass shootings have taken over the media and are bringing closer attention to what we’re doing wrong in regards to gun control in the U.S.

Buffalo, New York

On May 14th, 18 year old Peyton Gendron entered a supermarket in a predominantly Black community in Buffalo, New York, armed to the teeth and dressed in tactical gear. He shot 13 people in total, killing 10, before being apprehended by police. He has been charged with 10 counts of first degree murder, 10 counts of second degree murder as a hate crime, 3 counts of attempted murder as a hate crime, and a domestic terrorism charge. On top of this, he is charged with criminal possession of a weapon, because the gun he used was not legally obtained.

Gendron’s confessions during his arrest and previous documentation found in his possession leave no room for doubt that his goals were racially motivated. In a document he published online he self identifies as a fascist and a white supremacist, and reportedly chose the location for his attack due to the large Black population. Although 2 of his 13 victims were white, it is still clear that his goals were to target Black individuals and continue his rampage throughout the same neighborhood.

Uvalde, Texas

19 children and 2 adults were shot in Robb Elementary School, Uvalde, Texas, on May 24th, and 17 more were wounded. The gunman was Salvador Rolando Ramos, an 18 year old from the same town. Despite an extremely troubled background and possession of violent tendencies, Ramos was able to legally purchase a semiautomatic rifle and 375 rounds of ammunition in the days leading up to his attack.

As more details started to come out in the wake of this attack, it has been revealed that the gunman spent 1 hour and 20 minutes inside the school in total. Even more shockingly, new reports following the original police testimonies reveal that his rampage lasted around 40 minutes to an hour in between the firing of the first shot and when he was eventually gunned down by police, enabling him to kill more children in the meantime. Outrage over the local police’s handling of this situation, as well as the lack of gun control that allowed this unstable individual to get his hands on the murder weapon, has swept across the country and caused perhaps the biggest reaction Written by the students of Marblehead High School for our school and community 2021-2022 Issue www.mhsheadlight.com June 16, 2022 of the three incidents discussed in this article.

Tulsa, Oklahoma

On June 1st, 4 people were shot in a medical center in Tulsa, Oklahoma, including one surgeon who was the target of the attack. The perpetrator was 45 year old Michael Louis, who blamed the surgeon for his back pain in the wake of a procedure. He legally purchased an AR-15 style rifle earlier that afternoon, and entered the hospital, gunning down three people before finally locating his target.

Unlike the Uvalde incident, the police reaction time was extremely quick in this instance, and they arrived in minutes. Sadly, it still gave the shooter time to accomplish his goal, taking down everyone brave enough to get in his way. He then took his own life before the police could get to him.

What Now?

As previously mentioned, 45,222 Americans died of gun related incidents in 2020. Over 54% were suicides. Of the 19,384 homicides, 611 were due to legal intervention. These stats, along with pretty much any gun related data you can find, show that the U.S. is miles behind other countries when it comes to gun control. According to the Small Arms Survey of 2018, the U.S. has the highest average number of firearms compared to the population in the world, at 120.5 per 100 people, which is nearly twice the amount of the runner up, Yemen. In recent years, gun-hoarding among supporters of gun rights has risen due to the fear of a purchase ban, so this number has likely risen.

However, the percentage of the U.S. population that supports the sheer number of guns in circulation is very small. The divide between Americans who support stricter gun laws and those who prioritize protecting the rights of gun owners has grown to 70% to 29%, according to an ABC News/Ipsos poll taken after the shooting in Uvalde. Parents of school aged children especially are calling for change. Yet conservatives in Congress are extremely reluctant to defy the gun lobbyists and implement any restrictions.

The numbers show that states that require background checks for buying guns have much lower mass shooting rates. Red flag laws, which allow courts and law enforcement to seize firearms from individuals who pose a threat to themselves and others, are also a highly effective measure being implemented in some states. Assault rifle bans, a bullet tax, and higher age requirements for purchase are among the other suggestions for gun safety.

Hopefully, this will be the year when these ideas become a nationwide reality. But after what we’ve seen in these past weeks, Americans are starting to wonder: if this won’t cause us to change, what will?

MHS Headlight

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