Mass shootings are becoming more and more frequent in our day-to-day lives. A mass shooting, though there hasn’t been an agreed-upon definition created yet, is when three or more people are shot or killed in a single incident, according to The Gun Violence Archive.
Nowadays, even the places where we feel the safest are at risk of being shot up. In 2022 alone, there have been over 300 mass shootings across the country, and for what? Why must we live in fear because there are people in this world who have so much built-in hatred within them that they take it out on other people? Not to mention innocent people who have done nothing wrong. How sick do you have to be to wake up one morning and decide that today is the day you take someone’s life? How heartless and wicked do you have to be to find joy in killing others? If there’s one thing I’ll never understand about mass shooters, it’s how someone could have so much profoundly rooted anger and choose to release it through harming others. Most of the time, they kill to exact revenge on those who hurt them, transmit their pain to others, release their temper, or sometimes ignite a race war. But none of those reasons are valid reasons to kill someone, and they will NEVER be.
In America, it’s unfortunate to admit that, for the most part, we’ve gotten used to dealing with mass shootings because of how often they happen, which should NOT be the case for anyone anywhere. It’s awful that these days when you talk about shootings, there are people who will ask, “Which one?” because it indeed shows how “normalized” they’ve become; it’s like they’ve become as regular in America as putting ice in our drinks, and that’s terrible. Time and time again, we are heartbroken by the news that yet another mass shooting has occurred, and frankly, I’m sick of it. We may not be able to stop mass shootings entirely, but we can certainly try to prevent them, and the first step to doing so, as hard as this may be for some, is to enforce sensible gun laws. For too long, gun laws in our country have made it so openly accessible to anyone and everyone to purchase a gun without a rigorous background check. I mean, before 2013, to become a gun owner, you needed to have a Chicago Firearm Permit, but now, anyone could honestly carry around concealed firearms without a permit, and I know for a fact that’s the reason why mass shooters can get away with entering facilities with their guns hidden. The idea that an 18-year-old can just walk into a store and buy numerous assault weapons without being questioned baffles me, but that’s how it is today. Sometimes, I wonder, had we had sensible gun laws from the start, would all these mass shootings occur as frequently as they do? According to USA Today, mass shooters typically obtain their guns legally. So, if we diminish easy access to dangerous weapons and tighten our gun laws, mass shooting rates would decline because the shooters would have more difficulty obtaining a gun to commit their devious acts. Plus, gun sellers must do a deep background search before any customer can purchase a weapon. We wouldn’t want someone known to act violently towards their partner, family, etc., to somehow get their hands on something as deadly and dangerous as a gun because Lord knows what they would do with it if they ever had a rage.
Something else we need to do is expand access to high-quality, incredibly helpful, social, emotional, and mental health supports that address the impact of trauma and how to cope with it healthily. Too often, gun violence is blamed on mental illness when most people who carry out mass shootings do not have diagnosed mental illnesses. Trauma can have detrimental effects on learning, health, and especially behavior throughout the years of one’s life. Because of that, trauma can negatively influence people to kill as a coping mechanism. If we make an effort to create resources to assess and connect people with a high risk of hurting themselves or others to social, emotional, and mental health supports and services, we can get them that much-needed help they require. By doing so, we may be able to prevent them from making irrational decisions that could later resort to the death of many.
Last but not least, to prevent mass shootings, we need to have a system in place that allows the court to revoke an individual who is at high risk of harm and has access to dangerous weapons of their guns for a defined time. This system, if done correctly, would not just prevent the recurrence of mass shootings but could drop the rates of gun violence altogether because future shooters usually show unmistakable signs of intent to harm others. For example, according to science.org, two mass shootings did not happen in California because the shooters made “jokes” about their plans. The people around them took those jokes seriously and told an adult to be safe, so by paying attention to things like this, taking them seriously, and reporting them to an adult, we can stop the plans of future shooters and save more lives. I also want to heavily encourage students who hear their peers sarcastically or seriously making jokes regarding shooting up the school to tell an adult immediately. We all know about the Parkland school shooting on February 14, 2018, and how 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz, an ex-student who had been expelled, killed 17 and injured 16 others. However, most of us don’t know that Nikolas had an alarming social media presence that went as far as him sharing pictures of animals he had shot and making “jokes” about the amount of damage a gun could do. He openly made these jokes and shared these pictures with everyone around him, including his friends, his peers, and even random kids he saw in the hallway. Scenarios like this are why I can’t stress the importance of speaking out when you hear people making jokes like this enough because if more people did this, we could save more lives and prevent more shootings.
Mass shootings are nothing to take lightly. They’ve resulted in the loss of hundreds and hundreds of innocent people who probably didn’t wake up expecting it to be their last day. Though there is no natural way to end mass shootings, we need to find ways to create changes in our society to prevent them from occurring. Whether that’s by implementing better gun laws, speaking out when we hear news regarding someone who possibly has an intent to harm others, especially when it comes to high school students, or creating a system that allows the judge to confiscate an individual of their weapons, we need to be the change we so badly desire to make and to do so, we must begin putting specific ideas or systems in place to prevent the deaths of more people down the road.
Ewuraesi Korankye – Francis W. Parker School – DMSF Class of 2026
Image by Jose Alonso by Unsplash