The ‘unstoppable’ gun violence in America

How many kids have to die before you care?

This year has started like every other with gun deaths reaching peak levels only seen in the mid-1990s. Currently, the number of mass shootings in America outnumbers the days in the year. At the time of writing, there have been 39 mass shootings throughout the United States according to the Gun Violence Archive and only 27 days since we rang in the new year. Go America!

On Jan. 21, 11 people had their lives ended with nine more left injured at a Lunar New Year celebration when a gunman allowed his hatred for dance instructors to consume him, according to his neighbors in Pasadena Star-News. He attacked the Lunar New Year event then attempted to murder more people at another celebration, but was thankfully disarmed at the door by a new hero, Brandon Tsay.

The Monterey Park shooting only feels like a droplet of violence in the sea of blood spilled by gun violence. As recounted by neighbors, the gunman was obsessed with being well-liked in the dance studio and felt that no one truly liked him. Once again, someone who is clearly mentally unwell and has murderous intent manages to obtain a firearm and use it to murder people. I believe that in this state of constant violence, there are few arguments against implementing mental health evaluations as a continuous requirement for owning a firearm and ammunition.

On Jan. 6 a six-year-old boy decided to bring a handgun to Richneck Elementary School and shoot his first grade teacher Abigail Zwerner. The child brought the gun to school with malicious intent and showed it to one of his friends, threatening that he would shoot them if they told anyone. On the day of the shooting, three of Zwerner’s fellow teachers went to school administration about the student having a firearm in his backpack and all concerns were ignored. One administrator even instructed an employee to “wait the situation out because the school day was almost over,” according to Diane Toscano, Zwerner’s attorney.

Thankfully, this shooting has not ended in another death, but it raises many questions about gun legislation in America where teachers must fear their students making an attempt on their lives with no support from administration. Zwerner deserves to sue Newport News Public Schools and I hope she will never have to step foot in a classroom again under a system that failed to support her in the most basic ways.

Locally, we have Oklahoma lawmaker Jay Steagall advocating for the arming and licensing of teachers for concealed carry in the classroom. Steagall stated, “I wanted to make sure that I was making available all the tools that I had to help arm those that protect our kids even if they’re not on school grounds.” Steagall wishes to make a difference in Oklahoma schools by arming them for the next mass shooter to come through their doors. This initiative by Steagall not only makes schools a more dangerous place to be, as we can see in stories having access to firearms is not particularly associated with healthy living. I can only imagine the tense situations this would create in the classrooms as students would have cause for concern about a teacher snapping on them and their life abruptly ending because the instructor has had a bad day. Furthermore, this idea by Steagall ignores the root cause of America’s gun violence: people that are mentally unwell and cannot get the help they need are able to obtain firearms in this country.

Gun violence in America is an entirely solvable issue, and every year tens of thousands of Americans are killed by politicians’ fear of taking concrete action and general incompetence on the part of the government. The answer to gun violence is not more guns. Sweeping action across the country must be taken to invest in and improve the mental health of all Americans in every age group.

Post Author: Adam Porterie