Gun violence. If you’re in the United States, it’s difficult to see any news over the past two weeks that isn’t focusing on this issue. And it is super challenging to process the latest mass-casualty school shooting, which National Public Radio reports is the twenty-seventh school shooting this year.
In this week’s shooting, a recently turned 18 year old purchased two fire arms last week and then yesterday shot his own grandmother in the face before going on a rampage at his local elementary school. He killed at least two teachers and 19 students in one classroom before he was shot and killed by law enforcement.
Our hearts go out to everyone in Uvalde, Texas, where this happened.
Whole Champion Foundation echoes the questions shouted by politician Beto O’Rourke: ““Why are we letting this happen in this country? Why is this happening in this state? Year after year, city after city.” (If you missed our tribute to Moriah Wilson also killed by gun violence this month in Texas, you can read it here.)
The short answer is that the National Rifle Association, a potent pro-gun lobby organization, influences political decisions and laws in much of this country.
GUN VIOLENCE RESPONSE FROM SOME OFFICIALS
But elected officials in cities and states throughout are nation are looking into ways of changing that. For example, the New York Times reports that “Officials in New York City pledged Wednesday to explore ways to tighten security at city schools, where they have said 20 guns have been recovered during the current school year. David C. Banks, the Department of Education chancellor, said the city is considering non-invasive detection technology inside schools, and locking building doors after children have arrived for the day.”
New York Governor Kathy Hochul said that 18-year-olds, like those who are accused of the mass shootings in Uvalde and Buffalo (where a gunman opened fire inside a supermarket that killed ten people ten days earlier than the Texas shooting) should not be able to purchase guns. She want to raise the minimum age to purchase AR-15 style weapons to 21.
And within hours of the school massacre on Tuesday, the state of California responded with a barrage of legislation to stiffen controls on firearms, and would let private citizens sue those who make or sell outlawed ghost guns and assault-style weapons.
But in places like Texas, even after mass shootings and gun violence (of which the state has had eight incidents in the past 13 years), legislators there have repeatedly loosened gun laws, including removing the law requiring a permit to carry a firearm.
Gun violence is just one more thing in the United States to separate political parties and force people into fighting with each other instead of making them come together toward a purpose for the common good. Even though a Democrat and a Republican have authored bipartisan legislation to impose universal background checks on gun purchasers and close known loopholes.
But one wonders what effect that will have if it actually passes, since the latest shooter in Uvalde had no prior officially documented mental health issues or law enforcement troubles. And let’s be frank, it shouldn’t take something so awful and catastrophic to get people to work together to try and effect change.
So far this year in 2022, more than 17,000 Americans have died in gun violence. Almost 650 of those have been children age 17 or younger. USA Today reports that gunfire on school property is at an all-time high and that in 2020, firearms became the leading cause of death among children and teens in the United States.
Whole Champions care and take action to create positive change. The law enforcement officials and first responders and others who ran into Tuesday’s melee to save lives are champions as are the lawmakers who are determined to pass new legislation to keep gun violence and mass shootings from continuing in our country.
How many children and adults must die before things change? And people can go to school, the grocery store, and workplaces without fearing for their lives?