With last weeks school shooting in Washington state it brings up a too familiar feeling that America is falling apart at the seams; if we can’t keep 14 year olds safe in school, how can we possibly keep civilians safe on the streets? It’s extremely sad that I have to write, “it was not that bad of a shooting, only three kids were killed,” but in modern day America it is exactly what we hear too often. Is there a reason behind our school shootings? Is there a reason why, although it does occur in other countries, it is an epidemic here? Lastly, and most importantly, how many more children must die before we do something about it?
In 2012, USA Today reported that Europe experiences far fewer school shootings than the US; USA Today linked this to our individualistic nature (Dorell, p.1) . While individualism makes sense on other levels, I am hesitant to equate school shootings to our individualism. Does America have a “gun culture?” Sure, but I think we are simply desensitized to guns rather than reliant on them. I think this is the cause of our huge lead in gun violence in schools but also gun violence as a whole. We are simply indifferent to guns until 1. There’s a mass shooting or 2. Some politician mentions “gun control.”
Although America has huge rates of gun ownership we also have astronomical rates of gun violence. According to NBC News, every year more than 100,000 people are shot and between 2000-2010 335,609 people were died from guns. (NBC News) These are huge numbers! Honestly, I don’t know which is scarier the numbers or the fact that we have done nothing to stop it. I’m 2010, more children under five were killed than police officers in the line of duty. (NBC News) Why is gun violence so high here in the US? Switzerland has 45 guns per 100 residents compared to 89 per 100 in the US yet gun violence in Switzerland is almost unheard of. (Dorell, p.1) In Israel, many people openly carry guns in the streets and again, non-political gun violence is very rare. (Dorell, p.1) Is it our violent video game culture? Our violent TV culture? Our celebrity culture? I cannot begin to answer that but I do know one thing……something must be done to curb the violence.
Americans are quick to quote the Constitution or refer to Chicago when gun control is mentioned but control doesn’t mean gun prohibition; we can have control without prohibiting gun ownership. We could 1. Require background checks on any gun purchase. This would include rifles and shotguns as well as handguns and private sales. 2. Ban assault rifles. There is simply no good reason to allow assault rifles or automatic weapons in America. 3. Limit magazines to 10 rounds. 4. Require serial number stamping on expended rounds. and 5. Implement mandatory sentencing for gun violations. These may be small steps but at least they are steps in the right direction. We simply cannot continue down the same path we are on.
“Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” Albert Einstein
Dorell, Oren. 18 December 2012. In Europe, Fewer Mass Killings Due to Culture Not Guns. USA Today. http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/world/2012/12/17/guns-mass-killings-worldwide/1776191/
NBC News. U.S. News. 16 January 2013. Just the Facts: Gun Violence in America. http://usnews.nbcnews.com/_news/2013/01/16/16547690-just-the-facts-gun-violence-in-america?lite