On May 24 in Texas, in the American Southwest, a gunman went on a shooting spree in an elementary school, slaying 19 children and two adults*. For what should be a safe place of learning, incidents such as this just won’t stop. President Joe Biden, who said, “I am sick and tired of it,” has shown a strong desire to strengthen gun control.
The American people are of two minds when it comes to gun control. The Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution guarantees their right to bear arms. Subsequently, there are around 400 million guns in circulation, more than the entire population of America, allowing tragedies such as last week’s to continue.
Gun supporters must wake up to this grim reality. Policies that don’t rely on firearms must be put into practice so that something like this can never happen again.
The weapon used was a highly lethal semi-automatic rifle, which the assailant* legally purchased soon after turning 18, which is another shocking fact. Supporters of gun control, who believe in the inherent danger of firearms, argue that weapons such as this are unnecessary to defend oneself, while gun supporters, who argue that guns are meant to keep the peace, oppose any and all types of reform.
The National Rifle Association, a gun rights lobbyist organization, held its annual meeting in the same state of Texas just after the incident. There, former President Donald Trump stressed that schools need armed officers on duty and teachers with firearms training; however, fighting fire with more fire isn’t going to get to the root of this issue.
More than 30,000 people each year lose their lives to gun-related incidents in the United States, and, according to a website that tracks mass shootings, last year there were 818 incidents with four or more victims, with 920 people slain. This year there have already been more than 260 incidents with over 300 dead.
It must also be taken into account how many of these cases are hate crimes stemming from racism and xenophobia. On May 14 at a supermarket in New York State, a white supremacist shot 13 people, 11 of them Black**. Ten people died in this massacre.
While the United States may go on about the importance of human rights, that rings hollow when it can’t protect the rights of its own people. President Biden has demanded that Congress introduce laws strengthening background checks and regulating highly lethal assault weapons. However, between a power struggle and antagonism with Republicans, the reality of such a bill is indeed grim. Countries such as Australia and New Zealand have strengthened their own gun control laws, resulting in far fewer gun-related incidents. Perhaps the U.S. should take some notes.
*Editor’s note: The acts described here were allegedly committed by the 18-year-old shooter who died in the attack on the primary school.
**Editor’s note: A man has been arrested and charged with the killings in Buffalo, New York, but has not yet been convicted of any crimes.