Gun Violence & School Shootings: A Uniquely American Problem & What We Can Do About It by Ann Marie G.H. Patitucci
Yesterday, an 18-year-old shot his grandmother and then entered Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, overpowered a school resource officer, then shot and killed 19 children and two teachers in a fourth grade classroom. It was the deadliest school shooting in modern history in Texas.
Nineteen more CHILDREN and two teachers are DEAD. They went to school in the morning but didn't make it home to their families at dismissal time. And we Americans sit here feeling helpless, crying, our hearts breaking for those babies' parents and an entire community. Again. What I keep coming back to is this: these deaths are preventable.
Doing nothing about school shootings and other mass shootings is a CHOICE. However, since the school shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012, nothing has been done. Indeed, “the only notable change since Sandy Hook is that kids are now formally trained to hide, barricade doors, fight or run for their lives. That was the solution. To literally put the responsibility on them to figure it out and wish them luck” (@ZaraRahim). I see gun violence as one of our country’s largest problems, and it is a uniquely American problem.
Whenever a mass shooting happens, we hear citizens and the media question the mental health of the shooter. It is important to understand that the vast majority of individuals with a mental health diagnosis are NOT violent. In fact, other countries have citizens with mental health diagnoses but do not have a problem with gun violence and mass shootings. The difference between the U.S. and other wealthy nations, as the Our World in Data chart demonstrates, is access to GUNS. It isn’t mental health illness; it’s guns. Note, though, that the current reality is even more troubling than the chart (published in The New York Times) indicates, as the data is from 2019, gun violence has increased since the pandemic.
Today I’m thinking of all my teacher friends, who will do their jobs as they always do, as they think about the massacre at Robb Elementary, as they look at the faces of their innocent students and hold back tears, as they ask themselves all the “what ifs” about their own school, their own classrooms. I’m thinking of all the adults at school today as scared students ask questions about safety, knowing that those adults cannot, at least not honestly, promise to keep them safe.
It doesn’t have to be like this. Inaction is a choice. So, what can individual citizens do to prevent another tragedy? We can call and write to our lawmakers and urge them to support common sense gun reform. We can share information about America’s startling gun violence statistics with others. We can donate to nonprofit organizations such as Everytown for Gun Safety which advocate for commonsense gun control. Finally, we can vote like our kids’ lives depend on it – because they do.
Let’s all commit to doing something before another school shooting happens, before we let another child die on our watch.
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