As a journalist, they teach you to be impartial. They teach you to not show biases and to report the news without showing a political stance. But with the recent events in Tennessee, I have to ask: When did children being murdered become a political issue? When did people being murdered in mass numbers on a near weekly basis become a political issue?
On Monday, March 27, the tragedy that occurred at The Covenant School, a private Christian elementary school in Nashville, left six people dead. Three of them were 9 years old. Children are dying in the classroom and yet what is being done about it right now? Nothing. Don’t get me wrong — there’s fighting and debating, but if you think for a second it is about why anyone can easily get a hold of literal death machines, you would be so terribly wrong.
The discussion is now focused on the gender identity of the shooter. Certain news outlets and politicians do not see children sheltered in fear for their lives. They see just another reason to remove the rights of trans people and spread their baseless fear of the LGBTQ+ community.
Gender identity is not the problem — if gender was the problem, then they would note that in a study by the National Institute of Justice, 97.7% of mass shooting perpetrators were male. To take it one step further, that same study showed that 52.3% of those shooters were white. So, if gender really is the issue, then we should not be worried about transgender people. We should be worried about cisgender white males.
However, I must reiterate that gender is not the problem because a lot of politics nowadays is discriminatory. Whether it be toward gender, pro-gun or anti-gun, red or blue, black or white, above all things you know what never discriminates? Guns. Guns will kill anyone, and they are going to keep killing everyone until the political rhetoric stops and proper action is taken.
Newsflash — that proper action is not arming teachers, putting more police in schools, and it especially does not mean more guns. In studies conducted by NBC News, graphical data clearly shows that as the manufacturing of guns has increased, so has the number of child deaths caused by guns.
In 2021, there were a reported 4,021 guns for every 100,000 people in the United States (thetrace.org). Amongst senators Mitt Romney, Richard Burr, Thom Tillis, Roy Blunt and Joni Ernst, they have received a collective $34,488,363 in funding from the NRA. But hey, I’m sure those million-dollar donations do not ever sway the decision making of any of those lawmakers whatsoever.
Look, I am not out here saying that banning guns outright is the solution, but we cannot keep going as a country without any kind of common-sense gun laws. Here are just some of the bare minimum gun laws that can be put in place that may seem like very small changes, but in the long-term would show a significantly positive decrease in gun violence.
For starters, requiring background checks on every purchase of a firearm. Having a three-day waiting period before that person receives their firearm after said background check. Enact Ethan’s Law, which is named after Ethan Song, who unfortunately lost his life in 2018 after a friend’s father had not properly secured a firearm. The law would make it a punishable offense for any injury or death of a minor due to a firearm not being properly stored.
Even if that is “too much” for some lawmakers to wrap their heads around, can we agree to put laws of any kind in place against assault weapons? There is no recreational or security use for assault weapons. That’s just how it is. These are military grade weapons designed with the sole purpose of killing, and that is what they keep doing. There are laws that would limit any ammunition magazine to no more than 10 rounds. Or, even a crazier idea — banning assault weapons outright.
Here’s the unfortunate truth of the matter — on top of the mountain of unfortunate truths we’ve discussed, a certain percentage of the country’s population still does not believe in this epidemic. They would rather make excuses and complicate things further.
Recently, the Shippensburg Borough Council approved an initiative by local law enforcement to have school resource officers in the Shippensburg Area School District. Many schools all over the country seem to be hiring these officers. Does no one see the problem here? We now have armed officers in elementary schools.
Some other schools have installed special barricades on doors, and there’s always the “classic” arming teachers argument. Heck, my high school had buckets filled with river stones put in every single classroom so students could arm themselves. Why do we feel the solution is to put more and more things into our schools when it is much easier if we pass laws that would keep the one thing we want out of our schools out?
I am 21 years old, and for half of my life now I thought I would not live to see the day, and with how little some people seem to care, I think it will be a miracle if I live to see my next birthday or the one after that. I have accepted now that at some point in my life I will either be a survivor or a victim of one, if not multiple, mass shootings. I love to joke with people that the reason I do not want to have children of my own is because I hate them. The sad truth is, why would I want to raise a child in this world knowing that I could lose them one day to gun violence? If I am going to have a child, I want to have them in a world in which I can put them on the school bus and not have to worry if the next time I’m going to see them is on a slab.
If you do not like hypotheticals, then here is a real situation for you. My father is an officer for the Pennsylvania State Police. For any member of law enforcement, the deadliest call you can respond to is a domestic dispute. According to Sanctuary for Families.org, three women are killed every day by an intimate partner, and “abusers with guns are five times more likely to kill their victims.” As of 2017, domestic disturbances are also the leading cause of death for police officers. Can you see why I am constantly living in a perpetual state of fear? I not only have to worry about my life but the rest of my family.
The worst part about all of this is that this article is going to change nothing. I could write 10 pages, or I could write 100 pages, but the state of denial and numbness we have damned ourselves to is irreversible. The discussion of the tragedy in Tennessee will fade. Innocent blood will keep being shed. Lawmakers will come and go, false promises of change will fall on deaf ears of those in power and we will keep spinning in circles until we are all just another statistic to be ignored. If there is one glimmer of hope to be had, it is this — remember the names of those in Tennessee and everywhere else.
Evelyn Dieckhaus, Hallie Scruggs, William Kinney, Katherine Koonce, Cynthia Peak and Mike Hill.