This March is the first March since 2002 that has had zero school shootings. Why? Schools were shut down all across America. School shootings are an almost exclusively American problem. While there are a handful of countries that have experienced school shootings, the United States of America has had more than fifty-seven times as many school shootings than any other industrialized nation in the world combined. In 2018, there was an average of one school shooting per week. This number has remained constant until the COVID-19 crisis shut down schools. School shootings rarely make national headlines anymore, because they are so commonplace. It is an egregious epidemic of which every American should be ashamed. When my hometown had a school shooting, the news barely broke outside of New Mexico because there were two fatalities. One would think that the country dubbed the “leader of the free world” would be a safe place to send children to school, but unfortunately that is not the case. With semi-automatic weapons being available for purchase all over the United States, shooters can easily annihilate entire classrooms. As the country that brought the world much of the technology that is widely used today like cars, airplanes, cellphones, Google, and Amazon, it is absolutely unacceptable that schoolchildren are constantly under threat of attack in a place that is meant to be safe.
Although the first reported school shooting in American history happened in 1764, the mass shootings that are so common in our news today started gaining proliferation after the 1980s. Columbine, the infamous high school shooting perpetrated by Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, led to the current era of school shootings. The two shooters gained notoriety due to their anti-social writings and manifesto. The story was sensationalized by news media, and many other victims of bullying felt that the writing resonated with them personally. The uptick after the late 1990s is easily seen by a quick Google search of school shooting statistics. Now, it is a widely accepted truth that any misfit white teenage boy should be heeded with caution, especially if he shows any propensity toward violence.
As a lifelong student, with two parents that work in public schools, I am especially aware of school shootings. There have been more than five instances in which I had to call my mother and ask if she was okay because there was either a weapon found on campus or an active shooter threat. All of my friends either work in or attend schools. All of my aunts are teachers in elementary schools. A school shooting is one of my biggest fears for all of these reasons. The conclusion that makes the most logical sense to me is to completely eradicate guns in this country. This is a radical viewpoint, and I am aware of that, but it is the only option that will protect citizens from gun violence. There is no reason for the average American citizen to have firearms. There are people who will argue that they are used recreationally, or that farmers need them to protect their land. I argue that there are plenty of other tools that can be used for the same effect such as soft pellet guns and bows. Despite the inevitable backlash, the only responsible piece of legislation that the United States government can pass is a bill to collect all firearms and ammunition and melt or dispose of them. Until guns are inaccessible, shootings will keep occurring at this exponential rate. Those that argue that guns will be replaced by knives or other weapons are short-sighted; the problem is that guns can decimate populations, whereas knives can only be used within a twenty foot radius and kill one person at a time. The problem is the weapon, and they have only been protected by special interest lobbying groups like the National Rifle Association, which will do anything in their immense capabilities to convince legislators to allow guns to be sold freely across the country. The most heartbreaking consequence of all of this is that in 2012, Adam Lanza shot and killed twenty children in their first grade classroom, as well as six adults. No changes were made to change gun laws in the United States. If a room full of six year-olds dying needlessly on a December morning does not change the availability and usage of guns in this country, I am afraid nothing will.