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Texas mass shooting brings gun control into the spotlight

  • June 20, 2022
  • 5 min read
Texas mass shooting brings gun control into the spotlight

On the 24th of May, 2022, 19 children and 2 adults were killed in a mass shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas. This is the third deadliest shooting at an American school since the Virginia Tech shooting in 2007 and Sandy Hook Elementary in 2012.

It marks one of over 200 that the country has seen so far this year, according to the Gun Violence Archive. By the end of May, there had been at least 15 more. So far this year, over 17,000 people have lost their lives to gun violence, according to the Archive.

“Gun violence is a leading cause of premature death in the U.S.” the American Public Health Association Reports. “Guns kill more than 38,000 people and cause nearly 85,000 injuries each year.”

Gun ownership in America is seen as a right and essential liberty. The 2nd Amendment to the Constitution reads “a well-regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

This has been interpreted in many ways over the years but the supreme court case DC v Heller in 2008 founded the current line of thinking. The ruling established that the amendment protects an individual’s right to own guns and that the capital city’s ban on handguns, as well as its requirement that shotguns be kept “unloaded and disassembled or bound by a trigger lock”, violated this.

There are two reasons why the 2nd Amendment is so important to pro-gun Americans. The first is that it is considered a check on government power. It is believed to give the people the ability to revolt, as their founding fathers had done in 1776, should the state turn tyrannical. Supporters point to the people of both Vietnam and Afghanistan, who were able to fend off the American military, as proof of this.

The second is self-defence. Guns are seen as an equaliser, allowing anyone however vulnerable, to keep themselves, their families, and their property safe from harm. Even if the person they’re defending against is armed, a gun would allow them to meet with an equal amount of force.

For many, this is a sacred right. Vanansio Samson was told exactly that in 2017 when he begged the police to take away his son Emanuel’s guns. Emanuel Samson would go on to commit a mass shooting, killing one and injuring eight, including himself.

Many states have passed red-flag laws. These allow either the police or family members, to petition a state court to order that a person’s guns be temporarily removed if they pose a danger to themselves or others. Eighteen states, including New York, California, and Florida, all have some form of red flag laws. Only one, Oklahoma, has gone in the opposite direction. It “prohibits the state or any city, county or political subdivision from enacting red flag laws.”

Politicians such as those in Oklahoma and Tennessee will point to many other factors, blaming mental health, as well as violent video games, and heavy metal music, as the reasons for mass shootings.  

There is, however, one thing besides guns that is a link in mass shootings.

Domestic violence and misogyny are proven factors that relate to mass shootings. While each individual might have different motives for committing such an act, data shows that these are factors that connect all mass shootings. It’s easy to see how red flag laws could’ve stopped most, if not all of these.

That’s the crucial part of it. Domestic violence and misogyny, like mental health and violent video games, are not unique to America. The view that gun ownership is a fundamental human right is not one you’ll find in many other constitutions around the world.

For this reason, it can be easy to think that America has too far gone. There are nearly 400 million guns in private hands, greater than the population. Getting the genie back in the bottle seems an arduous task.

According to Pew, most Americans are in favour of some form of gun control, including background checks (81%), an assault-weapons ban (63%), and a ban on high-capacity ammunition magazines (6%).

APM Research Lab’s survey of 1,009 adults titled Guns & America/Call To Mind found that at least 70% of Americans, particularly women, support red flag laws including 60% of gun owners.

It’s easy to feel fatigued when hearing about another story like that in Uvalde. It seems that there’s no end in sight. However, the high amount of support for some forms of gun control should offer some hope. It only highlights the importance of voting and not just in presidential elections. Those in the senate and congress have played a vital role in holding back these measures, despite the large amount of support, and electing those willing to make a change, could cause real positive changes.

 

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