It Is Time To Draw The Line


Julia Egtvet, Reporter

We are less than halfway into 2022, and according to the Gun Violence Archive, there have already been 251 mass shootings in America. The most recent shootings occurred in Buffalo, New York and Uvalde, Texas. 

In Buffalo the shooter, a self-proclaimed fascist and white supremacist, opened fire in a supermarket killing 10 and injuring three. The majority of his victims were black. According to the BBC, the shooter was just 18 years old and had undergone a mental health evaluation last year after he expressed an interest in committing suicide and, or murder. Despite this, he was still able to purchase his AR-15 legally. 

The Uvalde massacre occurred at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas. 19 children all under the age of 12 were killed along with two teachers, and 17 others were injured. The shooter had turned 18 just a week before the shooting and was able to legally purchase two AR-15s in that time, according to NPR. 

AR-15s are one of the most commonly used weapons in mass shootings. They were used in the Sandy Hook, Las Vegas, Parkland, and now Buffalo and Uvalde shootings. First introduced in the 1960s, these guns are designed to cause mass destruction. While some gun owners use them for hunting, most admit that they purchased them for protection or gun ranges. According to Jennifer Mascia of the website The Trace, the AR-15 creates a shockwave effect as it enters the body which kills the soft tissue and can leave exit wounds the size of oranges. 

In the Uvalde shooting, many of the young children were unrecognizable after being killed by AR-15 gunshots. Maite Rodriguez was just 10 years old and could only be identified by the green Converse shoes that she was wearing. Her body was completely destroyed. Many of her other classmates also had to be identified based on the clothes that they were wearing. This country has failed to act in any meaningful way to change the tide of gun violence and the numbers show it is getting worse. It is time to enact real change that will prevent people from being murdered while they are going about their days.

In the days following the Uvalde shooting, I have watched my classmates jump up when sirens pass the school, fearing that they are stopping at Blanchet. Whenever there is a bang of something in the hallway or a water bottle getting knocked over, people immediately look up. As a high school student, my number one concern should be my schoolwork, not the possibility of a school shooting. Juniors Lily Forsythe and Barrett Efta shared that they usually feel safe at Blanchet, but at a national level, something needs to change. 

“It needs to take months for people to buy a gun,” said Efta. 

Recent legislative proposals that have been supported by both Democrats and Republicans include raising the minimum age to buy an assault rifle to 21 nationwide, along with required gun education programs when purchasing a gun. Like Efta suggested, these education programs would look similar to a driver’s ed class and make the process of buying a gun much longer while a prospective owner learns about how to responsibly handle a gun. Research indicates that brains do not fully develop until we are 25. In the United States at 18, you cannot drink, go to a casino, rent a car, or rent a hotel room, but in many states, you can legally own an assault rifle. Many of the school shootings we have seen in the last 10 years have involved gunmen under the age of 20. By raising the age to buy an assault rifle, we may be able to avoid some future shootings. 

This country is still fairly divided over how to handle gun violence, but it is clear that there are multiple solutions that are not complicated by politics and could create significant change. As a country, we must come together to urge our representatives to pass common sense gun laws. On June 11, March For Our Lives is hosting its second nationwide protest in hopes of showing U.S. politicians that the American people are ready for action. Washingtonians will gather in Olympia to voice their concerns and ask for changes in gun laws across this nation. While we probably cannot legislate our way out of the mass shooting epidemic in America, stricter laws focused on slowing the purchasing of guns and raising the age of legal ownership can make a difference. These are obvious simple steps legislators can and should take today. If you want to learn more about the power and devastating impact of the AR-15, I highly recommend watching this 60 Minute special.