Mass Shootings Are The True American Epidemic

Mass Shootings Are The True American Epidemic

Isabela Cobley, Reporter

When will enough be enough?

We are currently living in a country where it is easier to obtain an assault rifle than alcohol at the age of 18. A country that has politicians who preach pro-life propaganda, yet cannot help save the lives of innocent people gunned down every single year. We talk about noticing the signs of people struggling with mental health, yet we cannot seem to stop ignoring every little sign before a mass shooting event.

This is not about our second amendment rights anymore; this is about public safety.

A commonality between the Buffalo and Uvalde shooters is that both gunmen were 18 years old. Both of these boys are still teenagers, and both legally owned their guns.

According to an article in the Texas Tribune by Reese Oxner, the Uvalde shooter, Salvador Ramos, just days before the shooting,  purchased two AR15 rifles and 375 rounds of ammunition. Why does an 18 year old need an AR15?  Why does someone who was recently considered a “child” need to purchase a  weapon commonly used in mass shootings? This is where our country is wrong.

If it is illegal to purchase and consume alcohol until the age of 21, why are we able to trust an automatic weapon in the hands of a child?

The Buffalo supermarket shooter, Payton Gendron, another “child”, was legally able to get his hands on an AR-15 rifle a year after he spent time in the hospital for a mental evaluation after submitting a school project admitting he had homicidal/suicidal tendencies. During the purchase of his gun, no red flags arose even after the discovery of his tendencies, as reported by the BBC news service.

This issue, then, not only becomes a systemic problem, but also points to a lack of proper mental health care. We are taught in school to notice the signs of depression and suicidal tendencies, but we fail to acknowledge the other dark side of suicidal thoughts. Many who struggle with suicidal thoughts also have homicidal tendencies. 

Two years ago, I had a personal friend shoot and kill a complete stranger he saw on the street. The shooter was 13 years old at the time of the crime. According to a Q13 report, he had stolen the gun from a friend’s house and had told police he was depressed,  and he ‘just felt like doing it.”

We must bring into the light another dark side of depression as it seems the homicidal suspects in these crimes are dealing with mental health problems. 

First, we must recognize mental health as a factor in these suspects, but we also must take into account the signs both Ramos and Gendron left before committing their crimes. Gendron showed previous homicidal ideation years before the Buffalo shooting by being evaluated for mental health issues. Yet Gendron was not flagged for this evaluation after only making “generalized threats.” Gendron had also been posting radicalized threats and racist threats on messaging boards across the internet. Ramos before committing the Uvalde Elementary attack had messaged a friend explaining he was going to shoot his grandmother. Then after he shot her, messaged once again confirming what he had done, and that he would be targeting an elementary school next.

There have continued to be signs that our government and our society has failed to stop these heinous attacks from happening, but no action has been taken. According to the Sandy Hook Promise, “Almost all mass school shooters shared  threatening or concerning messages or images. More than 75% raised concern from others prior to the attacks. Bystanders saw warning signs in most documented active shooter cases”.

There are lots of steps we can take to help prevent these shootings from continuing to happen.

More calls for gun control after these travesties continue to happen has called attention to important politicians like President Joe Biden who said after the Uvalde attack, “How many scores of little children who witnessed what happened — see their friends die as if they’re on a battlefield, for God’s sake!”  

More and more concerns are arising within our communities since, “948 school shootings have taken place since the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School in December 2012,” according to the Sandy Hook Promise site. 

Students of all ages have been placed into the center of this debate as emotions and fears continue to run high.

“Basically I’m just really really terrified. Not just for myself,  but also for my cousins and other young children who have to grow up with the thought of getting their school shot up in the back of their head,” said junior Finn Pignataro, “I just know that giving teachers guns is definitely not the solution, and neither is trying to ‘prepare students more’. We just need stricter gun laws, and I’m not the most educated on gun control, but I think it should be harder for someone to get their hands on a gun.”

How many more lives need to be taken before real change goes into place? As American society we are living in an epidemic of shootings and gun violence across our nation. The only truth we can face is the one that is in need of change which includes stricter gun control and a better mental health system to help treat these people with homicidal ideation. That is going to be the only way we can stop these mass shootings from happening and stop the fear within our communities.