By Grace Jenkins
Gun violence in America has impacts beyond the lives of its victims. Trauma caused by these terroristic attacks produces a cesspool of paranoia that only seems to be growing. More than forty percent of Americans fear the threat of a mass shooting, which is reasonable considering the fact that 12,386 gun-related deaths (about 20,000 have died from suicide) and 24,465 injuries have already transpired in 2019. Unfortunately, this pattern of mass shootings has become a norm, a cultural symbol of the United States. As more shootings occur without any sort of reform, our society will become more numb and desensitized to such hate-fueled crimes.
In states like Louisiana, Utah, New York, Michigan, and Ohio, active shooting reports are being called in to first responders, only for teams to uncover no actual threat. Not only are these false alarms expensive because of deploitation and equipment costs, but each incident has a psychologically detrimental impact on those first responders who mentally prepare for a life-or-death situation. Sadly, during these circumstances where individuals believe their lives are being threatened, massive panic overtakes rationality. For instance, in Times Square, New York, twenty two people were injured during a stampede after backfire from a motorcycle was believed to have been a shooter. Later, a sign in Valley Fair Mall, Utah fell over and mall-goers assumed a mass shooting was about to take place. The entire mall was evacuated before police uncovered no active threat. The aforementioned examples mark the beginning of an era plagued by incidents that waste both time and money.
Two thousand shootings should not have occurred since Sandy Hook. The massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School should have been enough incentive for change. If the death of twenty elementary school children didn’t spark any attempts to combat this gun crisis, it’s extremely unlikely anything else will. As morbid as it sounds, the only way for political figures to see the necessity behind reform is if they experience the loss of their own loved one during a mass shooting. Lawmakers need to stand by their people, those lost and living, and strive to find solutions instead of what is at fault. It starts with acknowledging the third rail issue. Guns aren’t the problem; it’s the people wielding them. In a perfect world, firearms would be reserved solely for the military. However, considering the mindset of this country, that option is not currently feasible. Instead, background checks to purchase a firearm should be as intense and as strict as immigration checks are, and that progress starts with abolishing private sellers. After all, if the precedent for entering the country is to assume that every outsider is a potential terrorist, we need to assume that every person interested in purchasing a gun plans to commit mass murder.