• Sereen Banna

America's Love for Guns Has Failed Children Yet Again

The Shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas on May 24th is the worst school shooting since Sandy Hook. 19 children in second, third, and fourth grade and two teachers were killed.

Are there words to describe the gut-wrenching feeling of losing a loved one to a senseless act of gun violence? Are there any words to describe what that feeling is like when the victims are second, third, and fourth grade children?

Robb Elementary School experienced a devastating loss on Tuesday when a lone gunman entered the school and took the lives of nineteen innocent students and two teachers. While this devastating shooting is the worst elementary school shooting since Sandy Hook, it is not the first of 2022 - nor will it be the last.

What struck me was these kinds of mass shootings rarely happen anywhere else in the world. Why? They have mental health problems. They have domestic disputes in other countries. They have people who are lost. But these kinds of mass shootings never happen with the kind of frequency that they happen in America. Why? Why are we willing to live with this carnage? Why do we keep letting this happen? Where in God’s name is our backbone to have the courage to deal with it and stand up to the lobbies? - President Biden

While gun violence is a broad term that includes suicides, homicides, police shootings, and unintentional shootings, what is the one common denominator between them all? Guns. America is home to the land of the free and the most guns than any other country. There are an approximate 393 million guns in America, yet the U.S. is also home to the weakest gun laws. In 2020, there were more than 45,000 deaths by gun violence, and that number is expected to grow with time.

Gun owners and gun fanatics claim the Second Amendment to be the reason for their liberty in owning such destructive weapons. The Constitution gives Americans the right to bear arms, so it's no surprise that gun control has not been successful in legislation. Democrats and Republicans together have failed to pass comprehensive gun control legislation - legislation that would not take guns away from the people, but simply make it more difficult for people to own guns. However, both parties are quick to send out their thoughts and prayers on social media following such a heinous crime.

So where have thoughts and prayers landed Americans?

To date - as of March 25th - there have been 212 mass shootings in the United States in 2022. That's more than one mass shooting daily since the year started. 17,189 people have lost their lives. 140 of those victims were children and 504 of those were teenagers. Since the beginning of the year, there have been 27 school shootings. Further, following the hate crime at Tops Friendly Market on May 14, 2022, there have been 17 mass shootings in the United States. In 10 days, there were 17 mass shootings.

These shootings, although often attributed to mental illness, are a plague. They neither reflect the community of millions suffering from actual mental illness, nor do they attempt to. Senator Chris Murphy released a statement about claims that this shooter was mentally ill, stating, "Spare me the bullsh*t of mental illness ... We're not an outlier on mental illness, we're an outlier on firearms."

Utilizing mental illness to explain these shootings scapegoats all of the members of our society dealing with a mental illness. Mental illness is not the fallback excuse to gun violence whenever it seems most applicable. The reason there is gun violence at such alarming rates in the United States is because of guns.