Staff Editorial: A step backward

We have entered a new stage of violence and political division in the United States. The recent mass shooting in Uvalde, Texas and overturning of Roe v Wade not only enraged a huge number of citizens, it stoked the long-running split in political beliefs and ideology among Americans. Problems such as this have spread further, alienating our social climate and setting the country decades back in terms of civil and political rights. 

There has not been a full week in 2022 without at least one mass shooting in the U.S. According to the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME), America has 22 times the amount of age-adjusted firearm homicides as the entirety of the European Union. Age-adjusted statistics mean the surveyed group uses the same age distribution as the standard population in order to eliminate bias. The numbers prove our country is an obvious outlier for gun violence compared to other highly developed countries, even surpassing some low income countries. 

The Gun Violence Archive (GVA) defines mass shootings as having a minimum of four victims shot, either injured or killed, not including the shooter. According to GVA, there were 611 mass shootings in America in 2020. This number is a large increase compared to the 417 and 336 mass shootings in 2019 and 2018, respectively. As of Aug. 20, there have been 424 mass shootings in 2022. To call this a problem would be a gross understatement; this is unacceptable and frankly disturbing. 

In respect to these numbers, our staff believes that this issue deserves more attention. The overturning of Roe v Wade had many people in an uproar and sparked nationwide protests, some of which are still continuing. Although we agree with the amount of concern people bestow onto this issue, we feel gun violence deserves the same level of recognition. Like abortion access, gun violence can affect anyone, including yourself and your loved ones; the only difference is you do not know when. 

The current regulations for firearm ownership in America are relaxed compared to many similar countries. Under the Gun Control Act (GCA), individuals as young as 18 can buy shotguns, rifles and ammunition, and individuals over the age of 21 are able to purchase all firearm and ammunition types. In contrast, there are currently 14 states with at least a six week ban on abortion procedures, despite the fact that most people do not learn they are pregnant until about five to six weeks, according to Crystal Newby, a local OB-GYN. From where we stand, it seems this country is more accepting of violence and domestic terrorism than many individuals having basic rights. 

Regardless of this, the numbers should not matter. We should not need statistics to convince our lawmakers and peers that this is a problem. America is moving backward, putting us decades behind where we once were, in a society that many of us have only heard about from our parents and grandparents. Our generation needs to do better. A change is necessary, and we are the people with the best tools to enact it. Stay informed, use your platform to spread awareness on all issues, not just ones you know will affect you. Fight not only for yourself, but for the rights and safety of others.