Opinion: Lawmakers need to act now to stop senseless shooting deaths


Credit: Courtesy of Flickr user Neil Weinberg

WSPN’s Emily Roberge discusses the nation’s recent wave of mass shootings and her opinion on the urgent need for gun control.

If you have tuned into the news in the past week, then you’ve probably heard about the recent mass shooting in Boulder, Colorado at a King Soopers grocery store close to the University of Colorado. Ten people were left dead as they filled their shopping carts.

This is our country, a place where citizens live in constant fear of where the next attack will be: another grocery store, a spa, a gas station, a school, a mall? Who will be the next victims? We keep running through the different motives of suspects and honoring needlessly lost lives. How long can we continue down this frightening path?

I feel like whenever I turn on the news and see another mass shooting, the coverage is the same. It begins with investigators trying to discover the horrifying motive behind the shooting. Then, it continues with interviews and stories about beloved family members and friends who were lost too young as memorials are set up in their honor and funeral arrangements are made. Usually, the shooter’s past will then be put underneath a microscope as law enforcement pieces together every aspect of the story, resulting in each new single piece of information being a front-page breaking news headline. Once that occurs, another mass shooting will enfold, diverting our attention from the last one to the next one. This vicious cycle will then repeat itself over and over again. I feel like my generation has grown up all too accustomed to this reality. It almost feels normal.

Following the influx of mass shootings, it seems like we may soon reach more mass shootings than days of the week. Last week alone, there were seven mass shootings that took place, three of which occurred on Saturday, March 20. After hearing this, many began to spread the word on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms about the horrors of the recent events. Whether it was the killing of six Asian-American women in an Atlanta Spa, the killing spree in the King Soopers grocery store or the other 104 mass shootings that have taken place so far in 2021, just talking about how terrifying these tragedies are will not cut it. We need to act now before it is too late.

Now comes the conversation we all must stop avoiding: the issue of guns. A recent study from Vox shows that America has the largest amount of civilians with firearms for every 100 residents of any country in the world, meaning that we have more guns than people in the U.S. With this, comes a greater risk of violence if these guns end up in the wrong hands. Despite many people using guns safely for hunting, protection and their jobs, regulations have not been effective in preventing these tragedies from stopping. Another staggering study conducted by economist Richard Florida concluded that states who impose stricter gun control laws see fewer gun-inflicted deaths.

This is also evident in data used from a 2016 study by an organization called “Injury Prevention,” which found that states like New York and New Jersey with 10% of adults owning guns had five gun-inflicted deaths per 100,000 residents while states like Alaska and Arkansas with close to 60% of adults owning guns had 20 gun deaths per 100,000 residents.

An alarming 2015 by Christopher Ingraham at the Washington Post concluded that throughout 365 days in the U.S., we average one mass shooting per day. Let that number sink into your head: there was one mass shooting per day in 2015. Here we are, five years later with seven mass shootings within one week. If this doesn’t make you frightened, then I do not know what exactly will. I can’t be the only one who is fed up with hearing countless names of innocent people killed. The main thought that comes to my mind is: what will happen next? Will someone I know be a part of another hateful attack? Will I myself be safe during my everyday life, and if not, how do I take the necessary steps to protect myself?

Of course, not everyone who owns a gun has ill intent. Again, some use guns safely for hunting, their job or protection, and they are registered gun owners. But when will it become more apparent that protecting people is more important than the unrestricted right to bear weapons? Why are Americans taking more action to fight for the right to keep their guns than to actually protect the people within their communities?

This is not an issue that is just going to fix itself. Lawmakers are going to need to increase background and mental health checks so that guns do not end up in the wrong hands. We as a society are also going to need to come together to resolve this issue. For now, the number of mass shootings is only growing.

The recent grocery store shooting in Colorado and killing of six Asian-American women in an Atlanta spa offered a great deal of perspective for me. We shouldn’t have to go to the grocery store for a soda with the fear of never returning. We shouldn’t have to worry about what we would do if an armed intruder came into our school and where we would have to hide. We shouldn’t have to see the news every week with a new headline starting with the words “mass shooting.” However, this is what the U.S. has come to. So, what do we do now?