The Valentine’s Day shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida claimed 17 lives and caused immeasurable grief and tragedy. Unfortunately for our nation, this kind of gun violence is not unusual or shocking — but this does not mean we should be desensitized to gun violence.
Vox displayed an interactive chart online, credited to Gun Violence Archive statistics and created by Vox’s Soo Oh, that pinpoints mass shootings in the nation that have taken place since the Sandy Hook shooting in December 2012. The image reveals a dizzying portrait of red pins, as Gun Violence Archive tallies up that 1,607 mass shootings have happened since then.
The database, according to Vox, tracks tragedies since 2013 that include four or more beings, independent of the shooter, being shot at the same time and location to account for this staggering statistic. The accumulation of police reports and news stories tallied that these shootings have claimed 1,846 lives and wounded 6,459 people since the Feb. 14 date of Vox’s publication. However, the Gun Violence Archive estimates that over 32,000 firearm deaths occur in America a year — an incredible number, putting the United States as having “way more gun violence than its developed peers.”
While other comparable nations such as Switzerland, Canada and Germany had 7.7, 5.1 and 1.9 firearm homicides per 1 million people in 2012, respectively, the United States clocks in at a whopping 29.7 homicides per figure.
“The US makes up about 4.4 percent of the global population but possesses 42 percent of the world’s civilian-owned guns,” the Vox article reads. “And the empirical research shows that places with more guns have more homicides.”
The article points to a link between America’s highly elevated gun violence and its cultural and policy decisions that make firearms far more available in America than the rest of the world.
In a Feb. 15 opinion column for the New York Times, David Leonhardt quotes a recent study from the journal of Health Affairs that sites the United States as “the most dangerous of wealthy nations for a child to be born into.”
Leonhardt sites three factors in earning this depressing title, stating that the death rate of children in America was actually slightly lower than other comparable nations in the 1960s. The three reasons are as follows: America hasn’t had enough success in reducing infant mortality rates; the United States has not adequately reduced vehicle deaths; and the United States suffers from what Leonhardt refers to as “an epidemic of shooting deaths which are nearly nonexistent elsewhere.”
He continues, “The gun homicide rate in this country is 49 times higher than in other rich countries, according to the Health Affairs study.” Leonhardt blames the 17 lives claimed on “a country that didn’t care enough about their lives.”
This is not just a nationwide problem, but something we have to worry about in our state and communities. News channel WFAA tweeted following the shooting, revealing that the third North Texas High School —South Garland — reported gun violence on campus, following Plano West and Marcus Flower Mound finding guns on campus. No shots were reported to be fired and while each incident resulted in an arrest, but this is not the world we want to send our kids into.
In an alarming set of gun violence facts, Vox states that there is roughly one gun for every person in America, that places with more guns have more homicides, suicide is more common in places with more guns, your chance for death increases when you live in a house with guns and guns help contribute to domestic violence.
Texas is a very pro-gun state, but with these statistics, perhaps it is worth your time to consider a more stringent stance on gun control. Though at the same time, it is important to remember — people kill, not guns. When there is a bomb, we don’t blame the bomb — we look at the bomber.
Wherever your stance is on gun control, it is important that we recognize the gravity of the situation and work together to come up with a solution for the ongoing gun violence crises plaguing our nation. This is a very serious issue and the bottom line is, guns should not be celebrated. Yes, they are a constitutional right, but statistics point towards the fact that having guns readily available leads to heightened homicides, which is something we as a nation need to prevent.
Lastly, in news coverage, never give attention to the shooter. Deny them that “glory.” Instead, remember the victims.
Emma Polini is the managing editor of the Van Alstyne Leader, Anna-Melissa Tribune and Prosper Press. What do you want in your paper? Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org to let her know.