This is America. A place of division, hatred, fear, and gun violence. As of May 26, 2021, there have been at least 232 mass shootings in the United States. A mass shooting is defined as an incident in which four or more people are injured. When innocent individuals die, we mourn their deaths and send our condolences. But how does our country, our system, sit in silence, passive to the gun epidemic in our country? How do we send our family members to work, knowing they may not come back? When will enough be enough?
What do the Las Vegas, Orlando nightclub, Virginia Tech, and Sandy Hook shootings all have in common? Semi-automatic rifles were used by the shooters. According to surgeon Adil Haider, semi-automatic rifles are able to “shoot twice the number of people” (Dockrill 1). Further, they differ from other guns because of their ability to self-load, making it easier to shoot more individuals at a higher accuracy. In contrast, single shot firearms require manual loading, which is comparatively much slower and inefficient.
Semi-automatic rifles are used in the military. So, how do regular individuals acquire them? In many states, it is as easy as walking into a store. John Markell, Roanoke Firearms owner, says that you can buy a semi-automatic gun in “15 minutes.” Although government owned stores require background checks, they do not always prevent a weapon from getting into the wrong hands. Someone with a clean-slate may have bad intentions, however, the background check cannot determine the buyer’s motives. Even after the Orlando shooting that resulted in the death of 49 people, an AR-15 could be bought in 38 minutes.
Mass shootings disproportionately affect the Black and Brown communities. Since the prevalence of COVID-19, the number of mass shootings has skyrocketed in low income, high crime areas. According to NPR, 36 mass shootings occurred in September 2020, with 31 shootings being in Black neighborhoods. Due to the fear of contracting COVID-19, police officers have been increasingly reluctant in entering these communities. As these areas are left unattended, violence persists.
Gun violence is a very challenging topic in our country because it causes great division. It is undeniable that there is no easy solution. However, it is important to recognize that the longer our country waits to make real change, more innocent individuals' lives will be sacrificed.