US government fails to act after countless shootings

Three years ago, Thousand Oaks suffered one of the greatest tragedies the city has ever experienced. The Borderline shooting took place on Nov. 7, 2018 at the Borderline Bar and Grill. Regardless of whether you knew the victims, we all remember the sense of despair and helplessness that our community felt the day of the Borderline shooting. Thirteen lives were taken, all due to gun violence.

Shootings in America have become so ubiquitous that they’ve been turned into social media trends, causing the school district to send an email home to our families sharing they are aware of the newest TikTok challenge to threaten schools with violence. The email sent Dec. 16 encouraged parents to talk to their students and it provided resources regarding threats to school safety.
After everything the United States has undergone, from a presidential election to a civil rights movement to a full-blown pandemic, regulations for firearms have still remained the same. The federal government has not passed a firm law addressing gun violence since the 1993 Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act, which mandated background checks for all unlicensed individuals purchasing a firearm from a federally authorized dealer. All attempts to restrict the ownership of firearms since then have either been withdrawn or put on hold.

On Nov. 30, when news broke that a school shooting at Oxford High School in Michigan had left four students dead and injured many others, the visceral despair we felt was an all too familiar recurring nightmare. The 15-year-old shooter, Ethan Crumbley, was a sophomore at the school. He had just been gifted the semi-automatic gun from his parents for Christmas–a gun that he later used to shoot 11 people.

America has a long history of preventable gun violence. In 1999, two teenagers at Columbine High School killed 13 people in a shooting spree before committing suicide. In 2012, Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut suffered 27 deaths at the hands of a 20-year-old shooter, which sparked the founding of the Sandy Hook Promise. In 2018, the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting occurred in Parkland, Florida when a 19-year-old shooter opened fire, killing 17 people. In response, thousands of students across the nation walked out of class through the March For Our Lives movement, hoping to inspire some kind of change in order to keep their classmates safe; many students at our very own high school participated.

When it comes to gun violence, however, what we choose to do about these events should not be based just on statistics. Any life taken due to unnecessary and reckless shootings is one too many. How many people need to be shot for the government to finally say “enough”? How long until we begin to take the warning signs seriously?

Regulations on the state level alone are not enough to solve the national issue. Despite the intrinsic risks, some states still do not even require permits for the ownership of firearms, and once they are purchased, there is no regulation as to how they are handled. Over the years, the issue of gun control has been held as a partisan issue; however, the ultimate objective is to save lives, not to “restrict freedom.” The reality of the situation is that school shooters do not discriminate between Democrats and Republicans, liberals or conservatives.

When guns are being handed out to the public arbitrarily, violence is basically in the receipt. People have shown their frustration and worked hard to raise their voices, driven by the hope that maybe the most recent shooting would be the last. Yet, no matter how much people try to make a stand, shooting after shooting still occurs. America is a place where people can buy firearms as Christmas presents for their teenagers. It is also a place where students flinch at the sound of a loud bang or the sound of a fire alarm, immediately thinking of the school shootings they saw on the news.

Legislation, specifically on the federal level, needs to be enacted in order to hold shooters accountable for the tragedies they create. Through easy access to guns, school shootings will continue to persist. Are access to guns worth the student lives they take? The fact that the US government has not taken any action leaves us wondering what their true priorities are.