Uvalde Shooting Reveals Urgent Need for Gun Control

Jeremiah Barron, Around School Editor

On a Tuesday afternoon in Uvalde, Texas, an 18-year-old, armed with an AR-15 style weapon, entered Robb Elementary school, barricaded himself in a classroom, and took 21 lives, 19 of which were children. Law enforcement officers waited idly outside as desperate parents pleaded with them to act. Angeli Gomez, a mother of two at Robb Elementary, rushed into the school and brought her children to safety. 21 families will forever grieve the loss of their loved ones; 519 students will forever be traumatized by the events on a seemingly normal Tuesday afternoon.

We need a solution, and a ban on assault weapons is that solution.

The massacre in Uvalde is but one in a recent wave of mass shootings. As always, the gun debates that have followed are a mess. America seems to be the only country that has yet to agree that mass shootings are caused by guns. It’s clear that a mass shooting cannot occur without a firearm, yet many conservative politicians are hesitant to lay the blame on semi-automatic rifles, the weapons most commonly used in these attacks. These politicians receive too much money from gun lobbyists to openly address the problem. According to Statista, the NRA spent upwards of 3 million dollars on lobbying expenditures last year. Instead, lobbied politicians blame anything and everything else to try and divert support for gun control legislation. One of Texas’ own senators, Ted Cruz, blames an abundance of doors for the tragedy in Uvalde. Republican deflection is nothing new, rather something painfully old, but we must not allow these diversions to delay meaningful action.

America has a gun problem. We are the only country on Earth to have more firearms than people. We need a solution, and a ban on assault weapons is that solution. These bans have been universally effective at stopping mass shootings. In 1996, Australia banned the ownership of firearms following a massacre that left 35 dead. Since then, Australia has only seen 1 mass shooting. The notion that criminals would simply arm themselves illegally is baseless; it has not happened in Australia or any other nation of comparable GDP in the world. This did not happen in America following a weapons ban in 1994, which banned the use of certain firearms and magazines until 2004. In fact, the usage of these weapons in homicides dropped by 70% according to NYU’s School of Medicine in this period. 

Eventually, one can only hope that conservative politicians will decide to protect human life rather than the money they receive from the NRA. Hopefully, they will start to see that their condolences mean nothing to the grieving communities across America. Gun violence is now the leading cause of death among Americans under 18. If conservative politicians claim to be so concerned about the lives of children, then they can start by making schools a place to learn, not a place to die. 

Children are dying, and more children will die until Congress gets its act together and puts the needs of the people over partisan tensions. The blood of every American child taken by these weapons is on its hands. As of now, all we can do is send our thoughts and prayers to Washington and hope politicians at least try to have some integrity.

This piece also appears in our June 2022 print edition.