Leah’s Lens: It is too late for just ‘reform’

Leah Boone, Opinion Editor

Editor’s Note: This article contains mention of mass shootings, death and injury.

Listen to this story:

96 days since Jan. 1, 130 mass shootings in America. This translates to 1.35 shootings daily so far this year. Books are being banned, women’s bodies are being micromanaged by government systems and anti-transgender bills are being passed left and right, yet any conversations about gun reform are met with crickets. The country has reached a point at which promises are empty, far too many people are dead and reformation is not enough. 

When the Columbine shooting shocked America in 1999, it was assumed that stricter gun laws would be put into place immediately so this horror could not be repeated. At a high school in Colorado, 13 people were killed and over 20 others were injured before the gunmen committed suicide. Since Columbine, as of March 29, 2023, there have been 376 school shootings. Not only this, but gun violence has increased since Columbine. This is a grotesque display of the country not living up to vital promises and subsequently causing thousands of citizens to be injured, die or lose a loved one. 

Sept. 11, 2001 was one of the most gut-wrenching days in American history, killing 2,977 citizens and injuring thousands more. Immediately after this tragedy, an immense amount of airport security was implemented to minimize the risk of such an attack reoccurring. In just 2020, there were 19,384 deaths via gun violence. Hypothetically, if this were the average per year, then there would have been 368,296 deaths due to guns between 2001 and 2020. These statistics prompt the question: is the only reason government officials were so quick to implement security measures after 9/11 because the perpetrator was al-Qaeda?

The fact that there has been little to no gun reform in the many years of mass shootings is sickening, and it is difficult to ignore the racist undertones of this ignorance. The Violence Project conducted a study in which they found that 98% of mass shootings were done by men, and 52% of these men were white. With the ongoing Black Lives Matter movement and the right-leaning’s counterargument “All Lives Matter,” it seems that a large part of the country would be much more willing to look the other way if the perpetrator is white. 

The school shooting that occurred in Nashville on March 27 killed three 9-year-olds and three faculty members, marking yet another devastating mass shooting this year. One of the most sickening aspects of the aftermath of Monday is the immediate blame from right-leaning citizens on the fact that the shooter was transgender. The main focus should be on the lives lost and the ways to prevent this in the future, not attempting to blame it on one’s sexuality. 

After a shooting killing 14 students in 1989 in Montreal, Canada was quick to enforce stricter gun laws. While these laws have been altered over time and did not completely remove gun violence, they were a step in the right direction and the correct response to mass shootings. Similarly, after a shooting that killed 35 people, Australia severely increased gun regulation and policies to ensure gun owners knew how to handle them safely. Years later after another shooting, gun regulations were increased on handguns as well instead of just semi-automatic and automatic weapons. Many other countries have also responded to gun violence with regulation policies, something the American government has been falsely promising its citizens for years. 

Gun regulation, training, background checks and the overall ban of automatic and semi-automatic rifles are things that should have happened years ago. The epidemic of gun violence should have been treated with the same immediate response as 9/11. It is now far too late for just thoughts and prayers or for empty promises of regulation legislation; action that caused real change should have been taken directly after Columbine. Be loud, be angry and speak out; far too many lives have been lost to continue to sit and wait for regulation.