The Epidemic of Gun Violence in the U.S.

By Audrey Huynh

The American Flag on a flagpole during sunrise.
Photo Credits: Wikimedia Commons

SAN JOSE, CALIF.– The U.S. is infamous for its lenient gun laws and nonstop shootings. With shootings happening practically everyday, fearful citizens are wondering when this violence will stop.

The second amendment of the Constitution of the United States of America grants the right to bear arms. This means that citizens can easily become gun owners and legally possess those weapons. 

Although we are barely halfway through 2023, the Gun Violence Archive organization has already reported a total of about 14,000 deaths and 11,100 injuries from firearms. In 2022 alone, GVA tracked a whopping 647 mass shootings throughout the year, while 2023 has 185 so far. It should be noted that GVA only records mass shootings, defined as incidents where four or more people have died or been injured. This means that the smaller shootings, where only two or three people are involved aren’t documented.

Of the countless deaths and injuries from 2022, a significant portion comes from shootings at schools, festivals, and parties. The most notable was the incident at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas which left 19 students and two teachers dead. It sparked outrage across several social media platforms and inspired many protests and petitions. Prom parties also were subject to such shootings, leaving many injured and several others dead.

California is one of the states with the strictest gun laws in the nation, alongside New Jersey. The state requires a thorough background check as well as a 10-day waiting period when purchasing any assault weapons. On average, California encounters a total of 44 mass shootings per year between 2013 and 2021. 

When I was in middle school, I was constantly terrified of having my life ripped away from me from a shooting. It didn’t help that mass shootings made the headlines every other day and my school constantly received threats. While I am grateful that I live in a state with stricter gun laws, I can’t help but wonder: would this really help eradicate gun violence completely? 

Many reports show that most assaulters suffer from various forms of mental illness or display unusual behavior prior to shootings. Mental health education and support as well as tighter gun laws in all the states are a good place to start when attempting to prevent such catastrophes. While making guns completely illegal and removing the second amendment would be ideal, I don’t think it would be likely considering the power and influence of the Republican party. Of course, even if guns were illegal, that wouldn’t completely stop people from acquiring a gun unlawfully. 

Since March, constant shootings have made the headlines where innocent young people have been shot for making small mistakes. Ralph Yarl was shot for ringing the wrong doorbell, Kaylin Gillis for pulling into the wrong driveway, Payton Washington and Heather Roth for opening the wrong car door, and Waldes Thomas Jr. and Diamond D’arville for driving onto the wrong property. All these teenagers made minor errors with massive consequences. No one deserves to be hurt because of a mistake.

The Bay Area is not a stranger to gun violence. Recently, on April 25, an individual was arrested for threatening to shoot at Palo Alto High School. During the lockdown, on March 25, 2021, a shooting took place at Brigadoon Park, just across the street from Silver Creek High School. Numerous highway shootings have also been reported, with the most recent being on April 10, 2023.

One sophomore from Silver Creek High School said he felt deeply troubled after reading about all these incidents. “I wouldn’t feel safe leaving my house at all if I lived in those types of neighborhoods,” he said.

There is some hope for a safer future, though. The many shootings in the past year have sparked outrage, as well as protests and calls for tighter gun control. According to a Gallup study, about 91% of Democrats and 24% of Republicans are in favor of firmer gun laws. In 2022, several states including California, Delaware, and New York passed laws to restrict gun violence. 

A gun with its bullets.
Photo Credits: Wikimedia Commons

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