With back-to-back shootings in El Paso and Dayton, it’s time for the United States to take action on gun violence

Photo courtesy of: Ruperto Miller/Wikimedia Commons
Mourners stand in front of a memorial for the victims of the August 3 shooting in an El Paso, Texas Walmart. A day later, on August 4, there was another mass shooting in Dayton, Ohio.

El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio are more than 1,500 miles apart. However, in a span of 15 hours, a mass shooting ravaged each city. 

Under the sweltering morning morning sun of El Paso, the aisles of Walmart became a warzone as screams echoed off the tall ceilings and children hid behind displays of books. Twenty two people died because a man filled with hate was empowered by a gun. 

Half a day later, the lively Oregon District of Dayton became a battlefront as the sound of footsteps echoed off old buildings and gunshots rattled the night sky. Nine people died because a man filled with hate was empowered by a gun.

And yet America falters.

“It is too soon to talk about it,” people say, when not even a whole day separates one loss of life from another. Politicians hide behind thin veils of “thoughts and prayers.” Vigils are held. Then people forget about it. 

This year, there have been more mass shootings in the United States than days in the year, according to an August 5 CBS article. El Paso and Dayton will become just blips in our consciousness of a lifetime of mass shootings.

But it should not be this way. 

The president should be screaming “ENOUGH!” from his throne of power. Lawmakers should be screaming “ENOUGH!” from their legislative assemblies. And we, as citizens, should be screaming “ENOUGH!” from every street corner, politician’s office, and ballot box in November.

Because this is not normal.

Mass Shootings in the United States vs. Other Countries

A mass shooting is commonly defined as a result of firearm-related violence in which four or more people are killed. And these mass shootings are becoming a part of day-to-day life in the United States. Schools, movie theaters, and shopping centers are no longer innocent places, but instead tainted with fear of the possibility: will this be where it happens next?

As of August 5, there have been 255 mass shootings in the United States this year according to the Gun Violence Archive. Also, as of August 5, there have been 217 days this year. On average, there has been more than one mass shooting a day so far this year. That number is too large. 

When compared to other countries similar to the United States, the rate of gun violence in America looks even larger. In 2017, there was only one mass shooting in Canada, according to a Reuters article. This year there have been only a few more.

So why are there so many mass shootings in the United States?

Arguably, due to a lack of regulation of gun sales and possession.

Gun Control

The words “gun control” are emotionally-charged words in the United States. To some, they go against one of the very principles the United States was built on; as outlined in the Second Amendment, the right to bear arms is a freedom that every American possesses. To others, gun control embodies a way to pursue life, liberty, and happiness; these ideals cannot be achieved if one lives in fear of being shot. Because of this, the idea of gun control has divided our country along political and moral lines.

However, gun control should not be a matter of Republican or Democrat, or pro-gun or anti-gun. It should be a matter of life. If innocent people are dying at the hands of angry men enabled by guns, that is a problem. And it is a problem that needs to be solved.

In 1996, a gunman opened fire in Australia, slaughtering 35 people. While the country mourned, the government got to work. A few weeks following the mass shooting, legislation that banned assault weapons and shotguns as well as financed gun buyback programs was being planned.

After the gun control laws passed, the number of gun massacres decreased for the next 10 years, according to a 2007 Harvard Injury Control Research Center publication.

As shown in Australia, gun control can be effective in reducing gun violence, such as mass shootings. And although it is not a perfect solution, it is far better than doing absolutely nothing.

What the Future Needs

Right now the future looks frightening. Schools filled with bulletproof backpacks and emergency rooms brimming with bullet wounds will continue to be normalized. Mass shootings will be the defining factor of this generation. El Paso and Dayton will fade in our memories, becoming mere mentions in history books among hundreds of other incidences of gun violence in this decade.

But the future is not completely hopeless. Both activism and awareness have grown out of pain. Democrats have called on the Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell (R-KY), to call the Senate back in session to discuss bipartisan gun control legislation, according to an NBC article. Daytonians pleaded with Gov. Mike DeWine (R-OH) to “do something” when he spoke in their town. Latino activists are marching in El Paso to encourage lawmakers to take action.

We have had enough. So, it’s time for lawmakers to open their hearts to the pain of America and take action. 

Because this is not normal.


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