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EDITORIAL: Action must be taken to prevent more American tragedies caused by gun violence

As Congress debates important legislation relating to guns, the safety of communities must be centered.

Action must be taken to address the gun crisis.  – Photo by Joe / Unsplash

A recurring, and uniquely American problem, is that of guns and mass shootings. There have already been more than 200 mass shootings just in this past year, an astonishing amount that far outnumbers the number of actual days in 2022 so far.

Perhaps it was predestination. We are the generation, after all, that was born and reared in a post-9/11 America. But it feels more than just that. The violence of today feels more fundamental, the suffering feels more inescapable and the deaths more universal. 

Movie theaters, grocery stores, churches, schools — all of these are pillars of communities. Where you might go to feel kinship, a sense of purpose, destress or just to run errands of everyday life. All of these places, though, have also been targets of gun violence.

There is no place that feels truly safe anymore. Anywhere you go, the threat of guns remains.

For our generation, this is all we have known. We have grown up with the constant threat and fear of school shooters, constant lockdown drills and awkward, heartbreaking conversations with our parents about guns and about violence.

Our childhoods were overshadowed by the threat of guns. We deserve better. In the aftermath of the shootings in Buffalo, N.Y., and Uvalde, T.X., The Daily Targum's editorial board offers reflections on this unsustainable and uniquely American violence.

Isabella Tyszka, editor-in-chief: "Growing up, experiencing active shooter drills was incredibly harrowing and the effect of that still continues into today. Personally, out of habit, every time I enter a new space or building there is an immediate and subconscious thought of where to hide, how to locate the exits, etc. This generation has experienced such trauma from an early age and It is frustrating. Now, we have the potential to finally break the cycle of inaction on gun reform."

Victoria Yeasky, managing editor: "Despite growing up in a school environment that is so clearly susceptible to gun violence, I honestly never thought much about active shooter drills becoming a normal part of life. That, to me, is really concerning. Looking back now, and still being a student, the fact that we have to fear death in such an environment is cause for great concern in this country. It is so upsetting and angering to me that kids, teenagers and adults alike are all losing their lives unjustly to gun violence. This is the only country in the world where this happens to this degree and the U.S. needs to critically rethink this major issue to finally see some change."

Astha Lakhankar, news editor: "It seems that every time a mass shooting or gun-related death occurs, politicians and people in power take to social media to send 'thoughts and prayers' instead of taking any real action against gun violence. In 2020, firearm-related injuries became the leading cause of death for children and adolescents in the U.S. It is deeply disturbing to see so many elected officials acknowledge facts such as this and still not do anything about it. We need to hold our lawmakers accountable and send a message, through advocacy, education and voting, that we need stronger and more effective gun control laws in this country.

Kithmy Wickramasinghe, associate news editor: "Gun violence continues in the U.S. at a highly alarming rate, with numerous shootings even after the tragedy at Uvalde. Mass shootings have been and are still a severe public health crisis, and we desperately need change and accountability."

Claire Bruno, associate news editor: "While it used to seem like a distant and unlikely issue, gun violence is a problem now that seems like everyone has to be afraid of due to how the law continuously allows it to happen. I do not think there is any instance where someone has a reason or right to own an assault rifle, it only puts people in danger. If politicians are still so adamant about protecting second amendment rights, in my opinion, they can still take action now by limiting the amount and type of weapon anyone can obtain such as no longer allowing individuals to own more than a single handgun. They should make the requirements much more strict than just a background test. It should be a longer process to ensure the buyer has a clear level of mental health and has a relevant reason to own one."

Ricky Suta, opinion editor: "While the issue of guns is certainly heartbreaking and infuriating, I have recently found myself feeling hopeful. On one hand, the issue of guns has shown the corrosive power of money on politics and the deadly effects therein. On the other hand, though, out of such tragedy, young people — like all of us — have stepped up and begun to fight for change. That energy, that spirit of standing up and demanding things change, leaves me feeling optimistic. We all need to channel that level of intensity in the upcoming midterm elections so that we are represented by people who understand what we need and will fight for us: no more 'thoughts and prayers,' we need action — action that we initiate at the ballot box this November."

Dylan McCoy, sports editor: "I think the idea of people who cannot legally have a drink in this country being able to buy high-powered assault rifles is insane. The minimum age needs to be raised (if we cannot get rid of AR-15s, which we should) and background checks and red flag laws need to become a nationwide standard. It is incredible how some people are alright with the last 20 years being filled with mass shootings in this country’s schools."

Jack Bisaha, associate sports editor: "The number of mass shootings so far this year exceeds the number of days we have had in 2022. If that does not signal that our country has an extensive problem with guns, I do not know what else to say, and politicians in power should be held accountable for this failure. After the Sandy Hook mass shooting in 2012, we said never again. Will we actually mean it now in the wake of the unspeakable tragedy in Uvalde?"

Vy Nguyen, copy editor: "In light of what happened in Uvalde and every other tragedy that has happened in this country as a direct result of lax gun legislation, our futures and death of Uvalde’s victims demand our attention. While tragic, these events are not unpredictable. They have become our status quo, and it is now up to us to challenge the culture of violence surrounding gun violence rather than stay complacent."

Kevin Rosa, associate copy editor: "I believe that something must be done. It is not fair for people to fear for their life while doing daily activities — especially kids. It breaks my heart that kids are in danger somewhere where they spend the majority of their time. I am in disbelief that some people think it is better to train students on what to do in case of a school shooter rather than reinforcing gun control."

Meredith MacLean, features editor: "It is pretty ridiculous to me that small children are being gunned down and people are more concerned with rights outlined in a document written where guns were nowhere near what they are today, and any threat the government posed was much more conquerable by the populace. People like to think of themselves as more powerful than they are. Owning guns is a power fantasy, whether people want to keep their perceived power or exert it over someone else. We need strict, sensible gun laws in the way many other countries in the world have them. Saving the lives of children in schools or gay people in nightclubs or Black people at grocery stores or concertgoers or church-goers or mall shoppers is much more important than any weapon."

Henry Wang, photo editor: "It seems to me that guns are so deeply ingrained in American culture that we have accepted the consequences of mass shootings. Nothing has really changed since Sandy Hook and nothing can really change if the National Rifle Association and Republican party continue to prioritize the sentiments of gun owners over victims of mass shootings."

Chris Kim, video editor: "This topic of gun control has spiraled into this insane discussion. It is caused by this major divide between people, but the reasons behind why these conversations are happening come from a place of legitimate concern. Here, it feels like we are always reporting and listening about another mass shooting, and it is scary that this discussion has repeated itself for a long while now. This aura of desensitization surrounding an issue that should not be normal is what scares me."

Rachel Chang, social media editor: "I think that we need to firmly implement gun control — the increase in mass shootings should be convincing enough to lawmakers that we need to be stricter with gun laws and restrictions. The fact that children and teachers cannot feel at ease in their schools is a huge red flag and disappointing. It not only makes our country look bad but makes the people who are living here feel unsafe."

The Daily Targum's editorials represent the views of the majority of the 154th editorial board. Columns, cartoons and letters do not necessarily reflect the views of the Targum Publishing Company or its staff.

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