Last Friday, a young student at Marysville-Pilchuck High School walked into the cafeteria and opened fire on his classmates. Six people were shot in total at the Seattle-area school. Two died at the scene, including the shooter, who took his own life.
Another student, 14-year-old Gia Soriano, succumbed to the wounds she sustained during the incident and died on Sunday evening. The other three wounded students are still in critical condition, with one showing minor signs of improvement after surgery.
The shooter was a popular young freshman named Jaylen Fryberg. He was not a bullied kid, nor was he known have to have mental illness. In fact, he was a football player and had recently been crowned homecoming prince.
According to reports, he was upset about a romantic relationship with one of the girls he shot.
This is yet another tragic example of gun violence in America's schools, and it feels all too familiar.
How many times will we have to a read headlines about school shootings in America? When will enough to be enough? Gun rights advocates fervently defend their right to keep and bear arms, but what about a child's right to go to school without fear?
Thus, it's time for major changes. When it comes to the safety of children, politics should not dictate the direction of a nation.
There Have Been 87* School Shootings Since Sandy Hook
In December 2012, a gunman killed 20 students and 6 adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. It was one of the most shocking examples of gun violence in America's schools since the tragedy at Columbine High School in 1999. Yet, perhaps the greatest tragedy is that absolutely nothing has changed since that awful day.
Indeed, since December 2012, there have been 87* school shootings in America. Thus, the United States averages one school shooting a week.
Consequently, America's children do not feel safe when they go to school. What's more, some states have passed laws requiring schools to hold active shooter drills, in order to teach students what to do in the event of a shooting. Simply put, instead of learning how to read and write, children are training to avoid getting shot in school.
America Has The Highest Rate Of Gun Ownership In The World
There are so many guns in the United States, it's nearly impossible to count all of them. What is known, however, is that America has the highest rate of gun ownership in the world.
There are around 88 guns per 100 people in America. To put this into context, NPR highlights:
The United States had the highest rate of civilian gun ownership, at almost 90 guns per 100 people. The next two countries on the list were Switzerland and Finland, with about 45 guns per 100 people. Japan, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom had the lowest gun numbers, ranging from less than one gun per 100 in Japan to six in the U.K.
Moreover, not surprisingly, there is a significant amount of gun-related violence in the United States, particularly in comparison to other affluent nations.
More Guns Means More Death, That's A Fact
The US has the highest rate of gun homicides and deaths in the developed world, with 10 gun-related deaths per 100,000 people.
Guns kill around 32,000 people per year in the United States. This means that every single day, 90 people die from gun violence in America.
Within the United States, a wide array of empirical evidence indicates that more guns in a community leads to more homicide.
Correspondingly, there is also an astronomically high number of gun suicides in the United States, even more so than homicides.
In 2011 alone, almost 20,000 people committed suicide by firearm. Not to mention, more than half of the time, active shooter situations end with the shooter committing suicide. This was true with Sandy Hook, as well as with the recent incident at Marysville-Pilchuck.
What's more, at least 22 veterans commit suicide every single day, and 70 percent of them use guns to take their own lives.
In essence, when guns are more prevalent, so are gun violence and gun-related deaths.
Mass Shootings In The United States Have Tripled Since 2011
According to a recent report from the Harvard School of Public Health and Northeastern University, mass shootings are occurring more frequently and have tripled since 2011.
As the study notes, a public mass shooting has occurred, on average, every 172 days since 1981. Since 2011, however, they have been occurring every 64 days.
Likewise, FBI data show that active shooter incidents are becoming more frequent, with an average of 11.4 incidents per year between 2000-2013.
It's Time To Get Angry, Congress Has Passed Zero Gun Control Laws Since Sandy Hook
Following the horrific events at Sandy Hook, there was hope that the government would enact common sense laws surrounding gun control. Last year, however, Congress failed to pass a law that would have expanded background checks on firearm sales, despite the fact that 90 percent of Americans supported the legislation.
It's been almost two years since Sandy Hook, and Congress has yet to pass a single new gun law.
Hence, America's love affair with firearms has prevented any substantive changes to gun laws, and it's had devastating consequences in our society. The reality is that the United States will likely never rid itself of firearms, they are a part of the country's culture and history.
Likewise, the National Rifle Association (NRA) has a disturbing amount of influence over Congress. This is largely a product of the fact the NRA helps Members of Congress get reelected by contributing a great deal of money to their campaigns. This is a form of legal bribery, and it's making our country less just and more violent.
Unless Americans get angrier about this and mobilize, things are unlikely to change. Children should not be afraid when they go to school, but that's unfortunately the heartbreaking reality.
It feels as though we have become so accustomed to gun violence, that we've accepted it as the norm. It's time for this to stop. We need common sense changes and we need them now.
*Editor's Note: The source article that listed the number of school shootings has been adjusted from 92 to 87, the editor has adapted this article accordingly.
Photo Courtesy: Stephanie Keith