By Dylan R.N. Crabb
19 students and 2 teachers killed at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas. The gunman is 18-year-old Salvador Ramos.
“The suspect purchased two AR-15-style rifles on May 22, two days before the massacre and six days after his birthday (ABC News, 2022).”1
Acquaintances of Ramos have described him to ABC News as “a weird kid” suggesting anti-social behavior and a reputation as an outcast, a state not uncommon among younger Americans particularly males.
“The shooter was able to make entry into a classroom, barricaded himself inside that classroom, and . . . just began shooting numerous children and teachers that were in that classroom, having no regard for human life (Lt. Christopher Olivarez, Texas Department of Public Safety, 2022).”2
I am honestly desensitized to news stories like this because I have read too many of these headlines. No population that tolerates this kind of public violence every year, every month, sometimes every day, should be considered “civilized.” Will our politicians do anything about this gun violence? Probably not? Will a majority of Americans continue voting for these politicians? Probably.
There is no question that the United States of America has an issue with guns. Just by numbers alone: there are approximately 329.5 million people in the U.S. (U.S. Census, 2020)3 and the number of firearms is estimated to be over 400 million between military, police, civilians (American Gun Facts, 2022) with approximately 98% of those firearms in civilian hands.4 The simple fact that this country is saturated with firearms leads to the inevitable outcome of more crimes involving firearms.
The Gun Control Act of 1968 sets a national standard for the purchase of firearms – rifles can be purchased at 18 years of age while handguns can be purchases at 21 years of age (Shirin Ali, The Hill, 2022).5 An amending piece of legislation in 1993, the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act, federally mandated background checks from licensed firearm dealers. However, regulations (including age restrictions) vary between states (which seems to contradict the age restriction set in the Gun Control Act of 1968). Some states have a lower age limit on handguns, some states have no limits on firearm possession. Considering the age limit for alcohol purchases is set at 21 years of age I think the age limit on firearm purchases should at least match that for alcohol purchases since alcohol consumption has a tendency to make one more violent by impairing judgment and unleashing inhibitions. There also must be a consistent standard for firearm purchases and possession enforced by the national government.
1ABC News, <https://abc7.com/elementary-school-shooting-texas-shooter-salvador-ramos-uvalde-tx/11893076/>.
2National Public Radio, <https://www.npr.org/2022/05/25/1101175912/uvalde-texas-shooting-victims-4th-grade-classroom>.
3Data Commons, <https://datacommons.org/place/country/USA?utm_medium=explore&mprop=count&popt=Person&hl=en>.
4American Gun Facts, <https://americangunfacts.com/gun-ownership-statistics/#:~:text=See%20Owning%20Gun-,How%20Many%20Guns%20in%20America%3F,120%20firearms%20per%20100%20citizens.>.
5The Hill, <https://thehill.com/changing-america/resilience/smart-cities/3493244-the-legal-ages-for-buying-a-gun-in-the-us/>.