Brankin: Something needs to change

How many people need to die before major gun reform happens?


by Tara Brankin

As I was finishing my column for this week, I woke up Friday morning to see that eight people had died following a mass shooting in Indianapolis. The shooting, which left several people injured, occurred at a FedEx facility. The shooter, a 19-year-old man who was employed by FedEx in 2020, died by apparent suicide. Reading this news, I nearly punched my computer. I am struggling to remain levelheaded while continuing to write this column.

Like many political issues in America, gun control has been highly contested and controversial for a long time, certainly since I have been alive. But after the shootings in Indianapolis, in Atlanta and in Boulder, Colorado, I think it is apparent that legislators need to make legitimate, legal changes to prevent more deaths.

Critics of gun regulation often push the narrative that we should be punishing the people who pulled the trigger, not focusing on regulation. While it is obvious that mass shooters must be held accountable for the lives they took, I think that it is naive to believe that current gun laws — or lack thereof — are not also part of the problem.

Since eight people were killed in Atlanta on March 16, there have been at least 45 mass shootings in the U.S. This number is staggering, and I was honestly shocked while researching to see just how high the number of mass shootings within the past month is. For clarification, a shooting is characterized as a mass shooting when four or more people are shot, wounded or killed.

The first mass shooting I vividly remember was the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in 2012. I was in sixth grade, and even though I knew virtually nothing about gun laws, I thought that a massive change would occur when it came to who was able to own guns. After all, 26 students and teachers were massacred in cold blood while at school. The tragic deaths of 20 children would make legislatures wake up to the problematic nature of current gun laws, right?

Following the Parkland shooting in 2018, the House of Representatives passed two gun control measures. The first aimed to extend background checks to the private sales of guns, and the second aimed to extend the time limit of background checks. Both of these measures, however, were crushed by the Senate.

It is true that the Constitution of the United States permits people to own guns, but more than 12,000 people have been killed as a result of gun violence in 2021 alone, per the Gun Violence Archive. It is paramount that more regulation occurs when it comes to who can own a gun. There needs to be a more rigorous and intense psychological evaluation of individuals who want to receive their gun licenses, and I don’t think that a person should be able to keep assault weapons in their house, even with a license. I am aware that some think that would impede their constitutional rights, but with the number of innocent lives that have been taken by people using these weapons, I think it is obvious that drastic change needs to be made.