ENOUGH: It is time to take a stand against gun violence


This map reflects the 8,294 lives lost to gun violence in 2023 (according to gunviolencearchive.org)

The Editorial Board

10:14 a.m. Independence Day, 2022. 

The day began with excitement and anticipation for the annual Fourth of July parade in Highland Park, Illinois. That was until, 14 minutes into the parade, 83 gunshots rained down into the packed streets of downtown Highland Park, transforming celebratory cheers into screams of terror. A holiday commemorating the birth of American independence became a day of mourning as seven were killed and 48 were wounded, Victoria Kim and Amanda Holpuch reported for The New York Times. 

The Highland Park shooting is not an exception, but instead, a norm in our nation’s culture; as of March 13, 109 mass shootings have occurred and 8,294 people have died due to gun violence since Jan. 1, according to gunviolencearchive.org. 

Though income inequality, grief, and mental illness are contributing factors linked to gun violence, David Hemenway, a Professor of Health Policy at Harvard University, credited easy access to firearms as the primary driver of American gun violence in an interview with Harvard Magazine. The number of gun-related murders has climbed 75 percent over the past 10 years, which has led to an increased amount of traumatized people with easy access to guns resorting to gun violence as a coping mechanism, Hemenway explained.

“There are major problems caused by gun violence because of trauma,” Hemenway said. “The evidence is overwhelming now that people exposed to trauma get traumatized, and hurt people hurt people.” 

The Oracle Editorial Board urges awareness of the growing national gun violence epidemic and encourages those in the South community eligible to vote to support state legislators with strict gun control policies. 

Hemenway emphasized that the issue has become greatly polarized between the Republican and Democratic political parties, resulting in very little progress being made toward lessening gun violence.

“For the last 20 years, because of the gun lobby’s control over the Republican party, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has done zero work about guns [and conducted] no research,” Hemenway said. “They are afraid to even say the word ‘guns’ in public meetings.”

To establish stricter legislation, Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker signed the Protect Illinois Communities Act banning assault weapons, high-capacity magazines, and switches (which convert legal handguns into assault weapons)  in Illinois, according to a press release from the governor’s office on Jan. 10. 

“Every time a mass shooting occurs, it serves as a stark reminder that our gun laws fall short of the rigorous standards that feel like common sense to most Americans,” Pritzker said in a statement to The New York Times.

Stephanie Chao, Assistant Professor of Surgery at Stanford University, emphasized that strict state gun laws have a direct link in lessening gun violence. States with lenient gun laws had nearly twice the youth firearm mortality rate than states with strict gun laws, Chao explained.

“What states do at the state level really does have an impact,” Chao said. “If you put more regulations on firearms, it does end up saving children’s lives.”

Though no school shootings have occurred at South, gun violence has infiltrated our daily lives and school system. Spring Drill Day occurred on March 15, when the entire school practiced a lockdown drill in the event of a potential threat, such as an active shooter opening fire in the school. The threat of gun violence is no longer an “if” but instead a “when”, demonstrating the severity of gun violence in our community.

With the rise of mass shootings across the nation, many grassroots organizations have formed to promote accountability regarding gun control. Moms Demand Action was founded following the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown, Connecticut to prioritize the prevention of mass shootings and create a culture of responsible gun ownership, according to their mission statement on momsdemandaction.org.

“Progress isn’t just about passing laws—it’s about changing our culture,” momsdemandaction.org stated. “Gun violence is an issue that concerns every American.”

The Oracle Editorial Board implores South’s community to engage in activism for gun control and fight to reestablish safety in our country.

Gun violence threatens our most fundamental human right: the right to life. Become educated on how gun violence can impact our community, join activist groups, and vote. Gun violence is a threat that will not end unless everyone chooses to stand up for themselves and others, Hemenway emphasized.

“Rather than blaming, blaming, blaming, let’s figure out ways to get together and reduce the death rate and the wounding rate,” Hemenway said. “This is a major American problem that cannot be ignored. This affects all of us.”