School shootings become more of a reality

Alara Stewart, Editor

The safety of our schools and community are once again being threatened by gun violence. Although gun violence has become such a big part of American society and even affiliated with our culture, it’s still shocking and horrifying when we hear about a school shooting that has happened within our city. The American “hoorah” and dominance of nationalism is quite honestly ironic when thought about because not only are we celebrating America for our freedom of speech and so called democracy, but we’re also celebrating and promoting the sales of firearms to teenagers and people that are ill intended. 

Let’s not cover up America’s problems with our abundant freedoms when in reality they’ve proven to be harmful and deadly. This is not a debate between political parties, this is not a matter of personal freedoms, this is about the lives that have been lost to gun violence, and how we as a society must solve this issue at its root; gun control and mental health. 

As of right now, any person at the age of 18 years or older is allowed to purchase a gun in Missouri without a background check or a permit. The question is, why are the legal age restrictions to drink, smoke, or purchase and handle marijuana 21, but a teenager has the right to buy a deadly weapon? This argument is also used when discussing the age at which a person can join the U.S. Military, because it seems awfully contradicting if we’re more concerned about the recreational use of drugs and alcohol compared to the possibility of immediate death and trauma that is inflicted by firearms and violence. 

With the recent school shooting that took place at Central VPA High School, student Alexzandria Bell and teacher Jean Kuczka were killed and several others injured. Orlando Harris, a 19 year old graduate of CVPA was found carrying about 30 round rifle magazines and an AR-15 rifle, a semiautomatic gun that is used in sporting events and hunting. These guns are designed to shoot fast bullets, about three times as fast as a handgun, so that the shooter can hit its target while being less accurate. The ammunition speed is so fast that it sends shock waves through the body and either kills or damages tissue; this is called cavitation effect. AR-15 rifles are frequently used in mass shootings and cause a significant more amount of damage than the average handgun. Banning this gun would be a more feasible and achievable first step in dismantling the sale of dangerous guns to dangerous people. 

In some states a background check is required, although Missouri doesn’t require it, these background checks don’t do nearly enough to prevent sales to harmful people as they primarily ask whether the person has been convicted of a felony, been in possession of illegal substances or have been committed to a mental hospital/ diagnosed with a mental health disorder. Even if this background check was required in Missouri the only thing it would prevent is the purchase of firearms to felons and people with obvious mental health issues. A majority of the time, people go undiagnosed with mental health disorders due to a lack of resources or just the stigma surrounding mental health. It’s impossible to ban the usage of all guns to the general public when we live in such a divided country, however it is possible to increase restrictions like mandating background checks in every state and mental health evaluations that are administered by professionals, increasing the age restrictions to 21 years or older and requiring permits to carry a gun out in public. All of which will ignite controversy, but protect the lives of children in schools, people shopping at local grocery stores or people living their day to day lives that have been plagued by gun violence. 

There is no excuse, regardless of the shooter’s mental state, well being or intention; that person should have never been in possession of a gun and should be allowed access to proper mental health facilities and resources. By stigmatizing mental health and increasing healthcare costs as if healthcare is not a necessity, America is creating a dangerous society. If the government was to enforce stricter gun laws, background checks and make mental health services more accessible, then America can say that they’re in fact dismantling gun violence.