The Urgency of Gun Reform



FILE – In this Oct. 29, 2018 file photo, a makeshift memorial stands outside the Tree of Life Synagogue in the aftermath of a deadly shooting at the in Pittsburgh. Organizers have strived to offer emotional support during the second anniversary commemorations. One-on-one counseling will be offered virtually, and there’s a tent set up near the synagogue where people can access in-person support from humans and comfort dogs. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File)

Pearl Lee, Contributor

“Mom there’s a shooting. At school. Help.” No parent should ever have to receive this message, and no student should ever have to experience this. Sadly, this situation has become a reality for students across the country every year. Guns on school grounds are at a record high this year. In September alone, the Center for Homeland Defense and Security recorded 55 incidents of gunfire on school grounds. When compared to previous years’ levels of 14 incidents in 2019 and 24 in 2020, this dramatic increase deserves a closer look.

It has been 3 years since our community was shaken by the Tree of Life tragedy and I still feel it everyday when I ride to and from school. The gun violence epidemic has not gotten any better, and I am getting impatient with the frequency of mass shootings and other acts of gun violence in our country.

Gun violence takes the lives of over 100 people each day, which means that more than 38,000 people are killed every year. 2⁄3 of all gun deaths in the U.S. are suicides, and access to a gun triples the risk of death by suicide. The other 1⁄3 is mostly homicides, with the gun homicide rate in the U.S. is 25 times higher than the gun homicide rate in other high-income countries. Despite only making up around 4% of the world’s population, Americans own approximately 46% of the world’s guns. This means there are about 120.5 guns per 100 residents not including guns owned by law enforcement and the military. I can go on and on.

For years the gun lobby has used the 27 words of the 2nd Amendment to assert the right to gun ownership. But what about the basic right to live without fear of dying from or being directly impacted by gun violence? Was the 2nd Amendment meant to upend this basic right? Instead of treating the 2nd Amendment as an immovable obstacle, we need gun laws to protect our schools, synagogues, and workplaces, and allow us all to share the right to live without fear.

We cannot afford to be cynical based on the historical lack of progress and political stalemates. No matter what your political views are, this is obviously a problem that is not going to go away by doing nothing. Pretending that the current system works will only doom us to more lost lives and shattered families.