More Guns Wrong Answer to Mass Shootings

Ava Charlesworth, Staff Writer

A violent hate crime claimed the lives of 11 people in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on October 27. The attack is another sad reminder of the state of our country, and how desperately stricter laws on gun ownership are needed.

The plague of mass shootings in the United State’s arguably began in 1999 when 2 students opened fire at Columbine High School.  The trend has risen since 2006-07, according to a study published in The Villanova, a student newspaper.

At the time of the Columbine attack, the event was shocking, incomprehensible, and heartbreaking. In Congress, the Senate narrowly approved increased background checks, but the bill failed to pass through the House. In the presidential election in 2000, nominee Al Gore embraced stricter gun control in his election campaign, which many believe cost him the presidency.

Then in 2007, a lone gunman shot 49 people, killing 32, at the Virginia Tech University, making it the deadliest school shooting in U.S. history. Once again, a bill that would increase background checks circulated through Congress, this time passing, but by a narrow margin.

Sandy Hook. Orlando. Las Vegas. Parkland. The list goes on.

While the shootings listed above are some of the most horrific, hundreds of other shootings have occurred since Columbine.  According to The Washington Post, in 2018 alone 56 people in the U.S. were killed in a mass shooting, defined as an event in which 4 or more people were killed by gunfire, not including gang-related shootings or robberies.

Ultimately, it all boils down to a revolving door that is sweeping the nation: shooting occurs, national outcry of support, sudden and short-lived push for stricter gun control legislation, give up and move on. While the most recent push following the Parkland massacre was strong, sadly, the cycle has continued.

On Saturday morning in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, a peaceful temple service at the Tree of Life synagogue was interrupted by a gunman slinging an AR-15 assault rifle and 3 handguns as he shouted anti-Semitic slurs, killing 11 and injuring at least 6 others.

According to, a total of 49 rifles have been used in 41 mass shootings between 1982 and 2017. But no ban on rifles has been implemented. The shooting that occurred Saturday remains 1 more disgusting act of terror that could have, and should have, been prevented.

To be clear: I have never been against the constitutional right of Americans to own guns because we should have the right to protect ourselves and our families. Survivors of assault claim to feel safer when carrying, and I do not reject the notion that guns can be used for protection and self-defense.

Similarly, guns are still used recreationally throughout the country, especially in southern and rural communities. Hunting and shooting sports, though we may not see much of these activities in the Bay Area, are popular pastimes across the nation.

But we need to draw the line somewhere. The ownership of semi-automatic assault rifles, which can be credited for some, if not most, of the deadliest mass shootings in our country, are too loosely available for ownership. And for what? I personally wouldn’t reach for an AR-15 stashed in my closet if I woke up at night to an intruder, and most hunters prefer shotguns for sport and recreation.

Additionally, “bump-stocks”, which allow for rapid fire, have no place circulating the gun markets.

While I am not naive enough to believe that mass shootings will cease with a ban on assault rifles, I do believe the number of deaths will surely drop dramatically. If a gunman is wielding a smaller or “slower” gun, he would be much easier to stop.

At the very least, the key to ending the violence and tragedy in this country is not more guns, as President Trump suggested when he claimed an armed guard placed in the temple would have resulted in a different outcome. The president is missing the point: no place of worship, learning, or recreation should need armed guards.

What the country needs more than ever is stricter regulations on semi-automatic assault rifles and more thorough background checks.

An attack can sadly occur at any place and to anyone. It is up to us to take action.

On a more hopeful note, in the wake of Parkland, student activism is on the rise. If you are eligible to vote on November 6, educate yourself and vote for candidates who will work to protect our communities and students by strengthening gun laws. If you are under 18, research candidates and encourage your parents, siblings, and extended family to vote.

Call your senators and representatives and urge them to vote for gun restrictions.