We needed gun control a long time ago

This week’s mass shooting is just another reminder

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Collegian File Photo

By Zach Boisvert, Collegian Contributor

Devastation. Anger. Frustration. Lament.

These are all feelings felt around the country following the news of yet another fatal mass shooting. On April 3, 2022, six people were killed and 12 more were injured after multiple rounds were fired in Sacramento, California. Now in the wake of another mass shooting, calls for gun control and legislative change have grown louder. The problem is: gun control should already be in place.

Though most people are familiar with the Sandy Hook tragedy, it still shakes us to the core today. On Dec. 14, 2012, now nine years ago, a 20-year-old gunman entered Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut at approximately 9:35 a.m. In the five minutes between opening fire and taking his own life, the gunman killed 20 students between ages six and seven, as well as six adults.

At the time, Sandy Hook was the deadliest school shooting since the infamous Columbine massacre in 1999. Immediately following the events of Sandy Hook, lawmakers were urged to enact restrictive gun legislation to prevent future shootings. However, little action was taken to curb gun violence, and more innocent lives have been stolen in the nine years since.

According to an article published by the Washington Post, nearly 278,000 students have been exposed to gun violence since the Columbine tragedy. Since the Sandy Hook massacre, shootings have gotten even worse, particularly in the years 2014, 2018 and 2021.

A similar piece published by security.org tracks school shootings since Columbine, demonstrating that in the time between Sandy Hook and mid-2019, approximately 127 elementary, middle, high school and college students and educators have been killed at school. With the greater influx of shootings in recent years, combined with little to no restrictions regarding the sale and distribution of firearms, I fear that gun-related deaths in schools will not subside.

Calls for change to gun policy are not new. In 2013, the University of Massachusetts conducted a poll that surveyed 800 Americans on their thoughts about gun control, immigration and minimum wage. Regarding gun control, it was reported that “53 percent of Americans supported an assault weapons ban.” When respondents were shown a picture of an AR-15, that figure increased to 57 percent.

I call on lawmakers to answer how the Sandy Hook tragedy was not reason enough to continue protecting the lives of children and others. Wouldn’t the thought of innocent children dying upset you, sadden you? After all, a common theme in politics is “wanting to make a better future for the kids.” At the rate we are going with gun control policy, that future looks very grim.

No matter what side of the aisle you’re on, gun control should not be a politicized issue. Every time I hear of another school shooting, my stomach drops. Active shooter drills in school have become commonplace. Considering most of our legislators belong to older generations, I doubt they had to become as antiquated with gun safety practices growing up. I wonder what it’s like to have grown up not having to learn to hide out of eyesight from a classroom door, to duck under desks and to barricade an entrance. And today, as long as it’s not their own children or grandchildren, thoughts and prayers should suffice plenty.

I’m tired of seeing tweets and texts saying, “thoughts and prayers.” I’m tired of the empty promises being made to keep our minds at ease. But what I’m most tired of is watching numerous members of my generation, the generation that is supposedly going to have a “bright future,” end up in caskets. Sandy Hook was one of the most tragic events in modern American history. We owe it to those who passed in that tragedy, as well as everyone who followed them, to make change and push for better gun control.

Zach Boisvert can be reached at [email protected]