By Amanda Coppa & Lauren McGowan
This past Friday, June 10th, former voice singer Christina Grimmie was shot and killed by Kevin James Loibl while signing autographs after her performance in Orlando, Florida. Tragedy struck the city a day later when Omar Mateen killed 49 people and injured 53 at a gay nightclub, in the deadliest mass shooting in American history. While the country mourned the events in Orlando, the West Coast feared for their own safety after James Wesley Howell was arrested with a trunk full of assault rifles and explosive chemicals. Howell was pulled over on his way to the Los Angeles gay pride event, one of their biggest events of the year.
Sadly, these were not the only tragedies this past weekend. On Saturday, while the world was talking about Orlando, 29-year-old Jessica White, a mother of three young children, was killed in the Bronx of New York City after an unidentified man open fired into a playground. This story largely went unnoticed because for many, a shooting of one is common in the newspaper.
Recently, many people kicked off their summer with celebrations for Memorial Day, but while people were celebrating, America had nine shootings. In Houston, Texas, Dionisio Garza III, a military veteran, killed a 56-year-old after firing off more than 200 rounds. Deputies, bystanders, and an innocent man were killed before a SWAT team gunned down the shooter. Six people were injured in Trenton, New Jersey on their way to a cookout when one gun-man took fire at them. Four more innocent people were injured in Indianapolis when a shooter took fire in a parking garage. Nine other individuals were injured in a shooting in both Las Vegas and Zillah, Washington. Memorial Day weekend was followed with shootings in Baltimore, Maryland, Sacramento, California, Fort Wayne, Indiana, and the streets of Chicago. Many of these shootings went unnoticed by the public because they were not headline news.
The United States is sadly notorious for gun violence. In accordance to the Gun Violence Archive, 36 Americans are killed by guns every single day and that number is excluding those who take their own lives. Since Columbine in 1999, there have been 31 school shootings in the U.S., according to ABC news reports. And, in 2016 alone, there have been 133 mass shootings in the United States. Moreover, 2016 is not an outlier - in 2015 out of 336 days, there were 355 mass shootings.
The numbers are certainly staggering. Gun violence has become part of the American culture. A shooting is no longer seen as a rarity, but rather as a regularity. In the United States, gun control has become a deeply controversial and political issue requiring not only a change in legislation, but also a shift in culture to make any control possible. Mateen, who carried out the Orlando attack, was able to purchase an assault rifle, legally, despite the FBI interviewing him twice in the past 3 years with possible ties to terrorist groups. There must be a reform for stronger gun ownership regulation in addition to the regulation laws created for the use of illegal weapons. There are many organizations, in particular the National Rifle Association (NRA), who bitterly defends the 2nd Amendment. Their lobbyists create struggles for reform because they make it difficult to get disarmament laws passed through Congress.
Events like those in Orlando remind us that gun violence in America is a pervasive issue. Government officials represent our society but that does not mean that they are the sole bringers of change. Whether as an individual citizen or member of civil society, we each have a responsibility to combat gun violence in our communities. Realizing that gun violence has become part of our culture, is the first step in creating reforms.
"2016." Gun Violence Archive. Accessed June 13, 2016. http://www.gunviolencearchive.org/.
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Hay, Mark. "America Marked Memorial Day Weekend with a Deluge of Mass Shootings | VICE | United States." VICE. June 3, 2016.
Keith, Ross, and Ben Kochman. "Bronx Mother of Three Gunned down Protecting Her Kids during Park Shooting." Daily News - New York, June 12, 2016.
Shen, Aviva. "A Timeline Of Mass Shootings In The US Since Columbine." ThinkProgress RSS. 2012. Accessed June 13, 2016.