It is safe to say that people are well-aware of gun violence issues in America. I won’t be boring you with gun violence statistics within this article; the problem America faces is more than a bunch of statistics. This past week and much of the past decade and a half has been an example of the problem across America. From Columbine to present, when there are multiple shootings reported on a single day, gun violence is ever increasing it seems, getting closer and closer to all of us.
This past week I was at home, getting ready to go on a run when I got a text message from my brother. It said that there had been shots fired at a street not too far from us, a street that my family knows well. It was a house across from my brother’s friend. Knowing there was a shooter nearby, I did not go running due to not knowing if the shooter had fled the scene or not. The shooting was close enough that the helicopters overhead were quite loud. It hadn’t occurred to me several minutes earlier that the string of cop cars should have stirred concern. Within an hour, the shooter had been arrested. I turned on the news and heard that the man, Hiep Van Le, who had been arrested had gotten into a domestic dispute with his son-in-law, provoking the man to shoot both his son-in-law and even his own daughter, Dang Ngo and Sophia Le. His three grandkids were in the house at the time but they fled to safety. The son-in-law died in the front yard by the time the police arrived and his daughter died in the hospital within hours. Currently the man is being charged with two counts of murder. Soon after, my family learned that my brother is actually friends with the shooter’s grandson and lived at the house where the shooting occurred. As I was watching the news trying to learn more about the shooting that had happened less than a mile from my house, I learned of multiple other shootings that had all happened within about three hours that afternoon. Three shootings in more or less three hours with multiple people dead. I was shocked but I cannot say I was surprised. In a weird sense, it was almost normal in this American society to hear about multiple shootings in one day.
Then two days later, I was scrolling through Twitter late at night and saw that a singer had been shot after her concert. Within a few minutes, it was announced that she had died after being listed in critical condition. Christina Grimmie, a former Voice contestant, had been shot multiple times by a man as she signed autographs and met fans after her concert in Florida this past Friday, June 10. Her brother tackled the shooter but the shooter killed himself. The man had multiple weapons on him, including two guns and a large hunting knife. It seems that he was planning on killing more than just Grimmie if he had that much weaponry on him. There were over 100 people in the area that Grimmie was shot; her brother’s brave actions easily saved many people. The police are still investigating this and currently do not know what motivated the man to kill Grimmie. It does not appear that Grimmie and her killer knew each other. Although this was not the first time a shooting has happened at a concert, it was certainly shocking. Grimmie was only 22 years old and was living her dream of career of singing and songwriting. What could she possibly have done to provoke that man?
Grimmie and Ngo and his wife did not deserve to have their lives ended by others. These shootings were senseless acts, as most shootings are. They have ripped away lives of people who leave behind many loved ones. Shootings also ruin the lives of the shooter’s friends and family who often wonder what caused their loved one to carry out such a treacherous act. Whether the shooter is apprehended alive or dead, everyone who knows someone involved, is affected.
As someone who grew up in this “era” of increased gun violence, it is often a concern in the back of mind, especially when sitting in a classroom or being in a city. The number of school shootings someone my age or older can remember is significant. I am too young to remember Columbine but some of the shootings that stand out in my mind are ones like Virginia Tech, Sandy Hook and two others that have happened within the last few years. The Tech and Sandy Hook shooters both had mental illnesses and were still able to obtain guns, which is quite concerning. Another shooting that stands out is on that happened at a California university near Isla Visita where the shooter decided he would punish girls. He claimed in a video he made sitting in his car before his shooting that he wanted revenge for all of the girls who never were interested in him. He stated multiple times that being a 22 year old virgin was the reason behind his shooting. How terrifying is it, especially as a woman, that someone would kill you or others just because no one would have sex with him? I think a fair amount of women are afraid of saying “no” to a guy in fear that the man could do something like this to them.
In a sense, I believe the internet has played a role in the rise in gun violence. Whether it has become easier to obtain guns, legally or illegally, or wanting to become famous, the internet has played a part in the increase in gun violence. The amount of information on violent acts and shootings is so easy to find. There are documentaries on major shootings, especially related to Columbine which several shooters have admitted to using as an influence. There was one almost shooting about a year ago where the shooting was prevented but the shooters’ plans were released to the press. In all honesty, that is one of the stupidest things someone could do: putting shooting plans on the internet. The shooters had planned on creating a problem within the school such as a bomb or pulling the fire alarm, which would cause students and faculty to rush out of the exits, where the shooters would be able to massacre many people at once. Now, that wasn’t an original idea, as that was part of Columbine’s plan but it didn’t work there either. Putting information like that out on the internet is a terrible idea because potential shooters could see it and evolve their plan from this information. The internet also allows people to learn about the shooters, perhaps even giving the shooters a popularity within the media. Everyone knows the names Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris. Why? Because their shooting is so famous. Some shooters may use the fame Klebold and Harris obtained as a mark they want to surpass when they execute their shooting.
Gun violence is a problem in America But what will bring down gun violence? Are stricter laws really going to help? What do you think needs to be done to prevent these tragedies? Regardless of people’s gun views and whether or not they think there should be stricter gun laws, the average American should be able to recognize the problem we face. Children are accessing guns and accidentally shooting parents or siblings or even classmates. Teens and young adults are shooting classmates or girls who remind them of their mediocre or non-existent love life. Adults are shooting people they argue with or just want to feel more powerful over their victims. People are killing others solely because they have the power in their hands. They want to feel powerful and killing others allows them that feeling. Finding an answer to gun violence won’t be easy but I hope by the time my generation has kids and starts sending their kids to school, we won’t be worrying about some crazy man walking in and shooting them. I hope girls won’t be afraid to say “no” to the guy they aren’t interested for fear of being shot. Perhaps America will be able to become like other first world countries who have a much lower number of gun related incidents. It will not be easy but it needs to be done.