Bugs not bullets

Recent school and mass shootings lead student to alter opinion on gun control


Kristina Colburn

According to the CDC, 48,830 people died from gun-related injuries in the US during 2021.

Story by Joseph Haynes-Stewart, Editor In Chief

The number 164, without context, could be any arbitrary set of digits. It could be the quantity of crayons in a classroom or the amount of seats in a high school stadium. It could be the number of students in a graduating class or their weighted GPAs. Yet unfortunately, in the land of the free and the home of the brave, 164 represents the number of mass shootings that have happened as of April 18, 2023.

Day after day, the news breaks a story of another shooting that leaves a seat at the dinner table empty, a spouse widowed or a child asking, “Where’s mommy?” With the transfer of information almost instantly, headlines proclaiming death at the end of a barrel seem endless and near desensitizing due to their frequency. As students, teachers and society as a whole, we must ask ourselves a question: when will it stop?

Although I tend to characterize myself as more progressive, one policy that I previously claimed to be staunchly traditional on was gun control. My belief was rooted in the fact that, as the Constitution implies, we may one day need to stand against a government that would stand for us no longer. In theory, this train of thought is in no way illogical; however, in practice, we who ascribe to this train of thought are tested with every incidence.

On April 6 of this year, hundreds of high school students from all walks of life rallied at the Tennessee Capitol building to protest the inaction of the legislature to the March 27 Nashville school shooting. The students’ demands and passion burned so bright that even Representatives Gloria Johnson, Justin Jones and Justin Pearson of the Tennessee legislature moved to the front of the chamber to echo the chant “No Justice; no peace.” One would assume such an uproar would certainly lead to action, yet instead of addressing the issue, the House voted to expel Reps. Jones and Pearson.

Texarkana itself is no stranger to the gun violence depicted in different places across the nation. Individuals will ignore or even scoff at the notion of a school shooting happening to their community, yet even at TISD’s own Texas Middle School, a firearm was found on campus in April of 2023. This is not an issue we as a community can ignore.

During the time period of multiple of these shootings, congress and the current mediascape have been focused on “life or death” things such as the ability to teach about periods to developing teenagers or if drag queens are too inappropriate for children. The United States Congress has held hearings about TikTok and the data they collect rather than the epidemic of innocent civilians dying.

There have been more mass shootings than there have been days of 2023. Many would refer to this as “a sign of the times,” and I would agree to an extent. To me, this is not a sign of our society’s crumbling or political division; instead, this is more so an omen of the choice America will have to make in the not-so-distant future. This is a sign that historic change is coming, and the answer will define the legacy we leave for future generations.

Solutions to the gun control issue are some of the most hotly debated topics in the modern era. Democrats, including President Biden, have repeatedly called for a ban on assault weapons, whilst the GOP in Kentucky has approved a law that would criminalize the destruction of an assault-style weapon similar to the one used in a mass shooting in Louisville. The two sides are in a gridlock, and the only individuals losing are the Americans they represent. 

The loss of 521 children my age and younger in 2023 has challenged my beliefs and left me with a clear conclusion. To ensure a safer tomorrow, we must implement legislation regarding gun control that restricts magazine capacities or enables psychiatric evaluations before allowing individuals to own firearms. Laws like this could ultimately put an end to these devastating headlines.

In the time it took for this story to go through the editing process, I had to update the number at the beginning of the story, as 18 more mass shootings had been reported. I can no longer support a position that may lead to the death of individuals who have yet to experience the joys of life. As a society, it must be our job to ensure that our future children fear things like bugs, not bullets.