We don't need empty thoughts and prayers. We need change.
How many times can you say, “my heart goes out to these families,” before it stops feeling genuine? Following the mass shooting at Robb Elementary in Uvalde, TX—the second deadliest school shooting in U.S. history—I asked myself this question of our senators. What will it take for them to agree on how to protect one of our nation’s most vulnerable groups?
I am a parent of two children, and each time I learn of another school shooting it shakes me to my core. The going consensus is that we cannot become numb to these incidences. But numb is what I want to feel as my disappointment in elected officials grows. If we cannot agree on anything, can we at least agree children should not take their last breaths at school?
According to data released by the CDC, firearms have surpassed car accidents as the No. 1 killer of children and adolescents. For people 1-19 years of age, “...in 2020, firearm-related injuries became the leading cause of death in that age group.”
PBS News Hour asked sitting U.S. senators, “What action, if any, do you think should be taken on guns
following the school shooting in Texas?” While not all senators responded, of those that did, the division among party lines is clear.
Gun control is heavy among democrats with the majority advocating for commonsense gun safety legislation, extensive background checks, red flags, and required gun licenses. Republicans, while a few outliers exist (also advocating for some level of gun control), primarily see mental health, increased school security, increased penalties for violent crimes and crimes committed with firearms, and funding law enforcement as the focus. Not infringing on citizens’ second amendment rights.
I had to unpack that last concern. Not infringing on citizens’ second amendment rights. U.S. gun sales do not suggest this has been, or ever will be, an issue. Since the Covid-19 pandemic, gun sales have steadily increased. Between 2019- and 2020-gun sales doubled from “an average of 1 million sold monthly in 2019 to nearly 2 million a month in 2020”.
Not surprisingly, coinciding with rising gun sales are active shootings. A 2021 active shooter report by the FBI reveals, “Active shooter incidents in 2021 increased by 52.5 percent compared with 2020 and 96.8 percent compared with 2017. 2021 witnessed the highest number of active shooter incidents for the years 2000-2021.”
As I gather my thoughts, I wonder what the end of 2022 will bring. What will be the number, and will it finally be significant enough to push congress to make changes?
Addressing the senate, Senator Chris Murphy asked, “What are we doing?” As gun-control bills amass, it unfortunately is a question echoing across the nation without a direct answer. What do we need to do? One thing for certain, and two things for sure, we do not need more empty thoughts and prayers from politicians. We need change and we need it immediately. We need all parties working to ensure death is not a concern our children will have to face in a place of learning.
About the author: About the author: Latanya Muhammad is a freelance writer and the owner of CITYS, LLC, a digital content company offering copywriting, editing, and content creation. To connect, submit all inquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org or visit @citys.llc on Instagram.