Reality rules: gun violence in modern America


As mass shootings become increasingly commonplace in America, so too, have debates and concerns surrounding gun control. And yet, in our quest to balance safety and freedom, we’ve become obsessed with the guns themselves, and we’ve forgotten how to connect with the most important part of this crisis– ourselves. Infographic by: Mia Gorlick

Mia Gorlick, Contributor

Written May 9, 2023

Published May 11, 2023


129 days. 208 mass shootings. On average, the United States has seen more than one shooting per day, more than one daily event involving a gun in the hands of an unfit individual. We do not often hear about mass stabbings or mass poisonings. This points to the overwhelming reality that guns—though not inherently evil—play a key role in the horrifying epidemic of mass violence overtaking America.

In 2022, the National Gun Archive counted 647 mass shootings. 21 of them involved five or more fatalities. Figures for 2023 are hardly accessible as mass shootings continue to occur on a near-daily basis.

Opponents of increased gun control frequently argue that the Second Amendment protects their right to carry a gun: “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

However, it is important to understand context before misapplying verbiage in order to promote an unrelated cause. A militia, according to Oxford Languages, is “a military force that is raised from the civil population to supplement a regular army in an emergency.” 

If the language of the Second Amendment is to be analyzed literally, the right to a gun applies to members of a militia, a supplementary civilian army force entrusted with defending the State. Few modern Americans retain this title. 

Even if the language is to be interpreted loosely, the reality remains that the context in which this amendment was drafted is widely different from the world in which we now live. The U.S. military is a global powerhouse. The onus of ensuring the safety of the nation does not lie with civilians. The nation is not currently engaged in a war that directly threatens domestic safety. The mysterious American frontier and the colonial lifestyle of hunting and daily warfare have become symbols rather than reality. 

In 1791, the year in which the Bill of Rights was drafted, automatic and semiautomatic assault rifles did not exist. The capacity to kill dozens in seconds was not realized with the machine gun until more than a century later, during World War I.

Thus, when the Founding Fathers drafted this amendment, its intended application was self and national preservation. We are moving further and further in the direction of destruction.

A right should not be infringed upon, until exercising that right infringes upon the rights of others. The line is drawn when wielding a military-grade weapon deprives people of their fundamental right to Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.

Some might argue that it is the mentally unstable people who kill, not the guns that they use. Why, then, do we resist measures to increase security protocols for those who wish to purchase a firearm? If the people wielding these weapons are truly so dangerous without the gun, why, then, are mass stabbings and poisonings not equally commonplace? If a gun is immaterial, why do the vast majority of mass violence incidents involve one?

The answer is this: guns—specifically their lack of regulation—play a major role in the depressing and frightening trends we are witnessing in real time. Advocating on behalf of gun control does not deprive people of their rights, but rather, helps protect the fundamental rights of everybody. Reforming current gun laws does not mean eliminating guns altogether; it merely helps ensure that only those of sound mind can possess them. 

Denying our present reality does not move us forward, and ignorance is not bliss but rather assured destruction.

Schools have become targets of gun violence, and the trends reaffirm that this will be our future if we do not affect change in the present. We should prepare for the worst, but also acknowledge that we have the power to shape an environment and culture that fosters the best. If we truly want to hold true to our beautiful ideal of making each day well-lived, we must begin by ceasing to rely on technicalities in verbiage from the past. We must acknowledge that this ever-changing world requires adaptation, and that our laws and language evolve to meet the times. Seizing each day requires us to learn from the past, and modify it to meet our present needs and equip ourselves for the future.

We must acknowledge reality. The case of gun control is on trial, and the 210 mass shootings in 131 days is our smoking gun.