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Our Thoughts And Prayers Are Not Enough

Last Monday, a gunman opened fire at a grocery store in Boulder, Colorado, killing ten people and injuring one. Among those killed in the shooting are Denny Stong (20), Neven Stanisic (23), Rikki Olds (25), Tralona Bartkowiak (49), Suzanne Fountain (59), Teri Leiker (51), Boulder police Officer Eric Talley (51), Kevin Mahoney (61), Lynn Murray (62), Jody Waters (65). The suspect is Ahmad Al Aliwi Alissa, who is from Arvada, Colorado. The weapon used in the attack was an AR-15 rifle and the Alissa was wearing an armored vest during the shooting. When the suspect was taken into custody, he had “removed all of his clothing and was dressed only in shorts”. Although Alissa has lived most of his life in the United States, his family originally immigrated from Syria in 2002. According to his brother Ali Aliwi Alissa, the suspect was a victim of bullying throughout high school and suffered from mental health issues. Since 2014, during his high school years, Alissa began to feel that he was being investigated and followed by someone, causing him to become increasingly paranoid. 

The shooting in Boulder occurred less than one week following the massacre at three spas in Atlanta, Georgia. Two large-scale public massacres in less than a week have left citizens in shock and heightened the fear of gun violence among communities across America. During the past week alone, there have been seven mass shootings (four or more people shot) in the US. According to the Gun Violence Archive, there have been a total of 119 mass shootings in 2021 so far. This is a large increase compared to last year; by March 2020, there were 66 mass shootings with a total of 611 in the entire year. The rate of mass shootings has been on the rise for decades, and it is far beyond the time for our leaders to take action on securing gun control within America. 

Within the scope of developed countries, gun violence is a “uniquely American problem”. America is one of few countries that provides citizens the right to bear arms; uncoincidentally, America also possesses one of the highest rates of homicide. As shown in the graph below, the US has more than triple the number of firearm homicides than that of the second-highest nation. 

The high degree of this statistic could be due to the fact that America owns a much greater amount of guns than other developed nations. A statistic from the Small Arms Survey states that while the United States only makes up about 5% of the world population, American citizens own 45% of all privately owned firearms. The correlation between gun ownership and gun violence can be demonstrated through research from the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention: as shown in the graph below, states with higher gun ownership tend to have more gun deaths resulting from both homicide and suicide. 

Despite the amount of supporting statistics and evidence that correlate gun ownership with gun violence, there will always be those who argue for their entitlement to the Second Amendment. This constant back and forth between the two sides of the gun control debate continues to be a main source of controversy within the United States. However, with an average of one mass shooting per day in America and the tragic loss of innocent lives, “thoughts and prayers” following a massacre are not enough to prevent shootings from happening. In order to reduce the horrific death toll from gun violence, it is imperative for our country’s political leaders to make a change.

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