Open wounds

Gun Violence in America


Carla Roby, Managing Editor

The United States constitution states in the second amendment: “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.” In recent decades, the true meaning of that statement has been questioned.

“When our founding fathers penned the second amendment, the type of guns that they were thinking about were not the type of guns we have today,” said AP Government and Politics teacher Jennifer Mechling.

There is no question that gun violence and gun related deaths are increasing. According to the Everytown for Gun Safety Support Fund, gun homicide in the U.S. has increased 70% since 2011. The gun violence archive states that there were 634 deaths due to mass shootings in 2022 and over 2,000 gun related deaths in the United States alone. Not only does gun violence cost lives, it also costs money. According to the  Everytown for Gun Safety Support Fund gun violence costs the U.S. $557.2 billion each year.

With the rise of gun violence, debates about firearms shadow every political campaign. 

Some like, senior Grant Gaffney, believe that “Homicides are going to happen regardless

 [of gun laws].” Others believe that new laws are needed to prevent the continued rise of gun related deaths.

“It [gun ownership] is meant to be an individual right,” said Mechling. “And I feel like the majority of Americans understand that and even the majority of gun owners are responsible gun owners, but there is a small minority that misunderstand it and abuse the second amendment.” 

That minority has caused us to live in a world where people now consider their exits when shopping at a Walmart (Chesapeake Walmart mass shooting), getting a pizza (Virginia reporter Sierra Jenkins killed in shooting in Norfolk), or even sitting in a class at school (Newport News shooting). 

According to Security officer Ernest Whitehead we’re seeing “security in schools as a really big focus point for safety nationwide.”

Gun control laws have tightened in recent years in Virginia. According to The New York Times, “policies passed in 2020 [in Virginia] included universal background checks, reporting requirements for lost or stolen firearms, a limit of one handgun purchase per month for most people, and a red-flag law.”  The question many are asking is “Is it enough?” The debate over gun control continues to rage in our country. 

“I think that while many adults do care about gun control and care about students’ opinions about guns, listening isn’t enough,” said senior Mona Hosseini. “If policymakers aren’t actively making laws to protect us it doesn’t matter.” 

We live in a world where many students cannot imagine a life without exit strategies, locked doors, and lock-down drills; a way of living only the older generation remembers. 

“When I started teaching in the 90s, it [gun violence] wasn’t on my radar at all,” said Mechling.

This may be a big reason why it’s so hard for big changes to be made. Current leaders don’t have a full grasp on how much today’s youth are affected by gun violence. 

“It’s difficult to hear about people dying every other day and to know that no one is doing anything about it. It makes it hard to feel safe,” said Hosseini.

So while this topic is debated in classrooms, at dinner tables, and on the floor of Congress people all across the country are left with open wounds both physically and psychologically.