School shootings have become commonplace. They have averaged a little more than one a week since the beginning of 2018, 21 in total. Often the suggested remedy to such unspeakable violence is more funding for mental health services, greater security, and a common gun registry. When compared with other developed nations our spending on mental health services seems on par, tighter security has become commonplace in light of terrorist threats, and most countries have a way to track gun ownership. However, the one thing that does stands out for the United States is the shear amount of guns. Although the US represents only 4.5 percent of the world’s population, we possess 42 percent of all the world’s firearms, and this number may be understated.
Although access to firearms is controlled to some extent, the number of guns held by US residents makes access to firearms relatively easy. As with the recent shooting in Santa Fe, Texas, the guns were acquired legally by the gunman’s father. Arming school personnel, having increased security, and limiting access to guns for certain types of people will not address the fact that firearms are plentiful and easily accessed. Once again, in Texas this last week many suggestions were made regarding how to end gun violence without anyone mentioning the obvious remedy and that is to eliminate the guns. The failure to call out the real cause of the problem while enumerating failed solutions is disingenuous.
Given the vulnerability of the children we serve at Hillsides and their exposure to violence, in some instances gun violence, we can not be silent in the face of the gun violence epidemic that plagues us. We raise our voice not only because those we serve are affected by mental illness and are susceptible to being victims of gun-related violence. Rather we speak out because the mere threat of being shot is eroding the sense of safety and wellbeing that is a fundamental right in our security. As is stated by so many directly affected by such shootings, to live in such fear and trepidation is unacceptable. To justify our need to possess firearms as a constitutional right without acknowledging the abuse of that right is threatening the intent of the second amendment and points to how short sighted we have become as a nation.
A day of reckoning is coming. A generation of children and their families, directly impacted by such horror, will insist that we move beyond rhetoric and bring about common sense reforms to this issue of gun control.
Enough is enough. It is time to demand that those entrusted with our safety and wellbeing either act in our best interest or step aside and yield to those who will. Courageous action is required to keep our children safe, our schools welcoming places of learning, and our communities free of paranoia and suspicion.