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Freedom Takes a Toll: The Landscape of Gun Violence in the United States

Bi-weekly, breaking news covering the mass shooting stir rage across the United States. The vigils would ensue a few days later, and public forums would get crowded with tens of thousands of people, commemorating the once-loved ones who died from the mass shooting. Typically a day after a carnage, the U.S. president would release the statement, calling for the lawmakers' effort to take action regarding the country’s longstanding issue –gun control. 


On April 11, the newsrooms were busy reporting on the Louisville, Ky., mass shooting, a devastating incident that left five casualties with nine injured. The assailant, Connor Sturgeon, is a 25-year-old man who worked at the Old National Bank, a site later he would spray bullets and be taken down by the dispatched officer. Sturgeon perpetrated the mass shooting shortly after receiving a notice of layoff,  although the motive remains unanswered as of April 13.


It is noteworthy that acquaintances of Mr. Sturgeon would never imagine him committing such a devastating crime, even as the news outlet was quick to paint the assailant as a regular guy who was involved in a sports team in high school and graduated from the University of Alabama, seemingly a person who has gone through the typical phases a lot of Americans have. In essence, the implication of the Louisville mass shooting brings the universal background check into question, which has long been deemed a resolution to tackle the recurrence of a mass shooting if regulated on a federal level.  


At this point, such a devastating incident no longer comes as a surprise; it wasn’t long after the rampage in Nashville, Ten., which took place nearly at the end of March, where the incident resulted in nine casualties, including three kids at the age of 9. Put all together, such a catastrophic incident is coming up across the nation at least bi-weekly, and it’s frustrating yet harrowing that somewhere around the U.S., it will most likely be put in the spotlight for several loved ones' death shot by another perpetrator.


Gun violence has long been an unraveled agenda that abetted political polarization at the cost of tens of thousands of casualties per year.  In 2022, Firearm-related homicides were recorded at 20,253, a slight curve from the previous year, in which 21,030 victims passed away due to gun violence. Although, for the past few years, the nation has seen a rise in gun violence at an alarming rate, as can be seen in the homicide cases in 2019, where firearm-related casualties were recorded at 15,510, according to the Gun Violence Archive, a nonprofit organization that catalogs every gun-related incident. So far, 2023 saw 12,014 gun-related deaths, with 75 of the age below 11 taken into account. Hundred-eleven law enforcement officials were either killed or injured in response to the report, with the dispatched officer in the Louisville incident being shot a week after finishing his training session. 


The United States is the second-highest in total gun deaths, following Brazil. The total number of gun deaths includes suicidal cases, which have long outweighed the homicide cases. It is not an exaggeration that the government is –to some degree –indifferent to preventing American citizens from killing others or themselves. 


However, legislative action to undercut mass shootings is more complicated than any other social agenda. Due to the explicit statute clarified in the Second Amendment, the people in America bears a right to be armed to keep the government in check from breaching one’s freedom. The right to bear arms has long been a measure of balancing the power dynamic between the federal government and individuals, which, in turn, can partially be credited for building up the most freedom-guaranteed society globally. Due to the presence of the Second Amendment, individuals have been capable of voicing for themselves whenever the government’s exceeding intrusion rises. 


Because 97% of the land in the U.S. is a rural area where the jurisdictional boundaries go vague, residents who live in such areas are susceptible to potential crime. The rationale amongst the pro-gun activists is that individuals should be equipped with means to protect themselves from external inflictions. For example, let’s say the burglary occurred in Lago, Texas, a town populated with only 469 residents. It is already too late to wait for the officer's presence, which may take up to 30 to 40 minutes to sort out and investigate the crime scene, and because of that, the residents should be able to own a tool to defend themselves in case of the suspect show up armed. Consequently, one of the claims in favor of allowing individuals to be armed comes down to a statement: Who’s going to protect the family, the property that I own, and most importantly, myself? I am the only one who can.


The political stake is also high surrounding the gun control issue, with a gigantic nonprofit organization such as the National Rifle Association (NRA) funding and giving full support for the GOP. Advocating for gun control –from the Republican’s viewpoint–imposes a significant shrink in loyal party supporters who have long adhered to the party for its solid stance of upholding the Second Amendment. Besides, the gun is representative of America that dates back to the country’s Colonial era, in which the descendants of the Mayflower fought against Great Britain and eventually brought independence to home.


It is one side of the American identity, rooted in the culture, that one would be proud to brag about as an American. However, it has become too apparent that due to the country’s identity, tens of thousands of innocent Americans are deprived of lives. The voice urging the legislative work is unprecedented in response to carnage. The more the legislative work procrastinates, the more the nation will see innocent victims who are the loved ones of those friends, colleagues, partners, and families.

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Tags: #massshooting #gunviolence #guncontrol #louisville secondamendment


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