Uvalde could happen here, but it doesn’t have to

Erin’s Edit


By Erin Achenbach

Erin Achenbach

Recently, another all too familiar headline has dominated the news: 21 people, including 19 children, killed in a mass shooting at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas. And just days before that headline, another: 10 killed at a supermarket in Buffalo, New York. 

It isn’t unbelievable that the next headline could be here in South County, considering that there have already been 250 mass shootings in the U.S. this year, according to data from the Gun Violence Archive. The Congressional Research Service defines mass shootings as “multiple firearm homicide incidents involving four or more victims at one or more locations close to one another.” 

Data from The New England Journal of Medicine shows that firearm-related injuries are the leading cause of death for children and young adults, surpassing automobile accidents. The American Journal of Medicine states that in 2017, there were 144 police officers who died in the line of duty – and 2,462 school-age children killed with firearms. 

However, we don’t have to live like this, worried about where the headline will take place. The science is clear that gun control measures reduce firearm-related deaths. Take California for example: 12 percent of the U.S. population lives there, but it only has 8.5 deaths from a firearm per 100,000 people with some of the strictest gun control laws in the country. Meanwhile in Missouri, with about 3 percent of the country’s population, there are 23.9 deaths per 100,000 people from a firearm according to the Centers for Disease Control. The Gifford Law Center ranks Missouri 47 out of 50 in strong gun control laws. 

It doesn’t even have to come down to taking anyone’s firearms. Enacting background checks for private sales, more uniform federal gun laws on minimum ages to carry and making it illegal to carry a gun in public without a permit could reduce up to 11 percent of annual gun deaths, the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences reports. 

For what it is worth, open and concealed carry is legal in Missouri without a permit. And the shooter at the elementary school in Uvalde was able to legally obtain an AR-15 at the age of 18. 

Yes, not all firearms deaths are from mass shootings. But enacting gun control measures in response to mass shootings may have a ripple effect on other firearms-related deaths and could help prevent the next headline from taking place close to home.