Drastic times call for drastic measures: America’s mass shooting problem


Woman holding up a sign that says, “how many more lives will it take?” Photo taken April 18, 2021 by Katie Godowski – Pexels.

We are just three months into the new year, and there have already been over 80 mass shootings in the U.S. This is America in 2023. 

Consequently, we have become uncomfortably familiar with feelings of devastation and heartbreak. As the regularity of mass shootings continues, our compassion, empathy, shock and sadness decrease tremendously. The first time something awful happens it hurts a lot but if we are continuously exposed to the same pain repeatedly, we become desensitized. 

Over time the number of mass shootings, the number of lives lost, the cities, the names, the faces all seem to mesh together. We are normalizing something so abnormal. Human life isn’t just another statistic or headline in a news story. These are real people with real lives and purposes, dying daily from mass shootings. 

Mass shootings in the U.S. have long been on an upward trend. In 2022, there were 647 mass shootings compared to 348 just five years prior. It’s devastating and tragic to hear about yet another mass shooting, but the U.S. government isn’t doing what needs to be done to stop this pattern.  

Due to the rapid-fire rate of semi-automatic weapons — 45-60 rounds per minute — and the ability to inflict maximum destruction on the human body, semi-automatic guns are the most popular choice for mass shooters. 

Handguns are used in about 78% of mass shootings and the vast majority of handguns are semi-automatic. It’s been the most commonly used weapon in mass shootings since 1982. 

Most guns used in mass shootings are obtained legally. Therefore, the concerning amount of mass shootings is due to the lack of governmental gun regulations that make buying a semi-automatic gun ridiculously easy. 

According to Pew Research Center, the top three reasons Americans own guns are for “personal safety/protection, hunting and sport shooting.” 

Those that use guns for hunting do not need semi-automatic guns. Hunters don’t even need guns in general, as most animals can be taken out with a bow. However, for the sake of argument, if a hunter wants to use a gun for hunting they should only use non-semi-automatic weapons.

There is no good argument for the use of semi-automatic guns for hunting. According to Notes From a Savvy Hunter, “those who use firearms for hunting do not choose assault-style, semi-automatic weapons, due to their inherent inaccuracy.” 

“The 5.56x45mm cartridge and the corresponding semi-automatic guns used to shoot it, are designed specifically for killing humans, and are inappropriate and ineffective for precision target shooting and humane hunting purposes,” according to Notes From a Savvy Hunter.

On another note, if you really need more than ten rounds to hunt, you shouldn’t be hunting. If you can’t get a deer down before ten shots then you’re likely not skilled or experienced enough to be hunting in the first place, and the animal has likely fled after shooting multiple shots in its direction.

As previously stated, the number one reason Americans own guns is for personal protection/safety. With the rampant amount of gun violence it is reasonable that an individual feels more comfortable owning a gun. Even if semi-automatic guns are banned, people will still have the ability to protect themselves.

Revolvers, which are non-semi-automatic guns, are simple, reliable handguns practical for self-defense.

“For self-defense and home defense purposes, there’s no significant difference between revolvers and semi-autos with respect to their ability to reliably fire calibers up to about .45, which is big enough to stop most attackers within a few seconds,” according to an online article by Tactical Gear

The Second Amendment needs to be revised in some capacity so that semi-automatic guns are banned nationally. Under any circumstance, there is no reason or necessity to own a semiautomatic gun. 

No one should have to worry about being a victim of a mass shooting, not in grocery stores, not in malls, not at school, not anywhere, not ever. 

Looking at other developed countries where semi-automatic guns are banned, such as Japan, we can see why mass shootings are practically non-existent. 

Under Japan’s firearms laws, the complicated and exhausting process of obtaining a gun only allows for purchasing shotguns and air rifles. Japanese citizens can not possess handguns, automatic assault weapons, semi-automatic assault weapons, military rifles or machine guns.

According to the Statista Research Department, in 2021 there were zero mass shootings in Japan and a total of 10 gun-related incidents. None of these incidents involved the use of a semi-automatic weapon. In the entire country of Japan, only one person died in 2021 from a shooting.

The Second Amendment of the United States Constitution states, “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,” and was ratified in 1791. 

The Founding Fathers believed citizens should be able to protect themselves, and or overthrow a tyrannical government. At the time, absolute monarchy was the typical form of government in Europe, so an overly powerful government was a real fear back then. 

The language used in the Constitution, specifically in the Second Amendment, is extremely vague, allowing for multiple interpretations of its meaning. It is the Supreme Court’s duty to interpret the law based on what they believe to be the framers’ intentions, as the law is rarely ever written in black-and-white.

Based on the current Supreme Court’s interpretation of the Second Amendment, the Supreme Court concluded that almost every adult should have the right to own and carry a gun. This includes carrying semi-automatic guns. 

The Second Amendment’s time has come and gone, as we really don’t need to worry about forming an emergency civilian army against a tyrannical government anytime soon. The U.S. Government has never been tyrannical or attempted to become tyrannical. Based on the 232-year-long pattern of democracy in the U.S., mass shootings should be the predominant concern. 

Just because there is a small possibility that the U.S. government will suddenly become tyrannical doesn’t mean the chance is realistic enough to increase the risk of mass shootings. The likelihood of the U.S. government becoming tyrannical is far less than the likelihood of mass shootings if semi-automatic guns remain legal. Therefore, irrational fears of the U.S. government becoming overly powerful shouldn’t motivate us to have Americans stockpiling semi-automatic weapons.

Altering the Second Amendment is a controversial subject. However, more than ever, we need to see radical change. Regulations and restrictions already in place have shown time-and-time again they’re not enough to stop mass shootings. According to Everytown, the largest gun violence prevention organization in America, “in the twelve years between 2009 and 2020, 1,363 people were shot and killed in the United States in a mass shooting, and 947 more were shot and wounded.” 

How many more innocent people must be murdered before something major is done? How many more “thoughts and prayers” must we hear before the federal government steps in? 

If you smoke cigarettes every day for 20 years it’ll give you some negative health effects. If you don’t study for a test, you probably won’t do well. If you forget to water your plants, your plants will likely die. The point is that almost everything in life is a series of cause-and-effect. Enacting legislation regarding semi-automatic guns is a matter of life and death. 

If we want to stop the high number of mass shootings, the only way to do it is by taking away the cause — semi-automatic guns. 

Emily Russell can be reached at [email protected].