It’s no secret that when it comes to gun violence, America has the lead on just about every other developed country in the world. What’s even more alarming, in these still-early days of the new year, is the fact that a growing percentage of shootings are taking place in or around the nation’s schools.
According to recent reports, the first 23 days of 2018 saw a total of 11 school-related shootings. The latest — an incident in Kentucky, which killed two and wounded 18 others — occurred on January 23, with President Trump offering the Republican party line of “thoughts and prayers” to the families and loved ones of the fallen.
Sadly, those thoughts and prayers don’t seem to be making any headway when it comes to preventing more of these tragedies. On the contrary, according to Everytown for Gun Safety — a group devoted to promoting stricter gun laws — there has been, on average, one school shooting a week since 2013. With this latest incident — thus far the most deadly of the new year — this puts 2018 well above average, and it’s barely February.
Opponents of gun control may argue that while there have indeed been shootings, and they have indeed taken place at or near institutions of learning, not all of them have been fatal or even harmful. The first such incident of the new year, in fact, had but a single casualty: A man who died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound in a parking lot near East Olive Elementary School in St. John, Michigan. Several other shootings in the first week of 2018 involved bullets fired at buildings or school buses, but no one was injured.
But do these statistics negate the horrors that other victims have experienced? Do they sponge away the blood of the 20 children and six adults who were gunned down at Sandy Hook in December 2012? Will they leave the residents of Marshall County in Kentucky feeling less “emotionally wrecked”? The answer, sadly, is a resigned and resounding no.
How many more of these shootings does the nation have to endure before strong gun control reform is enacted? The answer to that will, in all likelihood, be printed in the pages of tomorrow’s newspaper, and the one after that, and the one after that.