Gun reform: Nashville shooting



Students protest gun violence in schools in front of the Capitol Monday, April 3, 2023, in Nashville, Tenn. The protest was held one week after six people were killed by a shooter at The Covenant School, a private Presbyterian school, in Nashville. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

Gabby Bell, Contributor

On Monday March 27th, The Covenant School in Nashville, Tennessee tragically lost six lives to gun violence. The pain and grief in Nashville was felt nationwide, but yet again was not enough to address the problem of mass shootings that occur over and over again. Three children and three adults lost their lives in Nashville. Over the last three years, there have been more than 600 mass shootings (in which four or more people were killed or injured) in the United States. The truth is that guns are deeply ingrained in American society and are at the front of some of the country’s most controversial political debates. Around half of Americans see gun violence as a big problem in the country with many in favor of stricter gun laws. There are a lot of factors that could explain the number of shootings in the United States including societal, class, and racial divides. These have been debunked by research leaving the number of guns in the country as a remaining variable. Many Americans are proud gun owners, having at least one firearm in their household. While a good percentage of gun owners are responsible with their firearms, younger and less mature individuals can easily get a hold of dangerous machinery.

Why is gun control so hard to explain when gun control measures have proven to be effective in other areas of the Western World? The approach needed to implement gun control legislation is critical- while safety measures are necessary, there is simply too much opposition between the political parties to push for a change. In Tennessee, a deep red state dominated by the Republican party, Gov. Bill Lee signed an executive order to strengthen the state’s background check process for purchasing firearms. The law would prohibit potentially dangerous individuals from owning guns.

In response to the shooting at Covenant school, Lee said in a press conference, “We should set aside politics and pride.” Tennessee has encountered a turmoil in politics in recent days with the expulsion of Justin Jones and Justin Pearson after breaking decorum rules in a protest about gun violence. A third Democrat avoided expulsion, but the difference between the three was that Pearson and Jones were black. President Joe Biden responded by calling the expulsions “shocking, undemocratic, and without precedent.” There has also been criticism on the lack of action on gun reform from Republicans. This isn’t simply a Republican issue, it’s a bipartisan issue. Democrats and Republicans time and time again choose their own biases and beliefs over the wellbeing of Americans. There is an unclear middle ground, we see politicians stick to their beliefs without listening to what their colleagues are saying, and we have a general public who is fearful of the lack of maturity represented in the government.

So what happens next? Mass shootings will likely continue to be an issue until the government decides to take solid measures to restrict the education provided with guns or purchases of gun laws. In many states, guns are becoming even more accessible to buy with restrictions loosening rather than becoming more restrictive. Realistically, we could see a rise in red flag laws across the country. These would allow police to temporarily seize legally owned guns from people who a judge has ruled to be a danger to themselves or others. These laws will only be effective if high-risk individuals are quickly identified, leading to the removal of firearms.

Arming teachers in schools is not a sustainable idea. This could result in an increase in the amount of trauma and discomfort students, especially younger students, are exposed to. The tragedy in Tennessee is generating activism from younger populations begging for stricter gun control. Gun violence is one of the leading causes of death for children in the United States. How many more children will lose their lives as a result of outright selfish political agendas?  It is time that our government came together to create policies and change that will keep Americans safe.