Gun violence needs multifaceted solutions
Published 3:19 pm Friday, December 2, 2022
I’m not a Black Friday shopper. I’ve been dragged to the store on a few occasions in the past, but generally, I prefer to avoid the crowds instead. Even the enticement of nice sales is not enough to convince me to brave the stores on the day after Thanksgiving (or the rest of the weekend too).
I’ve gotten my panic-buy-all-my-Christmas-presents-at-the-last-minute routine down to an art form by now. So there’s no need for me to head to the store on Black Friday.
And that’s apparently a good idea, according to the headlines I’ve been reading the past few days.
In North Carolina alone, there were three different shooting incidents at shopping centers during the post-Thanksgiving weekend. The first was at a Walmart in Lumberton that injured one person, then a shooting at the mall in Greenville which injured two, and then another brief shooting at the North Hills mall in Raleigh which left one person injured.
All this happened just days after an employee at Walmart in Chesapeake opened fire on his own coworkers, killing six of them.
To my knowledge, no one died in any of the three incidents in North Carolina. And they all seem to be isolated incidents where the shooter and the victim knew each other; not a randomly-targeted mass shooting kind of event we’ve seen too many times before. But these shootings have all taken place in public spaces, where many people are out and about trying to mind their business and get their holiday shopping (or just regular shopping) done.
I wish these were the only examples of recent gun violence, but I can think of plenty of other shooting incidents across the country this year, many of which have also taken place in public spaces.
Just in this past month, a shooter opened fire at an LGBTQ+ nightclub in Colorado and another shooter at the University of Virginia targeted football players returning from a field trip.
Earlier this year, school shooters killed and injured students in St. Louis, Missouri and Uvalde, Texas. In Dallas, Texas in October, a gunman killed two people at a hospital. Earlier in October, a teenaged gunman opened fire in a Raleigh neighborhood, killing some neighbors and his own brother.
Seven people were killed and 48 injured when a gunman started shooting at a Fourth of July parade in Highland Park, Illinois. In May, a shooter killed one and injured five others at a church in Laguna Woods, California. That happened just a day before a white supremacist killed 10 people out grocery shopping in Buffalo, New York.
This is not a comprehensive list of examples, unfortunately, and I didn’t even include local examples of gun violence you can sometimes find on the pages of this newspaper as well.
Now I don’t list all these examples just to scare you into staying home all the time. Even though there’s a chance that anything can happen when you’re out in public, most of the time, you’re going to not encounter anything while you’re out and about. But the odds certainly aren’t zero anymore, and haven’t been for a long time.
I suppose there isn’t any way to be truly prepared if we find ourselves in such situations, so I can’t really offer many tips here to keep ourselves safe. I know that I find myself more and more these days identifying exits whenever I go somewhere and paying more attention to my surroundings. I wonder too if I should take some sort of first aid training, just in case I’m ever in a situation where someone needs help.
Plenty of places are providing extra security measures these days in an effort to prevent tragedy as well. There may be more security guards at the mall. Schools have to buzz you in through a locked door. Attending an event may require you to walk through metal detectors before you get inside.
But all of these things are only short-term solutions. They’re just band-aids on a much bigger problem. It’s going to take a lot more than extra security to staunch the flow of gun violence.
It’s a multifaceted problem that needs multifaceted long-term solutions. There’s no one single reason why a person picks up a gun and chooses to shoot people. And mass shootings are only a fraction of the gun violence that exists in our country. There are plenty of incidents that are sparked by road rage or gang violence or domestic violence or retaliation for something, etc. Additionally, a large number of suicides are carried out with guns as well.
No one single solution will fix the entirety of those problems. Especially not when guns are so deeply engrained in our culture and have been for so long.
While it’s not a perfect solution, I believe more regulation on gun ownership is a good place to kick things off. That could mean adding “red flag” laws to temporarily remove guns from a person who may be a danger to themselves or others. That could mean closing loopholes in background checks and increasing wait periods for gun purchases. That could mean raising the age for purchasing certain types of weapons.
I’m not advocating for any sort of blanket gun ban. But just like how we store kitchen knives out of reach of people who shouldn’t use them, we should also do the same with guns. Too many people have abused the responsibility of handling these weapons properly.
And those aren’t the only things to do. We need to really start digging down to the roots of hatred and anger, and working on ways to stop them as well. We need to find ways for people to coexist with each other without feeling the need to grab a gun. Surely, there are much smarter people than me out there who have already started working on these kinds of more long-term solutions, and they probably need a lot more support as we move forward.
We really have to commit ourselves to changing gun culture.
The pandemic showed us that we can’t remain as hermits in our houses forever, and I think we all deserve to be able to do some Christmas shopping in peace.
Holly Taylor is a Staff Writer for Roanoke-Chowan Publications. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or 252-332-7206.