‘Another shooting’

There was another shooting.

Last Wednesday, 17 people were killed and at least 14 injured when a 19 year old, wielding an AR-15, opened fire in the Florida high school from which he had been expelled.

“Another one?” seemed to be the immediate question when the headlines popped up on T.V. “Wasn’t there just a mass shooting?”

There surely was. In fact, according to the non-profit organization Gun Violence Archive, there have been 30 mass shootings in the United States so far in 2018. The archive also found that there is a mass shooting in the country, on average, every nine out of 10 days.

This is not the case around the world. Cnn.com reported, citing research by Adam Lankford of the University of Alabama in 2016, that while Americans make up only 5 percent of the world’s population, they make up 31 percent of the world’s mass shooters. The report also detailed that The United States has the most mass shootings of any country, by a significant degree.

Clearly we are doing something wrong. There is no denying that.

However, politicizing the issue seems to be diluting the process.

Any helpful discussion is being buried by fiery demands on social media for either increased gun security in our schools or to ban guns entirely. As a country that has a such complex relationship with guns, these kind of drastic demands do little to help fix the issue at hand. Mass shootings have affected our country for years. A solution cannot happen overnight.

However, there is no question that gun control must be discussed. Evidence of that comes from research done on incidences in other countries, like Australia.

According to an article published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, not a single mass shooting has occurred in Australia since the country reformed their gun laws, banning rapid-fire guns, in 1997. Firearm deaths, in general, also declined.

Does that mean the same thing will work in the United States? Not necessarily. But does it mean that, as responsible citizens, we should be considering that it might? Many of us on the Beacon editorial board are inclined to think so.

On the other side of the political coin, the organization “Everytown for Gun Safety” has come under fire for reporting misleading statistics about school shootings.

The organization, whose name speaks for itself, reported that 18 school shootings have occured in the United States alone in 2018. If that number sounds unbelievable, that’s because it is not entirely accurate.

The Washington Post explained that the organization “inflated” that number using instances that many of us would not count as school shootings, at least not in the same vein as Columbine or Sandy Hook.

These included an instance where a Michigan man, parked in the lot of a school which housed no students or teachers — it had been closed for seven months — called the police to report that he was suicidal and had a gun. While he ended his own life, the school seems to have had little to do with the incident.

Another instance that the organization counted in its inflated number was one where a student fired a few rounds in the school parking lot following an altercation. No one was injured, and it was after 8 p.m.

These situations are a far cry from the tragedy that occurred last week. While undoubtedly tragic, these are personal situations that ended up being brought on school property, not deliberate, premeditated attempts to kill as many classmates as possible.

To blindly push agendas by sharing misleading statistics is irresponsible, unethical and counterintuitive.

So-called “fake news” should not be utilized alongside such a tragic event. It’s moments like this when serious journalism needs to come to the forefront and exaggerated messages that promote a certain agenda need to be in the background.

Our first priority should not be the defense of our political opinions in the face of possible issues with them. It should not be to exaggerate an issue that is scary in itself. It should be having an open mind about what the actual best thing is for solving this problem.

This is what it means to love your country.

If there is clear evidence that there is something wrong, you try to fix it. You explore every possible avenue for fixing it. You do this because you love your country, you love the people in it, and you do not want to see so many people senselessly killed.

Perhaps the issue is a matter of gun control. Maybe it’s an issue of mental health. Maybe it’s an issue of being able to spot warning signs. It could be some combination of all of these things, but there will be no answer if there is no discussion.

If you love your country, you love your country. Not your agenda.