The Platform


Six months into 2022, and the United States has already witnessed 213 mass shootings. News sites are flooded with the names and faces of the victims of these attacks. Students attend classes with safety procedures memorized, parents hesitate to let their children leave home and many live in a constant state of fear. Gun violence has become an epidemic — the American people are left stranded without any support or even traces of reformed gun laws from their representatives. This chaotic state of being is not normal. I should be able to go to school without having to think about the easiest way to escape from my classroom, and every person in the country should be able to go through their day without the fear of being shot and killed.

Writer and philosopher George Santayana is quoted as saying, “Those who do not learn history are doomed to repeat it.” The history, in this case, are the effects of past mass shootings: devastated families, communities, and a country weighed down with grief. In December of 2012, 26 people were killed in the infamous shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. Being a Connecticut native myself, as well as being the same age as many of the victims at the time of the shooting, what happened at Sandy Hook has brought me and my community a distinctive pain and sense of grief. Now, nearly ten years later, history has repeated itself. On May 24, 21 people were killed at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas. This was the deadliest school shooting since Sandy Hook, although over those ten years, many schools were also threatened by gun violence. The two elementary schools, while separated by thousands of miles, have faced similarly tragic fates, and they don’t stand alone.

In 2013, the Gun Violence Archive began tracking incidents of gun violence across the country, reporting on the total number of incidents, deaths, and even startling statistics like the number of children aged 0-11 killed or injured. The Gun Violence Archive has traced shootings from across the country, revealing that at this point, the average number of mass shootings in the United States this year is about ten incidents per week. Unfortunately, 2021 ended with the exact same fate; an average of ten mass shootings per week. This average would only increase throughout the rest of the year — making this one of the deadliest yet.

One would think that the sheer repetitiveness of these events would have pushed our lawmakers and government officials, the people we elected to keep us out of harm’s way, to enact gun control reform laws. Uvalde, Texas. Buffalo, New York. Parkland, Florida. And countless pages of mass shootings to click through on the Gun Violence Archive’s tracking page. As American people, we are tired. Tired of reading the names of victims. Tired of seeing the smiling faces of people who fell prey to the barrel of a gun. And we are tired of hearing radio silence on Capitol Hill. We are tired of having our safety concerns overlooked and ignored by the very people we elected to public office. We are tired of the ‘thoughts and prayers’ sent out in tweets to the families of victims. We are ready for more. Not only have these shootings devastated the communities in which they occurred and sent shockwaves across the nation, but they have destroyed our faith in government.

In the ten years since the shooting at Sandy Hook, progress in developing gun control laws has remained fairly stagnant, considering that the scope of acts of gun violence is the same, even worse, as it was years ago. It’s almost as easy now to obtain an open-carry license or buy a gun as it was years ago, thanks to the roadblocks in state and federal legislatures. The filibuster, increasing political polarization at all levels of government, and ultra-conservative gun rights activists have all slowed the necessary process of enacting gun control laws that will keep our country safe and healthy.

While many states have developed their own legislation, like closing gun-show loopholes, limiting magazine sizes, and prohibiting the sale of certain types of firearms, the federal government continues to hold sway over state governments. Republican-controlled state legislatures refuse to even start the gun control discussion, with many claiming that any reform laws would infringe on their Second Amendment rights to keep and bear arms. This argument, however, can be completely invalidated by the fact that the writers of this Amendment lived at a time in which the U.S. was barely populated, and muskets were needed to protect oneself against bear attacks. Put simply, our gun laws are outdated. 18th-century laws cannot regulate 21st-century weaponry.

We have had enough of the thoughts and the prayers. We need time to heal, but we also need to act. We must push our state and federal legislators to listen to us, to start the discussion about gun control. Our far-too-loose gun laws have left thousands dead, and even more grieving their losses. It’s time to make a change, because enough is enough.

Clara Sorkin is a rising high school senior from Connecticut. She is passionate about journalism and social issues, and hopes that her future professional endeavors will revolve around these themes. She is especially interested in the intersections between history and gender, and social justice.