The “Leading” Nation in the World


Graphic by Nubah.


Since 2018, when the supervision regarding school shootings in the United States of America was implemented, we see a staggering increase in the number of school shootings. In 2022 alone there were 51 school shootings, 16 more than 2021 – 35.

The Second Amendment in the US Constitution states, “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” It protects the rights of the general public to own arms in their homes.

If one would like to purchase a gun there is a certain procedure to go through.

Firstly, one would have to fill out a form from The Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. This form would ask them for personal information such as, name, age, address, place of birth, race, citizenship with an option of providing your social security number.

Questions such as, “Have you ever been convicted of a felony?”, “Have you ever been committed to a mental institution?”, “Are you an unlawful user of, or addicted to, marijuana or any other depressant, stimulant, narcotic drug, or any other controlled substance?”, and etc will also be asked in the form.

After the submission of one’s application the Federal Bureau of Investigation runs background checks with the help of the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS). It is said that this background check takes a matter of minutes. The NICS scans federal databases under such persons and looks for committed felonies, sentences longer than 2 years, and the declaration “mentally defective” by court.

If none of these statements are found, then they are clear to buy a gun. A person as young as 18 years old could buy a gun. Could this be the main reason for the great increase in the number of school shootings?

“Gun culture in the USA scares me a lot,” said junior Rufaida Rahman. “Just because of how accessible it is to any one and everyone. I mean, you have to be 21 in order to drink alcohol and only 18 to buy a gun?” she added.

People around the nation are buying guns for different purposes and intentions. With the knowledge of operating one, the possession of a gun could go both ways. “We do not know who is purchasing these guns and what they will do with them, they could and do act very irresponsibly,” Rahman said, “I think the only way to stop school shootings is to stop letting people have access to guns and implementing a ban on the purchase of guns.”

Claire Fox, a sophomore at State High, has spoken up about gun culture on her social media and how irresponsibly managed the subject is. “It is absolutely sickening,” Fox portrays her disappointment regarding the lack of care and attention towards the poor and disorganized gun control in The United States of America.

It is said that only 40% of the consumers purchasing guns go through a background check. Guns purchased privately, in auctions and in gun shows background checks are rarely run on the customer.

“Children or young adults should not be able to walk into a store and purchase a gun. So many shootings have occurred because they can,” Fox says, “For example, today in school, I was talking to one of my classmates and she just casually mentioned how she likes to bring her phone with her in the bathroom in case there is a school shooting. I believe that is something everyone should be appalled about, but instead it’s the everyday life of teens.”

The ‘progun’ hashtag on TikTok currently has 169.5 million views and it has videos under it ranging from people defending the citizen’s right to own a gun, to people’s weapon collection in their homes, to children being taught how to operate a weapon.

“It’s so obvious what the problem is and how simple it is to solve it if we just try. Gun control is not a crazy idea,” Fox says. She describes her solution to be ‘simple’: no guns. Meaning, no deaths.

It is so odd to see how school shootings don’t frighten or surprise anyone anymore. It is absolutely absurd that before coming into school everyday this is something we have to think about. The United States is known for many of its adamant and memorable actions and events, one of them being school shootings.

Julie Dehnel, a junior, speaks up about how normalizing school shootings is not the path we should be taking, “It’s normalized that children are dying at an alarming rate, not just because of any sickness but because of guns. This is something that needs to be addressed. Not just by my generation as a whole – because we are coming to that realization – but as a society.”

“The reason that all these mass shootings are happening right now is because of the hatred and the mental health crisis in The United States. […] people are not getting the mental health services they need.” Dehnel talks about the stigma and the lack of care people with mental health issues are going through and how it is driving them towards violence.

According to an analysis written by Malissa Kekahu from California State University, it is stated that the majority of school shooters are white males. On the other hand, the majority of the victims are people of color. It is extremely evident how the idea of white privilege makes these crimes look less ‘vulgar’, however, if an individual of color had done it, it is heavily criminalized.

A survey done by the Mental Health Foundation proves that women are three times more likely than men to be diagnosed with a mental illness, especially women of color.

A study by Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration shows that white individuals are more likely to seek services that aid with mental health than Black, Hispanic or Asian individuals.

If statistics provided by trusted organizations show that the majority of the people struggling with mental health are women of color, then why are the majority of school shooters white males if mental health and hate seems to be the biggest problem?

“Everytime my classes change I make sure that I know the quickest way to get out of the building and get away as far as possible,” Dehnel said.

All three students also mention an occurrence from the 2021-2022 school year, when State College Area High School received potential threats of harm.

“Being in the building where it’s empty and most of my friends weren’t there I just felt like anything could happen at any given moment and my life would be over. Which is so weird, all because I wanted to take my tests as I was leaving early for winter break.” Fox mentions how eerie the entire environment was in the building.

“It’s honestly so scary that we did not need to think twice, need to hear [rumors about the shooting] twice to believe that it could happen.” Rahman mentions how she did not go to school that day.

“[The day mentioned in the rumors of a shooting] more than half the school did not show up. I, myself, was not at school that day as my mother did not let me,” said Dehnel.

On January 6th, 2023 a six year old student from Richneck Elementary School in Newport News, Virginia, shot his first grade teacher- Abby Zwerner, age 25- in the chest causing fatal injuries. The gun happened to belong to the child’s mother who purchased it legally; how it ended up in his bag is still unknown.

In Virginia, leaving a weapon unattended to a child under the age of fourteen is a misdemeanor. This was considered the first school shooting of 2023, only six days into the year.

“To let an issue get to the point where a six year old shoots their teacher at school and people still don’t see the problem,” says Fox, “I genuinely do not understand it.”

One of the biggest school shootings, so far, happened in Uvalde, Texas, in Robb Elementary School. On May 24th, 2022 an active shooter entered the premises killing 19 students, between the ages 9 and 10, and 2 faculty members.

This occurrence had triggered many protests around the nation urging to look into the matter of gun violence and banning the purchase of guns for regular citizens.

Miah Cerrilo, an 11 year old survivor of the shooting, told The Texas Tribune, “I thought [the gunman] was going to come back to the room, so I grabbed the blood and put it all over me.” The young girl was forced to lay there quietly, pretending to be dead with her friend’s blood all over her body.

Another shooting had taken place in St. Louis, Missouri in Central Visual Performing Arts High school where a teacher, Jean Kucza, and 15 year old student, Alexandria Bell, were killed, with 7 others injured.

“I wanted to go to school today and learn, I was there to learn, I was not there to hide in a corner. Guns do not belong in schools,” said senior Dylan Fritz, of Central Visual Performing Arts High School.

The shooting closest to State College happened in Pittsburgh in Oliver Citywide Academy. Marquis Campbell, a 15 year old student, was shot inside a school van right outside the school. Campbell then passed away in Allegheny General Hospital.

President Biden has provided $350 billion in American Rescue plans to states to increase the number, efficiency and resources of the police force, and to also provide systems like community violence intervention with as much assistance as possible.

The President has also assigned more task forces to prevent the manufacture of ‘ghost guns’, or guns that are made at home and not legally registered under the government.

Additionally, the strict supervision of the exchange and purchasing of guns has been ordered. Camps, organizations and hearings around the nation have been organized to steer young adults and teens away from crime.

However, as per the Second Amendment, the complete ban of guns to the general public has never been proposed.