Unending tragedy: On U.S. school shootings and gun control debate 

The U.S. must impose a ban on assault weapons, and expand checks for gun ownership

May 26, 2022 12:10 am | Updated 11:22 am IST

The U.S. once again faced the grim consequences of its unwillingness to tackle gun violence at its source when a man shot dead at least 19 children and two adults, including a teacher, at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas. The shooting marks the worst such attack in the U.S. since the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School attack in 2018, when a former student of the school in Parkland, Florida, opened fire, killing 17 people and wounding 17 others. A similar major shooting that led to outrage yet saw no permanent reform in guns laws occurred at Sandy Hook elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut, in 2012, in which 20 first graders and six school employees perished. The Uvalde tragedy has also shaken the nation for it comes scarcely 10 days after a shooting at a supermarket store in Buffalo, New York, which officials described as a racist hate crime, claiming 10 lives. Overall, there have been at least 26 school shootings in 2022 alone and at least 118 incidents since 2018, according to reports that have tracked this statistic over the past four years. Last year witnessed 34 school shootings, the highest number during this period; there were 24 incidents each in 2019 and 2018 and 10 in 2020. Addressing the nation after the Uvalde attack, U.S. President Joe Biden made an urgent plea for common-sense gun control reform, saying, “When in God’s name are we going to stand up to the gun lobby?... I am sick and tired of it. We have to act... these kinds of mass shootings rarely happen elsewhere in the world… It’s time to turn this pain into action.”

Yet, it would be unrealistic to hope for meaningful change in the U.S.’s view on the Second Amendment, which assures citizens of the right to bear arms. Several Presidents, mostly Democrats, have tried and failed to get even basic gun control laws passed through Congress. Former President Barack Obama, for example, came away frustrated after Capitol Hill rejected no fewer than 17 attempts by his White House to bring common-sense gun control to the floor of Congress. While conservative lawmakers seek to score political points by fiercely defending the constitutional right to bear arms, it is common knowledge now that at the heart of the U.S. Congress’s refusal to stamp out gun violence in schools and other public spaces is shadowy lobbying on Capitol Hill by the deep-pocketed and well-networked National Rifle Association and, along with them, the entire gun manufacturing industry. If Mr. Biden genuinely wishes to clamp down on this violence, which has ripped into America’s soul for several generations now, he may have no choice but to follow in Mr. Obama’s steps and use his presidential power of executive actions to enforce gun control measures. These should, at a minimum, include an assault weapons ban, expanded background checks for gun ownership and boosted funding for federal enforcement agencies regulating gun proliferation.

Top News Today

Sign in to unlock member-only benefits!
  • Access 10 free stories every month
  • Save stories to read later
  • Access to comment on every story
  • Sign-up/manage your newsletter subscriptions with a single click
  • Get notified by email for early access to discounts & offers on our products
Sign in


Comments have to be in English, and in full sentences. They cannot be abusive or personal. Please abide by our community guidelines for posting your comments.

We have migrated to a new commenting platform. If you are already a registered user of The Hindu and logged in, you may continue to engage with our articles. If you do not have an account please register and login to post comments. Users can access their older comments by logging into their accounts on Vuukle.