Opinion: Even when it’s not in the news, gun violence remains a problem

There hasn’t been a major mass shooting in the news, but the thousands are dying every year from other types of gun violence.


Ben Allen Smith

Guns are displayed at Scheels in Coralville on Tuesday, April 11. The Iowa House recently accepted the stand-your-ground-provision, an amendment to HF 517, which permits an individual to use deadly force when their life is in danger.

Hannah Pinski, Columnist

When you hear “gun violence,” what are the first things that come to mind?

Sandy Hook, Stoneman Douglas, Las Vegas? I’m sure if it wasn’t one of those events I mentioned, it was probably another mass shooting that occurred within the past few years.

However, the reality is that gun violence is an issue prevalent every day in America, even though most of us are unaware about a shooting most days. When gun violence is recognized, it’s as a trendy topic and not a chronic societal issue; addressing gun violence is important for a week after a mass shooting and then disappears from social-media feeds and news articles.

We need to be more vigorous in our acknowledgement and response to the gun problem in America.

It’s easy to imagine gun violence as being largely about mass shootings. After all, those are the most heavily covered by media outlets. However, data collected by the Gun Violence Archive suggest this perception is far from reality.

So far in 2020, more than 7,400 Americans have died from guns — 62.4 percent from suicide,  and nearly 37.6 percent from homicide, murder, or unintentional accidents. Mass shootings only account for 0.007 percent of deaths, or 55 so far this year.

If America ever wants to see an improvement in this issue, the federal government has to gain more control over gun regulation and form consistency across the nation.

Why don’t more people know this? It’s because the majority of gun violence that’s reported in the media is when it’s mass shootings. Individual suicides and murders aren’t normally national news stories, which skews our perception about the topic.

Another reason why the issue isn’t getting solved is because many citizens don’t know that gun laws are regulated by the state rather than the federal level.

For example, five states such as Illinois and New York generally ban open carry in public places while 31 states such as Texas allow it even without having a license or permit. A second law that varies from state to state is the minimum age to purchase a gun. In states such as Virginia and South Carolina, the minimum age to purchase a handgun is 18 while Iowa and Connecticut residents must wait until age 21.

When there is a public interest in gun control, American citizens demand that the federal government needs to enact and enforce stricter laws such as universal background checks, raising the minimum age, and banning military-style assault rifles. However, problems that occur aren’t just in the lack of enforcement and laws themselves, but also the inconsistency of laws between states.

If America ever wants to see an improvement in this issue, the federal government has to gain more control over gun regulation and form consistency across the nation.

With the media disillusioning the reality of gun violence and the lack of knowledge behind the laws that already in place, it’s no wonder the issue hasn’t improved even in the last decade.

If Americans don’t begin to educate themselves and become aware of the reality behind the issue, this problem will never be solved.