Generation Lockdown

Without leaders making a real change, mass shootings will remain our reality.


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Students protested on April 3, 2023, inside the Tennessee state capitol in Nashville. Why do children have to advocate for change?

On January 21, 11 people were killed in Monterey Park, California. On February 13, three people were killed at Michigan State University. On March 27, six people were killed at The Covenant School in Tennessee. On April 10, five people were killed in Louisville, Kentucky. The list goes on. In fact, these four mass shootings only make up 0.023 percent of the 173 mass shootings that have occurred in 2023.

The response of political leaders to The Covenant School shooting illustrated that many people in power will continue to blatantly ignore the gun violence epidemic. As they ignore the epidemic, they are ignoring the 71 percent of citizens that they represent calling on them to impose stricter gun laws, continuing to put innocent people in harm’s way.

The Covenant School shooting in Nashville, Tennessee, was the 377th school shooting since the Columbine High School shooting in 1999. As people mourned and protested, some lawmakers were quick to reaffirm their stance on gun violence after the shooting. Those like Texas Republican Senator John Cornyn illustrated his pro-gun stance and told  NPR reporters, ‘“The only thing I hear the administration arguing for is an assault weapons ban,”’ and that he does not ‘“know what other purpose would be served,”’ by banning assault weapons.

Similarly, Republican Representative Tim Burchett of Tennessee, told NPR’s reporters ‘“We’re not gonna fix it — criminals are gonna be criminals,”’ and that “gun laws “don’t work” to curb violence.”  Burchett added that he does not ‘“see any real role we could do other than mess things up.”’

Gun laws do work. James Alan Fox, a Northeastern University professor, co-wrote a study on the effectiveness of state gun laws for the American Psychological Association. The study concluded that gun laws reduce the frequency of mass shootings. Fox found that “state laws requiring a permit to purchase a firearm were associated with 60 percent lower odds of a mass public shooting occurring” and  “large-capacity magazine bans were associated with 38 percent fewer fatalities.” Additionally, it is estimated that if the 1994 Assault Weapons Ban had remained in place, there would have been 70 percent fewer deaths from mass shootings. 

The facts are clear, and some of our leaders are pursuing gun safety measures, like reintroducing the 1994 Assault Weapons Ban. Representatives David Cicilline (D) of Rhode Island, Lucy McBath (D) of Georgia, Sheila Jackson Lee (D) of Texas and Jerry Nadler (D) of New York are calling on the Speaker of the House of Representatives Kevin McCarthy (R) to revisit the ban on assault weapons. In Representatives Cicilline, McBath, Lee, and Nadler’s letter, they noted the ban “was associated with a 25 percent drop in gun massacres and a 40 percent drop in fatalities.” 

They also recognized the government’s failure to protect its citizens and wrote:

“Children should not have to fear for their lives or plan for how to defend themselves against shooters armed with assault rifles. They should not have to plan to play dead, or practice locking themselves in bulletproof rooms, or listen for loud bangs in their hallways. Teenage survivors shouldn’t have to lobby lawmakers to pass common sense legislation, or demand action in the streets of Washington or the halls of the Capitol. This is not their job. It’s ours. And we have failed.”


Why have so few of our leaders acknowledged that they have failed us while the rest stand behind faulty claims and myths? 

The disappointing truth is that gun violence is going to continue to be a prominent issue for us. Regardless of the deaths of Hallie Scruggs, Evelyn Dieckhaus, and William Kinney, all 9; Mike Hill, 61, a school custodian; Cynthia Peak, 61, a substitute teacher; and Katherine Koonce, 60, the Head of School, in the Covenant School shooting, the focus was quickly turned to the fact that the shooter, who attacked a Christian school, was transgender.

The shooting caused more friction in debates about LGBTQIA+  rights in Nashville. According to the New York Times, people like Clay Travis, a Nashville-based radio host, tweeted that the shooting, ‘“was a terror attack on religious people” by a transgender identifying person. Likewise, Matt Walsh, a podcaster of The Daily Wire, discussed how ‘“This [was] not about guns,”’ and described the call for stricter gun laws as a ‘“radical far-left trans activism”’ movement.

Yet, no clear motive for the shooting has been revealed. As of April 25, the investigators are looking over the shooter’s several diagrams, notes about past school shootings, shooters and firearms courses, a suicide note, medical folders, firearm accessories, and cartridge casings. Clearly, people are using the sexuality of the shooter to advance their own agendas by disregarding the authority and taking the focus off of the lack of gun laws.

Uneducated claims like those of Walsh and Travis take the focus off of the real problem: guns. Redirecting attention allows for more laws protecting guns to pass. For example, on March 28, a day after the Covenant School shooting, a federal judge “quietly paved the way for Tennessee to reduce the minimum age at which residents can carry handguns publicly from 21 to 18,” according to NPR. 

Mass shootings and school shootings are our reality. They are going to continue to be our reality unless something changes. Children will worry about dying at school and people will be afraid of dying at work because shooting after shooting, the majority of our leaders continue to stand by protecting guns.