By THE BLUE & GRAY PRESS EDITORIAL BOARD
This past Sunday, Nov. 5, marked the deadliest mass shooting by an individual in Texas history, as well as the deadliest shooting in an American place of worship. When a gunman opened fire on the congregation of First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, he killed 26 people and injured at least 20 more, including children, according to the New York Times.
This tragedy, occurring barely a month after the mass shooting at the Jason Aldean concert in Las Vegas, is indicative of a larger problem. According to ABC News, there have been 307 mass shootings in the U.S. in 2017 alone. Whenever a crisis of this kind occurs, debates over gun control, a hot topic in general, are brought further into the public spotlight.
At a news conference in Tokyo on Monday, President Donald Trump addressed the shooting in Sutherland Springs, calling the gunman “a very deranged individual” and saying, “This isn’t a guns situation… this is a mental health problem at the highest level.”
However, a study in the American Journal of Public Health found that less than five percent of 120,000 gun-related killings in America between 2001 and 2010 were committed by people with a diagnosed mental illness.
This is more than a mental health issue. This is a gun issue, and while guns do not need to be completely banned outright, there should be some limitations on what kinds of firearms the average citizen can own. It is one thing to own a handgun for protection or a hunting rifle for sport and an entirely different thing to own a semi-automatic weapon, like the Ruger SR-566 that gunman, David Patrick Kelley, used in the Sutherland Springs shooting.
According to Politico, mass shootings are not becoming more frequent; they’re about as frequent as they were in the 1980s and 1990s, but they are becoming more deadly, with more casualties per shooting. This is partially due to the use of automatic and semi-automatic weapons.
The safety of American citizens is paramount, and government officials need to set politics aside and focus on what is most important by working to decrease the probability of tragedies like what happened in Sutherland Springs.
The Blue and Gray Press Staff offers our sincere condolences to the families and friends of the victims of the shooting at First Baptist Church.