Editorials, Opinion

Another day, another mass shooting

Another day, another mass shooting: 208 in 130 days. Likely more by the time you read this. 

Seven, in fact, on Sunday alone, with 12 total over the weekend. One of the shootings on Saturday qualified as a mass murder: eight dead — including three children, ages 3, 8 and 11 — and seven injured in Allen, Texas, when a gunman opened fire at an outdoor mall. 

The Gun Violence Archive is a data collection group dedicated to tracking gun deaths, mass shootings and mass murders. It defines mass shooting as an incident with “a minimum of four victims shot, either injured or killed, not including any shooter who may also have been killed or injured in the incident,” while mass murder is four or more people killed in a shooting incident, not including the shooter. 

So far, the GVA has counted 208 mass shootings, 21 mass murders and over 15,000 total gun-related deaths (about 8,600 of which were suicides) plus over 12,000 injuries. That averages out to about 115 gun-related deaths and 92 injuries per day. With statistics trending the way they are, it seems like only a matter of time before West Virginia has a mass shooting. 

Recently, some Morgantown residents thought we were having one: Calls went out about an active shooter near Friendship Manor, and Morgantown Police responded accordingly. There was still a tragedy, but only one casualty: A man shot and killed himself in the entryway of the facility, where his father is a resident. While the initial reports of a potential mass shooting were false, the fear people experienced was very real.  

We would really like to be able to stop writing about mass shootings and gun violence. But as long as mass shootings and senseless gun violence continue to occur on a near daily basis, we will continue to use this space to proclaim that there is a way to end the needless bloodshed. 

And there is a way — multiple ways, actually, because gun violence is a complex problem that will require a multifaceted solution — no matter what the Second Amendment absolutists say. As the perennial The Onion headline says: “ ‘No way to prevent this’ says only nation where this regularly happens.”  

Somewhere along the way, gun control was warped into an all-or-nothing scenario where reform of any kind was spun as “the government is coming to take your guns away” and the only defense was to create government-assured unfettered access to firearms. 

Nobody wants to take guns away — especially not in a state like West Virginia that has a proud hunting tradition.  Especially since most West Virginians respect that guns, while useful, can be deadly and understand there is a right way and wrong way to handle them. 

As with any potentially dangerous tool — including cars, knives, heavy machinery and, yes, guns — there must be some rules and regulations in place. And as a people who have a long culture of responsible gun use, West Virginians should be leading the fight for commonsense gun reform. 

Commonsense reforms like waiting periods to purchase a gun (studies show instant access to a firearm increases suicide success rates); closing loopholes that let people get firearms without going through a background check; safe storage laws that keep children and unauthorized users from getting to a gun; basic training on how to properly use a firearm; restricting sales of AR-15-style rifles (mass shooters’ weapon of choice) and creating a regulatory body with the ability to recall defective firearms, such as the SIG Sauer P320 pistol, which has been shown to fire without anyone pulling the trigger. 

Special interest groups have convinced responsible gun owners that any kind of gun control will negatively impact them. Many gun owners have voluntarily taken precautions and training, so stricter regulation won’t affect them significantly. But stricter guns laws will help to curb irresponsible behavior and make it harder for bad actors to use guns to commit horrible acts of violence.