Yesterday, an 18-year-old gunman opened fire on students and teachers at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas. As of late last night, 21 people – 19 children and two adults – were dead.
Ten days earlier, on May 14, an 18-year-old shooter murdered 10 Black shoppers at a supermarket in Buffalo, New York, after writing a manifesto rife with racist, white supremacist language, including from the ethnonationalist “great replacement theory” conspiracy.
And on May 16, a gunman killed one congregant and wounded five others while members of a Taiwanese Presbyterian church gathered in Laguna Woods, California, in what is now being investigated as a possible hate crime.
Mass shootings have become a tragic feature of American life. In Just Security, authors have written about the need for gun violence prevention. They have written about the ways in which violence can intersect with racism and extremism to function as domestic terrorism, and about a court case in which the Mexican government seeks relief for U.S. gun violence crossing borders.
In two articles – written after the Las Vegas, El Paso, and Dayton shootings – the authors made specific policy recommendations for gun violence prevention:
Imagine if the federal government brought to bear even a small fraction of the amount of resources it uses to combat international terrorism in order to mitigate gun violence. What if the federal budget provided more money for research aimed at understanding gun violence and offering smart ideas to counter it? What if the government created a national center dedicated solely to this issue?
- To Avoid Future “El Pasos” and “Daytons,” It’s Time to Invest in Prevention by Stevan Weine and Eric Rosand
The United States needs a comprehensive solution that recognizes the importance of doing more than making it harder for guns to get into the hands of the wrong people and taking away guns from those who have no business owning one. . . . Because darkness is sure to strike again, the nation needs political leaders who can take us all towards viable and comprehensive solutions.
These articles were written in 2017 and 2019, respectively. Some aspects of federal gun policy have changed in the intervening years, including a ban on bump stocks and reversal of the ban on CDC funding for gun violence research. But much of the policy analysis – and the fundamental call for effective gun violence prevention – remain sadly relevant today.
On Monday, Nicholas Espíritu wrote in Just Security about how U.S. public education, at its best, could “allow generations to make claim to an alternate vision of America: one more diverse, inclusive, and equal.” For people to be able claim that vision, schools – and shops, and places of worship, and other sites of civic space – must first be places of safety, not violence.