Every year around this time we think of the holidays and spending time with our families. In Newtown, CT 4 years ago, families were decorating their trees and finishing up their last minute holiday gifts with their children by their side. This all changed on December 14, 2012. A 20-year-old man by the name of Adam Lanza committed the world’s largest school mass shooting. Every morning parents say goodbye to their children as they head for another day of school. Nobody ever expects that their children will not return. So how has this harsh reality affected society? Is it for the good or the bad?
The access to guns has been a controversial issue for many years. According to CNS News “There are today more than 20,000 gun control laws in effect -- federal, state and local -- in the United States.” (CNS 1). These laws however still haven’t prevented mass shootings like Sandy Hook. These laws haven’t affected the wellbeing of society because the anxiety, stress, PTSD, aggression, insomnia can take its toll on a person. Maya Escobar at only eight years old was nearly shot in her own home. This experience taught her that there was always a threat of gun violence in her community: I stopped playing outside like I used to,” she says. “I started paying attention to the noises outside my house and wherever I went. I listened for any angry voices or people yelling at each other, because arguments can escalate quickly into violence” (KQED). This isn’t how any child should have to live. Being able to play outside freely should be part of the nature of childhood, and something that children should be able to take for granted. Even young adults in communities like this feel the pressure to carry a gun to protect themselves and their families. This is when school shootings can come into play. A student may feel threatened on a school campus and take things into their own hands. Situations like this can then escalate quickly.
As a result, within the past ten years, new technologies and procedures have been developed to protect students and faculty in these scenarios. Practice drills are now mandatory and a regular part of the school year. School rooms now have black sheets that are hung on doors and automatic locks to prevent attackers from being able to enter classrooms. While this is supposed to make students feel safe, it actually makes students feel more anxious because you never know when a drill happens if it’s real or just practice. It also gives kids the harsh reality of how violent the outside world can be and the damage that one person can do. And, now that mass shootings in movie theaters and clubs are televised, there is the sense that there no safe place where you can go and even places where you’d go to find joy can suddenly switch into a nightmare.
In different places in the world, guns are seen in very different ways. In some cultures guns are seen as hunting tools and it normalizes gun use. It makes weapons seem like just part of a way of life and a tool. In other cultures, guns are highly restricted and thus make children feel accustomed to that lifestyle. However the United States is at neither extreme: we do not regulate guns and yet they are very common. There is a lot of evidence to show that just being around firearms increases risk. Over 30,000 people die from guns each year, 68% of murders involve a gun. This doesn’t stop anyone from owning a gun or feeling as if it’s a normality to have one. It is also researched that homes with guns have 2.7 times increased risk of murder and 4.8 times the risk of suicide. Yet guns are viewed as protection. Why is this? Even after so much research has been proven to show the dangers of owning a gun people still think of it as a part of society.
Overall, Guns have a major influence on society in a numerous amount of ways. Children are now exposed to the news where they can see stories about mass shootings in places like schools and movie theatres. With this kind of access to the media, Kids are able to see things that no child should see. Some kids may also live in unsafe communities where guns are a constant worry. Certain cultures also have more acceptance than others of weaponry. So has this harsh reality affected society? Yes, and not for the better.