Mass Shootings Might Be Beyond the Reach of the Law

Legislation is not enough to stem the tide of gun violence in the U.S.

Pax Ahimsa Gethen

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Two hands hold up a sign reading “We Can End Gun Violence”. A small circular sticker on the sign reads “March For Our Lives”. Photo by Pax Ahimsa Gethen, CC BY-SA 4.0.

In the wake of yet another mass shooting in the U.S., Texas lawmakers voted today to advance a bill raising to 21 the minimum age for buying a semi-automatic weapon. Family members of the victims of last year’s elementary school massacre in Uvalde cheered and wept tears of joy.

With sincere respect to these families, even if this bill does become law, I really don’t think this legislation will result in a noticeable reduction of people killed in school shootings. I must emphasize that I do not agree in any way with the National Rifle Association’s stance that the solution to “bad guys” with guns is to arm more “good guys” with guns. As I have posted repeatedly, I am a pacifist, and I oppose any and all use of firearms.

Rather, I see our culture of gun glorification as the root cause that must be addressed if we’re to stem the tide of these mass shootings. Yet, I do recognize the good faith of those who push for more gun control legislation. So I did a bit of research¹ on the deadliest school shootings in U.S. history to illustrate my doubts about the effectiveness of raising the minimum age requirement.

  • The 2007 Virginia Tech shooting, killing 33 people (including the perpetrator), was committed by a man who was 23 years old at the time he legally purchased the weapons used in the attack. He would not have been impacted by this bill.
  • The 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary shooting, killing 28 people (including the perpetrator), was committed by a 20-year-old who used weapons that were legally purchased by his mother.
  • The 1966 University of Texas tower shooting, killing 18 people (including the perpetrator), was committed by a man who was 25 years old at the time he legally purchased the weapons used in the attack. He would not have been impacted by this bill.
  • The 1999 Columbine shooting, killing 15 people (including both perpetrators), was committed by two minors, aged 17 and 18. Of the four guns they used in the shooting, three of them were purchased for them by a friend, and one was sold to them illegally.
  • The 2018 Santa Fe High School shooting…

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Pax Ahimsa Gethen

Queer agender trans male. Black vegan atheist, pacifist. Pronouns: they/them/their. funcrunch.org, patreon.com/funcrunch