On Nov. 5, a man opened fire inside a Texas Baptist church, killing 26 people — half of whom were children. This unimaginable act of violence, has "earned" a spot on a list no community wants to be a part of. Following yet another horrific mass shooting in the United States, the list of most deadly shootings in the nation has again shifted. In fact, Columbine is no longer one of the 10 deadliest shootings in the U.S. — and three of the 10 happened in the last year.
Yes, you read that correctly. CNN reported that the mass shooting at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado, now sits at number 11. Let that sink in for a moment. On April 20, 1999, two students walked into school armed with a number of weapons and killed 12 students and one teacher and then committed suicide.
The most recent mass shooting in Sutherland Springs, Texas now rests at the number five spot on the list of deadliest mass shootings. Here's the entire rundown of the top 10 deadliest shootings in the U.S., according to CNN:
- The Harvest Music Festival, Oct. 1, 2017: 58 killed
- Pulse night club, June 12, 2016: 49 killed
- Virginia Tech, April 16, 2007: 32 killed
- Sandy Hook, Dec. 14, 2012: 27 killed
- First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Nov. 5, 2017: 26 killed
- Luby's Cafeteria, Killeen, Texas, Oct. 16, 1991: 23 killed
- McDonald's in San Ysidro, California, July 18, 1984: 21 killed
- University of Texas, Aug. 1, 1966: 18 killed
- San Bernardino, Dec. 2, 2015: 14 killed
- Edmond, Oklahoma, Aug. 20, 1986: 14 killed
- Columbine High School, April 20, 1999: 13 killed
In the wake of the mass shooting in Texas, American citizens and lawmakers are again asking themselves: What can we do prevent this from happening again? Because without action, it's only a matter of time until more people die in a mass attack. Contacting your state representatives is one simple way you can make your voice heard. Visit this website to connect with representatives and senators from your state.
Something else you can do is make sure to vote in local elections for officials who will vote for gun reform. Because although, yes, there are plenty of guns in other countries, there are also many fewer incidences of gun violence overall when compared to the U.S., as the result of those countries' stricter laws regarding who can own firearms. In July 2015, David Hemenway, director of the Harvard Injury Control Research Center and Harvard Youth Violence Prevention Center, explained:
The U.S. is average in terms of non-gun violence and non-gun crime. But we have many more guns, and much weaker gun laws, and thus far more gun deaths (e.g., gun homicides and overall homicides) than other developed nations. Not surprisingly, we also have many more mass shootings per capita.
Hemenway went on to use another developed country as an example of how gun safety policies can make a positive impact. He explained, according to a Harvard News article:
Australia, for example, reportedly had 13 gun massacres in the 18 years before the Port Arthur tragedy in 1996. The government's response to that tragedy was a massive mandatory buyback program of semi-automatic long-guns and a tightening of their gun laws. In the 18 years since, Australia has not reported a single mass shooting.
Upcoming elections for state representatives and senators — with many being held Tuesday, actually — include the following, according to Usvotefoundation.org:
- Alabama: US Senate Special Election: Tuesday, Dec. 12, 2017; State House District 21 Special General Election: Tuesday, March 27, 2018
- Florida: State House District 58 Special Election: Tuesday, Dec. 19, 2017; State House District 72 Special General Election: Tuesday, Feb. 13, 2018
- Georgia: Georgia House District 42, 117, 119, 89, 39, 6 Special Election: Tuesday, Nov. 7, 2017; State House District 72 Special Primary Election: Tuesday, Dec. 5, 2017
- Maine Special Election for State Representative District 56 (Lisbon Only): Tuesday, Nov. 7, 2017
- Massachusetts: Massachusetts State Legislature Special Election: Tuesday, Nov.7, 2017; Special State General Election Worcester & Middlesex Senatorial District: Tuesday, Dec. 5, 2017
- Michigan: Michigan State Legislature Special Election: Tuesday, Nov. 7, 2017
- Mississippi: Mississippi State Legislature Special Election: Tuesday, Nov. 7, 2017; Mississippi State Senate District 10 Special Election: Tuesday, Nov. 7, 2017
- New Hampshire: New Hampshire State Representative Election: Tuesda, Nov. 7, 2017
- Oklahoma: State House Special Election, State Senate District 27 Special Primary Election, State Senate Special Election; Tuesday, Nov. 14, 2017
- South Carolina: State House of Representatives District 113 Special General Election: Tuesday, Nov. 7; State House of Representatives District 28 Special General Election: Tuesday, Jan. 16, 2018
- Tennessee: Senate District 17 Special General Election: Tuesday, Dec. 19, 2017; Senate District 17 Special Primary Election: Tuesday, Nov. 7, 2017
- Utah: Third Congressional District Special General Election: Tuesday, Nov. 7, 2017; U.S. House of Representatives Special Election: Tuesday, Nov. 7, 2017
- Virginia: Virginia House of Delegates Elections: Tuesday, Nov. 7, 2017; State Legislature Special Election: Tuesday, Nov. 7, 2017
If we want to put an end to mass shootings once and for all in the U.S., policy surrounding gun safety needs to change. This is something we can no longer ignore. And the change starts with us. Make sure your voice is heard.