America in 2023


The conversations of U.S. politics have been shifted towards the morality of gun rights due to the overwhelming amounts of mass shootings.

Something needs to be done. 

As of Feb. 6, there have been a total of 60 mass shootings in the U.S. alone.  

If you didn’t realize, that means there have been more mass shootings than calendar days this year, and the most at this point in a year in over a decade. Looking around, it is clear that this is an issue rooted deeply in our nation. Adults and teens have continued to use their voice, and while opposing each other at times, both sides agree something needs to be done. 

The line between regulating gun violence and the second amendment right has become a common argument in politics throughout the last few years, and for good reason. Last year in 2022, we had a total of 647 mass shootings. The year before that we had 690. So far in 2023, people have suffered from 52 mass shootings. A record breaking amount that sets the most at this point in a year since 2013. At this rate, 2023 is expected to have similar numbers to the previous three years. While there is no consensus as to what identifies as a mass shooting, multiple sources, including the CNN and the Gun Violence Archive  label it as a shooting in which four or more individuals were injured or killed not including the shooter.   

Annual mass shootings have been on a rapid rise over the years. (Graphic: Braylen Ferrell)

Of these shootings, California has suffered the most casualties with three shootings taking place this month, tallying over 35 deaths in total. The deadliest event took place in Monterey Park as the city’s Asian American community was celebrating the Lunar New Year. However, a scene of agony and chaos would bring the party to a close, as a mass shooting claiming the lives of 12 individuals would occur. This shooting has now taken place as the deadliest since the Uvalde massacre that took place in May of 2022. 

Americans are armed like no others. It is a simple fact. According to a 2018 study by the Small Arms Survey, there are over 393 million privately owned firearms in the U.S. alone. To put that into perspective, that means there are over 120 firearms for every 100 American individuals. Looking at these numbers, there are still things to consider, such as unregistered or illegal weapons. Regardless, we are the only country on the planet with more firearms than people. 


The United States has the third largest population in the world. However, we still double the amount of registered firearms as China and India, which have the two largest populations in the world. (Graphic: Braylen Ferrell)

These kinds of numbers have produced staggering statistics, such as gun related injuries ranking as the leading cause of death for people aged 24 and younger per a study done by the American Academy of Pediatrics. Or the fact there were 153 school shootings in 2022 alone.  

However, things don’t have to be like this. We stand alone on this topic. The United Kingdom tightened its gun laws and banned most private gun ownership after a mass shooting in 1996. This move ended in a quarter drop of gun related deaths. In Australia, a quick change to gun laws following their worst mass shooting, banning automatic weapons and shotguns, as well as unifying gun owner licensing and registration across the country to settle the panic. The result? A 50% drop in gun related deaths in 10 years. 

“I think that it should be a much more regulated thing because if we’re putting an age limit on things like alcohol because our brains aren’t fully developed, then why are we allowed to purchase a firearm? It just doesn’t make sense to put a border between age and privileges but not being able to buy a gun,” Octavia Fogle said, who has been involved in online action against gun violence. The U.S. has built a confusing system in which teenagers are able to own a weapon capable of killing, before they are even able to order a drink. “People should be allowed to own firearms because it’s a protected second amendment right, but there should also be more restrictions, background checks, more training, things like that,” Fogle said. Around the country, purchasing a firearm is as easy as buying your groceries, literally. Large corporations such as Walmart have firearms, along with ammunition, open for purchase. Anyone over the age of 18 is able to purchase them as long as they have identification, with little to no background checks. 

“Handguns are something that people should be able to have for protection, and I understand that. But weapons like assault rifles and shotguns are too much. You don’t need that.” Fogle said. In high casualty shootings, it is almost always at the hands of a rapid fire weapon or shotgun. In many cases they are obtained illegally, and sometimes legally. Regardless, everyday people are able to get their hands on these types of weapons. Now this isn’t to say that handguns are innocent. In fact they actually make up the majority of cases. “Not really [to less firearms in circulation]. I believe the punishment for abusing firearms should be more severe, and those who don’t secure their weapon should face some sort of punishment. But taking guns away from good people isn’t the answer.” Leonard Engler said, a firm believer and user in the second amendment right to bear arms.  Again, many people own firearms for their own protection. However, it is the few that take advantage of the easiness to obtain them that cause so much conflict.

The types of weapons used have changed throughout the years. One constant is that handguns are a typical sight in mass shootings. However, in 2022, semi automatic weapons reached a new high in mass shootings. (Graphic: Braylen Ferrell)

“Not really [less firearms in circulation]. I believe the punishment for abusing firearms should be more severe, and those who don’t secure their weapon should face some sort of punishment. But taking guns away from good people isn’t the answer,” Leonard Engler said, a firm believer and user of the second amendment right to bear arms. Again, many people own firearms for their own protection. However, it is the few that take advantage of the ease of obtaining them that cause so much conflict. 

Another common argument isn’t in the guns themselves, rather the people who own them. “Background checks are not just for people like me and you who comply with laws. They are made for unstable people and criminals,” Engler said. The problem with this is found in the background checks, or lack thereof. In most cases, a background check simply shows the criminal record of an individual, and a vague one of that. One crucial detail that often gets left out is the mental condition of the individual looking to purchase. “Society in itself, there is so much turmoil by those who have extreme opinions. They feel they have the answers to end certain things. Guns are blamed for violence and deaths but in the long run it is the people that cause such things. If they want you dead they will find the means,” Engler said. A common factor in many if not all mass shootings is their motive. Many are trying to prove a point against another group and the cycle goes on.  

Even if you take guns away from people, they will find another way to do harm. Whether it’s a knife, or a vehicle, or a brick. If they want to commit an act of violence they are going to find a way to do so. The best way to stop it is to find a way to stop the evilness here.

— Leonard Engler

America’s gun culture is an outlier around the globe, and because of this, the gun violence cycle will continue on unless something changes.