By: Keilany Ligons
On Tuesday, November 30, Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard received over a hundred 911 calls reporting a shooting at Oxford High School. The shooter was 15 year old Ethan Crumbley, a student at the school, who murdered 4 kids and injured 6 more and one teacher. Ethan is currently in custody and will be tried as an adult.
After more evidence was revealed on him and his parents’ actions before the shooting, his parents were charged with manslaughter, but went missing not long after. Fortunately, after hours of searching, they were found in a Detroit warehouse and are now in custody as well. This occurred just a week after Kyle Rittenhouse was acquitted of all the charges he faced after shooting two people at a Black Lives Matter protest in Kenosha, killing one of them.
Moments like these are when articles like this one start to resurface. And since we keep having these moments, we keep seeing these articles. But as long as it continues, it has to be addressed. This article will address different topics regarding gun violence in America. This isn’t written by a politician, or a news reporter, or a cop. Just a person who is, and can continue to be affected, as long as these things go on.
Gun Laws & Restrictions
The age requirement to purchase a firearm has small differences between every state. Overall, citizens must be 18 or older to buy a long gun, and 21 to buy a handgun. Giving guns to people who are barely adults is a problem on its own, but there are several states that aren’t strict about the laws the way that they should be. Many gun laws also contain loopholes and “what ifs” in them, such as allowing a child to wield a gun because their parents gave them permission, the child having a hunting license, or a child getting their hands on a gun their parents have at home just because they knew where it was.
While there are already laws and regulations on guns, there are still many states that do not enforce them as often as they should, and many states that have a much smaller amount of provisions on guns than others. A CNBC article from 2018 shows a chart of the amount of gun deaths compared to gun laws in each state using data on firearm deaths collected by the CDC and data on gun laws collected by the Boston University School of Public Health. The chart shows that as of 2016 California has over 100 gun laws and is one of the states with the least amount of gun deaths.
Gun violence has been a consistent issue in America and it hasn’t felt like we’ve been getting any further in fixing it. This year saw 657 mass shootings in America. That’s close to twice as many times as there are days in a year. An article by Science states that in 2018, nearly 40,000 people were killed by firearms. The article also states that if certain gun laws are enforced, gun deaths could be reduced by 10%. There are people who strongly argue that making it harder for people to own guns will change nothing, but it has been shown that if there are more regulations, especially ones that will prevent children to have such easy access to guns as just looking in their dad’s closet, it’ll be less likely that these tragedies happen.
There has always been a strong argument of whether or not things like school shootings happen due to the influence kids get from violent video games like Call of Duty or from violent movies and TV shows. This topic has come up around several different issues and people have always shown to have mixed opinions on it. It isn’t necessarily right or wrong that violence in the media influences people to act violently. Media has an effect on people. Whether it be to make us believe in stereotypes or convince us to buy something or to gain inspiration or information, that’s exactly what the media is for. But at the same time, people have control over how they view things and what to do with what they take from it.
Since everyone has easy access to it, the media makes us used to seeing things on a regular basis, like violence and death. We see it on the news every morning and night. We see it in movies and video games. We can see it on Instagram or Twitter after barely scrolling through for five minutes. We see it all the time. And no one likes to see it, but everyone is so used to seeing it to the point that we’re practically numb to it, until it actually happens to us.
Any time something happens everyone is “sending out thoughts and prayers” and “having a heavy heart”. Then they turn off their phones and move on with their day. There are, of course, people who are able to help through action like petitions and speaking to political officials, and there are people who can’t help in that way and that’s the most they can do, but this is something we as a society are so used to doing. A big reason why is because the media makes us used to it, which isn’t entirely a good or bad thing in itself. But this shows that people are affected by the media regardless of how, so it isn’t entirely wrong to assume that people can also be influenced to act violently by the media.
Despite this, people have the capability to understand that a movie can just be a movie. We are used to seeing things like this regularly, but we’re able to understand that they’re wrong. The people who tend to take influence from violence in the media and act on it tend to be the ones who already wanted to.
The first picture here is Ethan Crumbley’s mugshot after being arrested for the Oxford shooting. The second picture is of him several years ago that many media outlets are using in their coverage of what happened. After Treyvon Martin was killed by a police officer while unarmed, media outlets used pictures of him smoking and putting up his middle finger in their coverage of the story. That is just part of a long history of racial bias in crime reporting, infantilizing white convicts and over-criminalizing Black and other POC convicts and even victims. White murderers have articles written on them that use anything to make them seem more innocent to pull away from or justify their behavior. Meanwhile, people of color have always had a vilified picture presented of them while stories and topics focusing on their communities and issues received much less attention.
A good example of this is the reaction of the former President, Donald Trump, to the Black Lives Matter protests of last year compared to his reaction to the attack on the Capitol that happened at the beginning of this year. Last year, peaceful protesters were arrested, tear gassed, and shot at with rubber bullets by law enforcement. Donald Trump made many statements on the matter, refering to the protesters as “thugs” and “terrorists” while openly supporting and allowing the violence being inflicted on them. However, when his supporters invaded the Capitol on January 6, charging past barricades, severely injuring and killing some law enforcement, Trump released a statement, calling them “very special” and “great patriots”. This among many other instances during Trump’s term, showed once again that his values lied more with protecting the image of white Americans than protecting the lives of Black Americans.
Another example is the result of the shooting. Ethan was able to be taken into custody alive with a firearm hours after he was allowed back to class after looking up gun ammo and drawing disturbing pictures of people dying. Kyle Rittenhouse gave the police a thumbs up before shooting at protesters. Dylan Roof was escorted to Burger King by the police after he killed 9 people at a Black Church in Charleston. Even though it shouldn’t be the case, a big reason why these things happened is because they are all white. People have seen over and over again instances of Black people being mistreated and even killed by the police while unarmed, for doing things like walking down the street, or running a red light, or sleeping in their own home. Black people have to walk around knowing they already have a target on their back and people already have some type of image in their heads of them. It’s never hard to imagine what the alternative result could have been if the suspect was Black.