Era of Tragedy: The Nashville School Shooting


Mekhi Postell, Guest Writer

I love school. I love learning, finding out new things, hanging out with my friends, and pursuing my education in ways I never thought possible. Yet like many other Americans and teenagers my age, I live in fear that at any waking moment the sound of gunshots can ring in the air and, in an instant, my hopes of a future can be overtaken by a sudden fight for survival. Why? 

On March 27th, 2023, a mass shooting occurred in Nashville, Tennessee at the Covenant School, a private catholic school. Six innocent lives were taken that day. Three children: Evelyn Dieckhaus, Hallie Scruggs, and William Kinney—all nine years old—and three adults, Katherine Koonce, 60, Cynthia Peak, 61, and Mike Hill, also 61. The perpetrator used two types of assault-rifles, a common weapon amongst mass shooters, and a handgun. The shooting began at around 10:13 am CDT and ceased at 10:27 am due to police intervention—they were able to fatally shoot the perpetrator, resulting in her death. 

However, I’m not here to recite the timeline and details of the shooting. Instead, I am here to elaborate on the failed system that is the lack of proper gun control regulations and how the laziness in our system has led to the death of countless Americans. 14 minutes. 14 minutes is all it took to inflict so much damage. That is so little time, but for the victims involved, it cost them a lifetime. Perhaps the shooting lasted longer than 14 minutes; could you imagine how many more lives could’ve been taken away? Those three children never lived to see a decade. 

In 2022, the Gun Violence Archive counted approximately a whopping 648 mass shootings. Just in that one year. As of late-March of 2023, there have been 130 mass shootings alone this year. It wouldn’t surprise me if this number grows exponentially in the coming months. Why? 

Statistically, the chances of a mass shooting are rare and one is more likely to die of a disease or cancer than from the former. Nonetheless, due to the numbers of mass shootings increasing in the past year, the statistics and the odds of one being involved in a mass shooting grow higher. Of course—it may not be a huge percentage—but the odds still grow. In fact, I’d argue that school shootings and mass shootings in general are now ingrained in America’s culture. 

Take school, for instance. You’ll see and hear kids make juvenile or petty jokes revolving around shootings or guns, a sort-of coping mechanism to understand and adapt to the inadequate and problematic system on which the country has built itself. In this, we use entertainment as a means to distract ourselves from the serious problems regarding gun-control. Another example is how schools have adjusted to this seemingly “normal” environment. There are some institutions where the students have their bags wanded down or sent through a machine to detect anything that might be a danger to themselves or others. A private school in Albuquerque, New Mexico, was featured on Vice five years ago because of how their students are trained, through a self-defense elective, to seize and takedown the active shooter. This is the job of the upperclassmen, specifically the seniors, while the underclassmen are taught to hide or run. Run, Hide, Fight. A drill taught to students to remember their role during the event of an active shooter, with “fight” being the last resort. 

To me, the thought of the above measures enacted across America is absurd, to put it bluntly. Some could argue that these are necessary precautions and that this training is nothing compared to what could be done in preparation for such an event. What I don’t understand is why this has to be our normal. Why do we have to be subjected to such precautions?  No child should have to live in terror because someone could invade their school, killing their friends and potentially them. They shouldn’t have to hide to save their life, and they shouldn’t have to fight as a last resort of survival. Some of my friends have even expressed genuine worry about coming to school one day or the next, wondering if it’ll be their last. It’s insane that this is our modern America. I guarantee that, if you go online and search up mass shootings in America, you’ll find an extremely long list. It’ll be ranked from worst to least worst in terms of fatalities. It’s almost like a competition—which shooting can outdo the other? It’s revolting, but it’s normalized. Why? 

I suppose a better question to ask ourselves, however, is “what causes a mass shooting?” Well, the answer varies throughout. Some say mental illness or the desire to send a message, and incidents like Sandy Hook or Virginia Tech can justify this explanation. After extensive research on past mass shootings, immersing myself in both political views, I can confidently state that it is our current system of gun distribution that causes mass shootings. Let me explain: guns in this country are very easy to acquire. In Pennsylvania, one must be 21 years of age if they want to apply for a license to carry a firearm. They have to fill out an application and submit a fee of just $20. The entire process takes at least five minutes, and as long as you haven’t committed a major crime, you can get your gun permit within a couple hours to a few days—maybe a month at most. Congrats! That’s not all though, because an assault rifle, arguably the more exceptionally dangerous firearm, is just around $500-$2,000. Most handguns are just shy of $1,000 and lower. That’s practically rent. 

In other states like Texas, you can own any firearm that is an assault rifle (AR-15s, for example) at the age of 18, but not handguns. This is because handguns can be concealed, and in order to permit a concealed firearm, you need to be 21 years of age. Now, if you were a convicted felon or have committed a serious crime, it would be harder for an approval to carry. But most mass shooters are usually young, and when you’re young, you have a pretty clean record. In short, it is very possible for the average American to arm themselves with a firearm in the span of a week. The process is easier than applying to college; you fill out what the reciprocant wants to hear, pay a fee, then wait a few days to a week and maybe a month at best. You don’t need any prior training, passing grade on a test, or written statement. You can, quite literally, just get one. In countries like Japan where the gun laws are super strict, it takes months before you can get a weapon. Truth be told, the gun laws are so strict that, in 2018, the total population of Japan at the time was 126 million people and only nine people died from firearms. To even qualify, you must attend an all-day class, which includes a written and shooting range test, both of which  require an accuracy of at least 95%. Then, you must go through a mental-health evaluation, drug tests, extensive background check, and family and friends must give a review on how you are as a person. Think of it like recommendations for college or a job. Lastly, if you pass and ever obtain the firearm, you need to register your weapon with law enforcement and provide details of where your gun and ammunition is stored. The process is tedious and strict—as it should be. 

Japan’s strict gun laws have kept shooting-related crimes extremely low; handguns are outlawed and crimes in general are simply rare. 

With all that being said, we are living in an era of tragedy. It feels like each day there is another mass shooting. The anxiety, stress, and fear that comes from being a student or teacher is not imaginary. School shootings and mass shootings happen because our system is failing and gun-control laws in the U.S. could be so much better. There are too many cracks people have slipped through and used to their advantage. Mass shootings happen because we unintentionally allow our system to actively encourage it.