Issue 4 Editorial: Gun control is not enough

Head Editorial Board

The response to 39 mass shootings in 2023 alone has been a mix of indignation and sympathy, but pleas for gun control were trending particularly after a gunman opened fire in Monterey Park, a predominantly-Asian suburb on Lunar New Year’s Eve. 

While the recent high-profile shootings are a startling reminder of our close proximity to gun violence, we at The Hoofprint believe gun control is not the cure-all for preventing massacres. Though the Monterey Park shooter was an older, Asian man motivated by personal conflict within his community, power imbalances within American society undoubtedly play a role in perpetuating gun violence. 

In the Half Moon Bay shooting, gunman Chunli Zhao shot seven people at his rural agricultural farm because of personal conflict along with long hours and below-minimum wage pay, according to a state investigation by Gov. Gavin Newsom. Whether it be income instability or simply indignation, there are underlying reasons as to why people become reactionary. The more recent pattern of older, Asian men perpetrating mass violence speaks to a truth: while gun violence is an obscurity in their home countries, it is commonplace in America. Targeted violence doesn’t go away even if guns do. 

Within American society, guns serve as assault weapons. While access to guns facilitates murder, the drive to kill doesn’t necessarily originate from guns: the motivation to eat doesn’t come from food, but from hunger. Gun culture courses through American political and economic systems, which motivate people to acquire power. The accessibility of guns embolden privileged groups to attack others and further harm marginalized people. 

Gun control is a temporary solution whose be-all end-all advocates threaten to erase the systemic issues causing people to become reactionary. It’s tacky for lawmakers to bait voters with a negligible guarantee of safety from mass shootings soon after offering their thoughts and prayers to victims’ families. A bill banning assault weapons might garner support for their campaigns, but politicans should reevaluate the efficacy of such short-term solutions. 

Evidently, a gun control bill President Biden signed into law in June 2022 has failed to curb mass shootings. A ban on guns would be equally ineffective without also giving immediate attention to structural failures — which only seem to reveal themselves more with every mass shooting.