Gun Violence Is a Public Health Crisis: It’s Time to Talk About It 

By: Nicole Chedraoui 

Warning: This article depicts graphic mentions and imagery of gun violence and mass shootings. If you or somebody you love has fallen victim or experienced the terrifying impacts of gun violence, we at the Herald see you and stand with you in solidarity.

October 5th, 2022: Baytown, Texas 

5 dead. 2 injured. 

October 9th, 2022: Henryetta, Oklahoma 

4 dead. 

October 13th, 2022: Raleigh, North Carolina 

5 dead. 3 injured. 

October 15th, 2022: Itta Benna, Massachusetts 

2 Dead. 7 injured 

October 21st, 2022: Hartland, Wisconsin 

6 dead. 

October 24th, 2022: Saint Louis, Missouri 

3 dead. 4 injured. 

Today, as I write this article, it is October 26th, 2022. There have been 299 days of 2022, and since January 1st, 559 mass shootings in the United States. 

560 individuals dead.

2,335 permanently injured.

Over 249 school shootings occurred in 2021, the highest number in the last 50 years, leaving 7,957 children and teens shot per year. 

In 2019, the US ranked 2nd in the number of gun-related deaths annually. 

This is not normal.

This should not be tolerated. 

Gun violence is a public health crisis. 

October 13th in Raleigh, NC 

As an 18-year-old who has lived in the United States her whole life, I have never once remembered being shocked at the news. Mass shootings in the South were as common as thunderstorms and getting a gun is easier than sitting through the DMV to get your driver’s license. It’s a horrific, disgusting, and dreadful truth. And it wasn’t ‘til around 6pm on October 13th when I saw gun violence come knocking on the door of my hometown. 

A 15-year-old traipsing through the Neuse River Greenway with a backpack of weaponry, a hunting knife, a shotgun, and a mindset ready to kill. Clad in a full camouflage suit, Austin Thompson would go on to take 5 lives that night. 5 beautiful souls had their life cut too short in the neighborhood of Hedingham–before a single active shooter alert could be sent to nearby communities. 

This article is for 52-year-old Nicole Connors, who never made it back home to watch her favorite Marvel movie, Black Panther, with her husband.

It’s for 49-year-old Susan Karnatz, who was a brilliant child psychologist and an absolute light to her 3 little kids. 

It’s for 35-year-old Mary Marshall, who lost her life trying to save her dog, and will never get to walk down the aisle next month for her wedding. 

It’s for 29-year-old Gabriel Torres, who left behind his beautiful 2-year-old daughter that day he put on his police badge. 

And finally, it’s for James Thompson, a 16-year-old boy and junior at Knightdale High School, who left this world way too soon 

Today, I grieve and plead with you, my very own community which has experienced so much loss, to hear out my call to action. In our grief and despair, now is the time to be angry. Raleigh, North Carolina is not the first to experience a mass shooting and certainly will not be the last. Gun control is our only option. 

Let’s Talk About Gun Control 

Would you believe me if I told you gun violence is the second leading cause of death in adolescents in the United States? The first, unsurprisingly, is automobile crashes, ranking at 20% of death in youths, but the second is gun violence with a whopping 15% of deaths being attributed to guns. The American Journal of Public Health found that the “legal purchase of a handgun appears to be associated with a long-lasting increased risk of violent death.” On March 10th of 2016, Lancet released a shocking article that found the implementation of universal background checks for firearms reduces deaths by a projected average of 56.9%. Additionally, background checks for ammunition purchases showed to further reduce deaths by 80.7%, and gun identification requirements could lessen deaths by 82.5%. All in all, gun licensing laws have been roughly associated with a 14% reduction in firearm homicides while areas that promote the right to carry firearms showed an increase in homicides.

What about Self-Defense? 

When speaking about gun control to those who are skeptics, the most common reply you will receive is “what about self-defense?” While I hear this argument, I counter you with this: guns are rarely used for self-defense. Between 2007 and 2011, approximately 29,618,300 violent crimes were committed using firearms, a record .79% of victims actually used their firearm for “threat of use” or ACTUAL use of self-protection. In 2010, there were 230 justifiable homicides in which private citizens put their firearm to use to kill a felon, whereas in comparison, there were 8,275 criminal gun homicides. If you do the math, that’s basically 36 criminal homicides for every one justifiable homicide. There were 84,495,500 property crimes committed between 2007 and 2011 and only .12% of victims protected themselves with the use of a firearm. This begs the question: if so many people are purchasing firearms and not truly using them for self-defense, why do they really need to own one? A follow-up question, why does one need a military-grade automatic weapon for self-defense? What benefit is it truly serving? Does the benefit outweigh the fatal impacts? The answer is no. 

Criminals Probably Get Their Guns Illegally Anyway. 

Have you ever heard somebody say, “if a criminal wants a gun, they’ll get a gun?” That’s true and usually legally too! A June 2013 Institute of Medicine report found that “almost all guns used in criminal acts enter circulation via initial legal transaction.” So let’s break this down and take a 5-year period into account again–such as 2005-2010. Between these years, 1.4 MILLION guns were stolen from US homes during petty property crimes  (i.e. car theft or burglary). Ian Ayres, JD, Ph.D., and John J. Donohue, Ph.D., are both professors of law at Yale Law School and Stanford Law School. They stated, “with guns being a product that can be easily carried away and quickly sold at a relatively high fraction of the initial cost, the presence of more guns can actually serve as a stimulus to burglary and theft. Even if the gun owner had a permit to carry a concealed weapon and would never use it in furtherance of a crime, is it likely that the same can be said for the burglar who steals the gun?” 

Aren’t Background Checks Just Common Sense??

You may be shocked to know that in 2018 97% of American voters and 97% of gun owners are actually in support of universal background checks. An additional 67% are in support of a nationwide ban on assault weapons. Roughly 40% of all gun sales that take place in America are undocumented and/or private-party gun sales, meaning they require no background check AT ALL. You could have been convicted of murder and be willingly handed a firearm with no questions asked. If so many people are in support of implementing this change nationwide, what is truly stopping us from taking action? Furthermore, if you truly were using a gun for reputable and legal purposes, why would further background checks be considered a problem? 

“Taking Away Guns Isn’t Going to Solve the Problem” 

While I could sit on a sofa chair and argue this statement for hours on end, I thought what better way to spread global awareness and prove my point than to demonstrate a handful of countries who quite literally SOLVED this problem years ago. As I’ve stated before, mass shootings are a very AMERICAN thing; several countries around the world don’t ever experience this day-to-day trauma on their morning news binge. 

Here are a few countries that proved taking away guns can solve the problem. 


For those who have done their research, you most likely know that Australia is the world’s absolute role-model country when it comes to gun violence. The reform occurred after the Port Arthur Massacre that tragically left 35 dead in 1996. After such a tragic mass shooting, Australia took no more than two weeks to respond to their first notable mass shootings and declared fundamental changes be made for the security of all citizens. They ended up landing on an agreement called the National Agreement on Firearms which highly stiffened licensing and ownership rules and instituted a gun buyback program that removed 65,000 assault rifles from the general public. After a small-scale shooting in Melbourne in 2002, Australia tightened their handgun rules for the last time, and analysts noted that the decline in gun-death rates was ASTRONOMICAL. For Australia, 35 people had to die for change to be made. In the US, tens of thousands have to die. Australia has not had a mass shooting since 1996. We’ve had 559 this year. The US has had about 37,000 gun-related deaths while Australia has had around 200. 


Unlike the US, Canada’s gun laws are some of the strictest in the world. The Canadian capital Ottawa sets the federal gun restriction laws for all of the provinces and territories. These federal regulations require all gun owners to be at least 18 years of age, have a license, pass a strict background check, and attend a public-safety course. Ordinary rifles and shotguns are non-restricted, handguns and semi-automatics are restricted, and fully automatic weapons and military-grade weapons are prohibited. People who want to purchase, say, a regular handgun would have to first have a federal registration certificate (which is a long and descriptive process.) The US has had about 37,000 gun-related deaths, and Canada has had around 800. 


After two tragic school shootings in Finland (all within one year of each other), Finland’s lawmaker’s raised the minimum age to purchase a firearm to 20 for short weapons and 18 for long guns. Finland’s foreign minister admitted that “nobody needs to have a gun at home.” The newly amended gun control act would strictly prohibit the purchase of pistols and revolvers for Finnish citizens; additionally, in many cases, those going to purchase a gun would be asked for a health and wellness background check by a licensed professional. It took Finland 18 deaths to right their wrongs. The US has had 559 this year. The US has had about 37,000 gun-related deaths, whereas Finland has had around 161. 

Thinking change isn’t possible is ignorant

Thinking guns aren’t the problem is ignorant

Thinking guns are more important than our children is disgusting

Sweeping daily mass shootings under the rug is disgusting

Gun violence is happening every day. Lives are being lost every day. Our lawmakers are failing us every day. Our children risk their lives every day. Our generation is scared every day

This isn’t politics, this isn’t controversial, this is a matter of humanity. Who are we if we have no empathy for others? If we don’t hear our neighbors plead for help? If we do nothing in the face of constant injustice? Today we say their names: 

Nicole Conners 

Mary Marshall 

Gabriel Torres 

Susan Karnatz 

James Thompson 

I am so hopelessly sorry. I’m sorry our country failed you. We’ll be better for you, lobbying change for you, for your family, for your legacy. 

Now is the time for empathy. 

For healing.

And grieving.

And change. 

If you’re not angry, you’re not listening. 


Parker, G. (2020, April 8). 10 countries where gun reform laws irrefutably work. Money Inc. Retrieved October 30, 2022, from 

Pros & Cons – Gun Control. (2022, January 26). Retrieved October 30, 2022, from 

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