Comment | The St. Louis school shooting shows how gun control laws are failing | Media Pyro

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Gene Kuczka, 61, was a lifelong teacher and couldn’t imagine doing anything else. “I love teaching health and physical education and guiding students to make wise decisions,” her online biography reads. Alexandria Bell, 15, was a dancer with a great personality. “Beautiful inside and out,” said her high school principal. Both were killed in a mass school shooting in St. Louis on Monday. Seven other teenagers were injured. Countless students have been traumatized by fleeing in terror and seeing their classmates open fire.

Interim St. Louis Police Chief Michael Zack said of the shooting at Central Visual and Performing Arts High School. He was right. Had it not been for the heroic and unflinching actions of the police, who shot and killed the gunman within minutes of arriving at the school, many more people would have been killed and injured. But make no mistake, what happened in St. Louis — a teacher killed a girl who had her whole life ahead of her while protecting her students — is The worst. This is happening with tragic regularity in the United States.

According to the Washington Post, there have been at least 33 school shootings this year. Last year, there were 42 gun violence incidents during the school day on K-12 campuses, more than in any year since at least 1999, when a mass shooting at Columbine High School occurred. Since 1999, attacks on schools have killed at least 188 children, teachers and others and injured 389 others, The Post found. Since Columbine, more than 320,000 students have experienced gun violence at school.

The terror attack began at the Central Visual and Performing Arts High School shortly after 9am when a gunman smashed a window, broke down a door and opened fire into the school. Students barricaded themselves behind doors, huddled in classroom corners and jumped out of windows. A girl locked eyes with the shooter when her gun jammed and she was able to run. The gunman reportedly shouted “you’re all going to die” before shooting Ms Kuska.

The shooting was carried out by a 19-year-old former student at the school, who came armed with an AR-15-style rifle and 600 rounds of ammunition. How he got the weapon could be a case study in how flawed the nation’s gun laws are. Authorities said he legally bought the gun from a private individual after his attempts to buy it from a licensed dealer were thwarted by an FBI background check, apparently due to mental health issues. Nine days before the shooting, police were called to the gunman’s home and his family, concerned about mental health issues, asked authorities to remove the gun. The police found that he was legally allowed to possess the firearm. A third person known to the family took the rifle outside the house. Police are investigating how the gunman got the weapon back.

Missouri, which is notorious for having some of the weakest gun laws in the country, does not have a red flag law that provides legal aid to families to confiscate their guns. The state does not require background checks to buy or own firearms, and anyone 19 or older can legally conceal or openly carry firearms. The state enacted a measure last year barring police officers from enforcing federal gun laws, subjecting them to fines of up to $50,000.

How many more school shootings have to happen before Missouri wakes up? How many more before Congress enacts a national assault weapons ban and requires universal background checks?

Post View | About the Editorial Board

Editorials represent the views of The Washington Post, through debate among members of the editorial board, as an entity based on the opinion section and separate from the newsroom.

Editorial Board Members and Areas of Focus: Deputy Editorial Page Editor Karen Tumulty; Deputy Editorial Page Editor Ruth Marcus; Associate Editorial Page Editor Jo-Ann Armao (Education, DC Affairs); Jonathan Capehart (national politics); Lee Hockstader (immigration; issues affecting Virginia and Maryland); David E. Hoffman (Global Public Health); Charles Lane (Foreign Affairs, National Security, International Economics); Heather Long (Economics); Molly Roberts (Technology and Society); and Stephen Stromberg (Elections, White House, Congress, Legal Affairs, Energy, Environment, Health Care).

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