The flag flies at half-mast


Photo courtesy of Charger Bulletin/Mia Adduci.

The flag outside of the library remains at half-mast, West Haven, April 16, 2023.

I was walking to my workplace when I saw the flag at half-mast which I assumed was for mourning the loss of the five people killed in the Louisville bank shooting and the one person killed in the Jefferson Community and Technical College shooting. Or maybe it was mourning the loss of the three nine-year-old students and three staff workers in the Nashville Covenant School shooting? Even as I am writing this, there was a shooting which injured four people in Paterson, N.J. The flag seems to perpetually mourn the loss of innocent lives. It leads me to wonder, though; when was the last time the flag wasn’t at half-mast?

In 2023 alone, the United States experienced 146 mass shootings, meaning there have been more shootings than days in the year. The numbers are staggering – more than 12,000 people have died due to gun violence, with around 43% of these deaths being attributed to homicide or unintentional incidents. The remaining 57% of deaths are from suicide; it seems there is no end to this violence.

What is even more concerning is the lack of meaningful action being taken to address the issue. Instead, some lawmakers have made it easier to obtain firearms and have suppressed oppositional voices. In the aftermath of the Covenant School shooting in Nashville, Tenn., two black Democratic legislators, Justin Jones and Justin Pearson, were expelled by the Republican-controlled House for participating in a protest advocating for stricter gun laws. While a third participant, white Democratic legislator Gloria Johnson, narrowly escaped her expulsion vote. The House cited the violation of the decorum rule as the reason for their expulsion, but I can’t help but wonder if this was truly the motivation behind their decision. On April 3, governor Ron DeSantis (R-Fla.), signed a bill allowing residential gun-owners to carry a concealed loaded weapon without a permit. Unfortunately, Florida was not alone. In fact, it is the 26th state to authorize some form of permitless carry.

I am tired of the constant gun violence plaguing our nation and Congress’ lack of action on this issue. It is high time that we implement a federal assault weapons ban to curb the proliferation of deadly weapons in our society. The fear of being caught in a shooting has become a part of everyday life. I can’t even go see a movie without constantly scanning for suspicious characters and identifying possible exit routes; the 2012 “Dark Knight Rises” Colorado shooting where twelve people were killed is still fresh in my mind. Although we live in a state that has stricter gun laws, the recent gun-point robbery on our campus is a stark reminder that no place is entirely safe from gun violence. Even New Haven experienced an increase in gun-related crimes this year, but criminal justice experts warn against accrediting this uptick as a significant trend. Even if it isn’t the norm, it is still a tragic reminder of the need to confront and combat this violence.
It’s time for our leaders to take action and put an end to this senseless violence. We need to see change that will make our communities safer for everyone. I want to see our flag fly at full-staff again, not as a symbol of mourning but as a sign of hope for a brighter future. We owe it to the victims of these tragedies to do something.