Nashville Shooting Sparks Controversy

On Monday, March 27, three students and three faculty members were killed in a tragic school shooting at Covenant School in Nashville, Tennessee. Just hours after the shooting, many have begun discussing the root of this issue in our country and are blaming the incident on the suspect’s gender identity.

Shooter, Aiden Hale, fired shots at a glass door and entered through the opening. Armed with three weapons, Hale killed six victims including custodian Mike Hill, as well as students Evelyn Dieckhaus, William Kinney and Hallie Scruggs, substitute teacher Cynthia Peak and Principal Katherine Koonce. Minutes after the shooter was detected in the building, police entered and searched for his whereabouts. Police were able to take quick action and found and fired four rounds at the shooter who was seen collapsing on body camera footage. 

Hale was 28 years old and a former Covenant School student. He carefully planned the attack and had various maps and drawings of the school as well as sketches that mapped out how he would enter the building.

Police have confirmed that Hale was transgender and requested that he be referred to by the name Aiden as well as male pronouns, though many reporting on the shooting have failed to do so. Hale’s motives remain unclear and it is unknown whether bullying or mental health issues played a role in the tragedy. Due to Hale’s gender identity, many people have claimed that the shooting is a trans issue rather than a gun control issue. 

Political columnist Benny Johnson, tweeted, “The Colorado Springs shooter identified as nonbinary. The Denver shooter identified as trans. The Aberdeen shooter identified as trans. The Nashville shooter identified as trans. One thing is VERY clear: the modern trans movement is radicalizing activists into terrorists.”

Attempts to highlight a correlation between trans people and acts of violence have no merit, as cis-gendered men have accounted for the majority of mass shootings in the past. Trans people have overwhelmingly proven to be victims of acts of violence and prejudice rather than the perpetrators. 

Johnson pointed to shootings carried out by trans shooters during the years 2018, 2019, 2022 and 2023. Of the 1,529 shootings which occurred during these years, trans people make up 0.3 percent of all perpetrators during this time frame, in contrast to 99.7 percent of cis-gendered culprits. Though four transgendered shooters may seem like a big number, many fail to realize that we average more than one mass shooting per day, and the overwhelming majority of shooters do not fall under the trans category.

Georgia Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene shared on Twitter, “How much hormones like testosterone and medications for mental illness was the transgender Nashville school shooter taking? Everyone can stop blaming guns now.”

The false notion that mass shootings can be explained by the rise in transgendered youth fits the existing anti-trans rhetoric which presents trans people as dangerous criminals. To divert from the true root of the gun violence issue in the United States is to dismiss something that takes the lives of Americans every day. 

“Focusing on the gender identity of the shooter distracts from the real conversation. What we need to be talking about are the issues we have with guns. People will try to make it political but it’s about saving lives,” stated junior Leah Callison. 

Gun violence is the number one leading cause of death for children in the U.S. In an attempt to prevent any revisions from being made to the Second Amendment, those who enjoy their right to bear arms blame gun violence on anything but guns. 

In countries such as Japan, which enforces laws that require gun users to take rigorous training and tests before owning firearms, there are rarely more than ten shooting deaths per year. Though America has a unique political structure and history with firearms, stricter gun laws have proven to be successful in other countries and can aid in decreasing the number of deaths and mass shootings in the U.S. as well. 

Even within our own country we can see the positive effects of stricter gun laws. States such as Montana that do not require a carry permit, purchase permit or background checks, have a much higher rate of firearm homicides than states such as New York which do. 

Transgender or not, the perpetrator took the lives of six innocent victims, and such behavior can never be excused. In order to achieve change, we must make compromises and reach a middle ground, put aside our pride, and prioritize the lives of the future generation which are being taken every day.

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