Six people were killed in a shooting at a Nashville Christian school on Monday, with the suspect later shot dead by police. Among the dead were three nine-year-old students, a substitute teacher, the head of the school, and a custodian. The attacker, 28-year-old Audrey Hale, had legally bought seven firearms, which were hidden at home, despite being under care for an emotional disorder. Hale had attended the school as a student and had also considered attacking a nearby mall. Police have not yet determined a motive.
Bodycam footage of officers responding to the shooting was released on Tuesday, showing the police shooting the attacker. The video also shows that Hale had planned the attack carefully and had scouted out a second location, but had decided against it due to heavy security. A search of Hale’s home uncovered further evidence of planning. The attack was the 19th school or university shooting in the US this year, in which at least one person was injured, and the deadliest since May 2023, which left 21 people dead.
Commentators note that while mass shootings in the US are now becoming depressingly familiar, there is little sign of changes being made to address the underlying issues. Some blame the ease of access to firearms; others cite the lack of access to mental health services; still, others point to the rise of digital communities that provide vulnerable, isolated individuals with easy access to extremist ideologies. Observers note that after each mass shooting, there is an inevitable call for a renewed effort to address the issue, but little seems to change year on year.
However, the issue of access to guns in the US is not expected to go away. Conservative politicians and lobbying groups argue that the US’ Second Amendment right to bear arms is fundamental, and that defensive gun use saves lives. The challenge of reducing gun violence at the same time as preserving the Bill of Rights is unlikely to be trivial, particularly given the deep political polarisation in the country.