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“This would never happen at my school or in my town”. This is the thought of the average American after hearing about a mass shooting. The harsh, sad reality is that it can happen at anywhere, at any time. Only in the United States do we have mass shooting so often; only in the United States do we lose one person every 15 minutes to gun violence (How to Reduce Shootings). Mass shootings in the United States have sadly become a twisted trend that is only growing. One can even go as far as to say that they are “the new normal”. Schools, malls, theaters and concerts are just a few of the places that have been touched by a mass shooting. Mass shooting are nothing new, however they just seem to happen a lot more often in today’s society. One of the first known mass shootings dates back to 1966 at the University of Texas (Associated Press 2007). Lone gunman Charles Whitman shot and killed 16 people as well as injuring 31 others. According the Washington Post, since that day in August of 1966, 1102 people have been killed in mass shootings (Washington Post). The most coveted shooting in the 90’s was Columbine. On April 20, 1999 Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold killed 32 students and staff before turning their weapons on themselves. The horrific occurrences of that day will live on in the minds of many forever. Since that day, there have been many more horrific events and many more lives lost. The time to talk about mass shooting prevention is long overdue. There is a multiplicity of questions that need to be asked to determine where to start, but the violence must cease. There are laws and regulations passed to protect the public, but most are broken and often times so vague that things slip through the cracks. It is time to take a national stand against gun violence.
Mass murder is a catastrophe but also a rare phenomenon. This rarity makes it hard for mental health professions and law enforcement to directly say what problems lead to mass murders. Also massing shootings seem to have such different views that it is sometimes hard to create a meaning solution. Individuals of the younger generation somehow seemed to be motivated to copycat another mass shooter. Some think that the solution to their problems is to have a gun and innocent people get caught in the crossfire. Some places have minimum security making it easy for a mass shooter to gain access. On top of all of this, lenient gun laws beg the question: is it too easy for one to gain access to a gun?
Guns have been a part of American culture since the beginning of its time. Throughout history they have been used for hunting, war and sometimes protection. Since the first guns were created, the speed and power of guns have greatly increased. This increase has sparked the need for more control on guns, or maybe perhaps a total ban on guns. After Columbine the need for more gun control was pertinent. However, most of the gun control policy introduced in the aftermath was extraneous and would not have led to effective prevention. Some of this policy included, preventing access to children by locking away guns and a ban on assault weapons.
The more often these shooting occur, the more government will feel that enacting more laws and policies will be the solution. A single mass shooting leads to a 15% increase in the number of firearm bills introduced within a state in the year after a mass shooting (The Impact of Mass Shootings on Gun Policy). In reality, that is not the answer. Most people, as human nature would imply, love to break the rule, simply because the rules are there to break. In this case, the government should not necessarily create more gun control laws, and if they do, they should expect more crime without guns. This poses the question; does taking away firearms solve the problem? And the answer is not quite defined. Revoking the 2nd amendment right to bear arms had good intentions, however it infringes upon the rights of those who follow the law. Those who use firearms for protection do not deserve to have their rights and guns stripped away from them because of other failure to follow the law. There is no such thing as the utopian society, meaning violence will always be prevalent. Knowing this, many factors account for how those who commit mass shootings even get to that point.
Paying attention to the early signs and taking action on them as soon as possible can save countless lives. This prevention starts at home, with the loving embrace of the parents. Seeing that a child mostly learns from what they see and hear, or lack thereof, having parents in a child’s life that know his or her environment at all times can be the key for prevention. A child brought up in a well-constructed lifestyle is, most of the time, not the ones who grow up to be mass murders. That being said, one must show their child affection and love, and give them attention. This will make them less likely to want to do harm to others or themselves. Also early communication is key. Many conflicts could be prevented simply by talking about things. Not being there for you kid could make them feel lost and alone. Those who do not have the right upbringing or lead the wrong lifestyle can be unstable mentally. This leads to more erratic thoughts and actions. On the other hand, others are born with the inability to control the thoughts or actions. This is known as mental illness. Though these types of people are reckless and dangerous, we cannot hold them completely at fault. We must have the conversation about mental health and gun policy.
It is a common misconception that mass shootings by people with serious mental illness represent the most significant relationship between gun violence and mental illness (Mass Shootings and Mental Illness). Actually, mass shootings by people with mental illness account for less than 1% of all yearly gun-related homicides (Mass Shootings and Mental Illness). Yet research suggests that mass shootings can increase mental health stigma, reinforce stereotypes that people with mental illness are violent, and influence public policy (Mass Shootings and Mental Health Policy). So that further beg the question, how do the facts say one thing, yet society says another?
After hearing many horrific stories in the media about mass shooting, the public, and even the government is scrambling to find a solution. There are many theories as to why people turn into mass shooters. Some argue that the home life is not adequate, some will argue that the social life is not their. Others will even argue that the intense violence in movies and video games could be to blame. Also, almost always, the mass shooter suffers from some sort of mental illness. All of these theories and motives make it hard to determine exactly what causes these people to become how they are, making it even more difficult to find a solution. The solution is not simple or clear cut. It starts at home, with love and affection. Then it makes it way to more stringent government policies and laws. But not so stringent that they infringe on the rights of the law abiding. Whatever the solution maybe, we must work fast. The fate of our America is at stake.
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