I hate writing these articles, because whenever I have to write this it means a tragedy has happened.
Although this specific article is in response to the Parkland School Shooting on Valentine’s Day, it could easily be a response to any of the 32 mass shootings America has endured since 2000. It could also easily be a response to the tens of thousands of homicides by guns we see every year.
When we batch the U.S. with 22 other high-income countries, the U.S. accounts for 82 percent of all gun-related deaths, a staggering number you should really consider for a moment.
So, America, I think it’s safe to say we have a problem.
But how do we fix it?
The first point I feel I need to make here is that I don’t own a gun. I’ve never fired one, in fact, and I am uncomfortable being around them. So this isn’t a “cold dead hands” personal argument – this is an honest attempt to look into the root cause of these shootings.
Since the Supreme Court isn’t going to abolish the Second Amendment anytime soon, banning all the guns isn’t a realistic option. Fully-automatic rifles may as well be banned, since the only ones available were made before 1986 and cost tens of thousands of dollars to purchase. There are more guns than people in the U.S., so a buyback program would most likely be extremely expensive and ineffective.
So, banning guns isn’t realistic. How about banning only semi-automatic rifles?
Sure, we could do that. According to a 2012 Slate article, there are nearly four million assault-style rifles in the U.S. These guns make up only one percent of the total guns in the U.S., so they are certainly far less common than common perception might lend. And actually, rifles of all types accounted for only three percent of gun-related homicides in 2016. Handguns accounted for 65%. Knives caused nearly four times as many homicides as rifles. Do we #banknives?
So, statistically speaking, semi and fully-automatic weapons aren’t the real issue. We would have to ban handguns to make the main cause of gun-related deaths illegal.
According to a study done at Valparaiso University, “Preventing law-abiding citizens from carrying handguns does not end violence, but merely makes them more vulnerable to being attacked. The very large size and strength of our results should at least give pause to those who oppose concealed handguns. Chances to relax regulations that potentially offer at least 8% drops in murder rates are difficult to ignore.”
What about U.S. mass murders not caused by guns?
9/11 used planes. Boston marathon was a bomb. Oklahoma City bombing. Michigan school bomb. Oregon train attack. California machete attack. Happy land fire.
The U.S. doesn’t have a gun problem. The U.S. has a violence problem.
So how do we fix it?
Let’s analyze U.S. mass shooters for a second.
Before anyone gets any ideas, mental illness isn’t a good scapegoat for mass murders.
Let’s start with the childhood. Seven of the deadliest shootings in U.S. history have been carried out by males under 30. Of those seven, only one – Virginia Tech shooter Seung-Hui Cho – grew up with his biological father around through childhood. Hui Cho was troubled, nonetheless.
The Parkland shooter had his father pass away. He had no way to cope with the loss, and began noticeably acting out. It’s an often underlooked factor, but growing up in a single-parent or troubled home certainly has a correlation to these killings.
The FBI was also warned about the Parkland shooter before the killing, a common issue we’ve seen with many of these murders. So if reporting potentially dangerous behavior to the authorities doesn’t get you anywhere, what course of action can you take?
I think it’s fair to say that the majority of these mass killings are done by socially inept males. School culture further isolates these teens, and most of them crave human and romantic interaction. Revenge on the community they feel rejected them is the only solution in their minds. And then most of them take their own life.
Loneliness mixed with an unstable home is a visibly noticeable trait among these killers.
So, how do we stop these terrible tragedies?
As Rob Myers wrote, the way we stop mass shootings is to “Notice those around you who seem isolated, and engage them.”
So, pull up a chair and befriend the kid sitting alone at the lunch table. Ask the guy at work who just got divorced if he wants to go out for a beer. Give someone a hug when you find out their parents got divorced.
Over time, our culture has gotten more and more clique-y, and it’s leaving people alone and isolated. The black market will always exist, and taking away the best defense people have from attacks will only perpetuate more attacks. Mass shootings make for an emotional case against guns, but they are a terrible way to understand gun violence.
America, banning guns won’t help us out on this one. This is a community issue, and rather than further dividing ourselves over the legalization of guns, let’s come together and make our communities stronger.
We’re all humans. Let’s start acting like it.