Mass Shootings in the United States
The United States, over the past five years, has dealt with a plethora of mass shootings at a number of places, ranging from concerts, grocery stores, churches, and, unfortunately, schools. For many Americans, this is nothing new to them, but the issue of mass shootings leaves many worried about leaving their houses and going anywhere with a large number of people. As a result, many people have taken to the social media platform TikTok to voice their concerns. One TikToker under the username of @mommacusses starts off her video holding up a bulletproof shield that someone can put in a backpack and explaining that she will give this to her daughter along with blood capsules in case there is a school shooting. She said, "That's the conversation I must have with my 15-year-old daughter. She goes to a US high school."
Just recently, another mass shooting occurred on May 6, 2023, just outside of Dallas, Texas. The gunman, this time, opened fire inside the Allen Premium Outlets, killing at least seven people, with others being rushed to the hospital not soon after. The gunman was shot dead at the crime scene but was found to be loaded with ample ammunition to continue with his shooting. On the same day, two more mass shootings were attempted across the US, occurring in California and Ohio. These shootings come just a month after the Nashville school shooting, which left six people dead, three of whom were young children. It seems as though almost every single day this year, there has been an attempted or completed mass shooting. The most recent shooting in Texas marks the United States 200 mass shooting this year.
Mental Health and Gun Violence
Recently the question of mental health and gun violence has been brought up. Does having poor mental health cause these mass shootings? Many people would like to argue mental health does hold up in this argument. For example, the two shooters of the Columbine Massacre were known to have anger management issues and even wrote a manifesto of what they would do to the students. The Nashville shooting that happened last month has a similar mental health argument in which the shooter was a trans person who was dealing with a personality disorder and also composted a manifesto before entering the elementary school.
Although there seem to be particular shooters who back up this argument, Jillian Peterson, one of the founders of The Violence Project, would argue that there is not enough evidence to back up the claim that mental health is the reason for a planned mass shooting. In an interview with the American Psychological Association, Jillian talked about how mental illness tends to be something that most shooters are dealing with at the time. Still, she said, "That being said, there was no one diagnosis that was consistent over time." and continued, "But when we tried to look at what role psychosis plays in leading to a mass shooting, it was about 10% of perpetrators, we could say psychosis was an active role here. Whereas the other 90%, it's much more complicated."
Where does that leave the argument now? Well, in simplest terms, it still leaves the question unanswered. Although studies are actively trying to understand how and why a person commits a mass shooting, there is still not enough evidence to completely back up the claim. We know this shooter may be in a crisis leading up to their planned shooting. A study completed by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) found that many "stressors" can lead to a person enacting violence, such as a mass shooting. They found financial strain, marital problems, abuse of drugs or alcohol, conflict with family, and job-related stressors, among many more, can lead a person in crisis to a mass shooting.
United States Government and Mass Shootings
Mass shootings and gun regulations have been on the table of the United States government for quite some time now, and the people have not been quiet about it. It comes as no surprise to most people that guns are deeply rooted in American culture, with most citing the second amendment in the US Constitution stating the right to bear arms to be able to rise against the government if the time came. People still feel quite the same, and many would argue they own guns for safety.
But when it comes to addressing all gun violence in the United States, it is harder for the government to do anything to stop this.
Furthermore, the United States does have many gun laws that can help with gun safety. One of the many is the Gun Control Act of 1968. This Act states, "This Legislation regulated interstate and foreign commerce in firearms, including importation "prohibited person," and licensing provisions." In simpler terms, there are stricter regulations on who can purchase and legally own a gun. For example, registered felons cannot buy a gun, and for various other reasons, there can be "prohibited people." This also made selling bombs, mines, and grenades illegal in this country.
Continuing, the government also signed the ATF Final Rule 41F into law. This made background checks required for purchasing a gun and amended the trading or selling of someone's rifle, meaning the person purchasing the gun must also have passed the background check and be able to own the firearm legally. Again, the government must tread lightly on this issue since it is such a divided debate in the United States. While they do not wish to ban guns altogether, people are speaking out to do just that, or at most, ban certain firearms that do most of the damage.
March For Our Lives is one of the more prominent gun reform groups in the United States. March For Our Lives was created in 2018 with the hope of getting the government to listen to their pleas for active gun reform and to stop gun violence in the United States. Their policy agenda is rooted in their need to feel safe in their communities, and this group has been able to pass various laws across the United States. But, overall, this group would like to see more accountability for gun violence across the states.
What Can Be Done?
Overall, this topic will not die in the United States anytime soon. Almost every day in the United States, there is an attempted mass shooting, and already this year alone, there have been over 200 attempts and quite a few successful ones. Mental health and stressors continue to be studied by many organizations in hopes of understanding why people commit these unfortunate acts. You can join many groups to lobby for more gun reform who will happily accept your aid. Also, at this time, if you live in the United States, if you are of age, you can still buy a gun, be responsible and take a class on how to use your gun, store it properly, and have that gun for your safety during these times. We will have to look to the United States Government and the President on what exactly will happen with gun violence.
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