Mass shooting refers to an incident which involves gun violence. According to the American Congressional Research Service, it is the indiscriminate shooting of more than three people excluding the perpetrator (Hargarten, 369-370). Mass shooting may either result in injury or murder. It is usually perpetrated by individuals or organizations aimed at killing family members, students, co-workers, or random strangers to achieve different motives. In the recent times, terrorists have used this tactic to achieve their political ambitions. For the last ten years, more than two-hundred incidents of mass shooting have occurred in the US. More than fifty percent of these have been in schools or places of work (Hoffner et al.). Other random shootings happen in restaurants, malls, and government and religious buildings. The government of the US has incurred huge costs in gun violence and is, therefore, trying to reduce it.
The people who shoot masses are mainly driven to do so by terrorism and mental illnesses. They are made to believe that they are working for a cause and would receive an accolade even if they die in the process. However, despite the access to mental health care and defence against terrorism by the government, many tragedies are still being experienced in the US. Orcutt et al. (249-256) indicate that about thirty percent of some two hundred incidents surveyed in the US were perpetrated by mentally ill patients. Most of the others were attributed to the huge number of young people who are angry and hopeless. Additionally, mass shooters such as Eric Harris and Christopher Dorner have been described as injustice collectors who experienced a prolonged time of failure and disappointment due to social isolation. According to Peter Squires, a criminologist and an advocate of gun-control, there is a greater risk for mass shootings in the United States than any other country due to the individualistic culture (Hargarten 369-370). Other motivations for mass shootings include the desire to be famous and gain attention.
The United States experience a greater number of mass shootings than any other country in the world. Given that it is a developed country; it shows that there is an underlying problem that needs to be addressed. According to Orcutt et al. (249-256), thirty-one percent of all mass shootings occur in America, yet its population is only five percent of the total world population. The most likely cause for the increased number of these incidents is due to the high rate of firearms ownership. A survey of 110 mass shootings in the US indicated that from 2009 to 2015, about fifty-seven percent were related to family and domestic violence (Bardeen, Kumpula and Orcutt 188-196). Information from several media outlets indicates that the number of mass shootings in the US could be higher. Research Studies have also tried to establish how coverage of these incidents shape the attitude towards mentally ill people and support of gun control policies (Hoffner et al.).
Notable mass shooters in the US include James Edward whose shooting incident in a General Motors Acceptance Corporation office in 1990 in Florida resulted in nine deaths and four casualties. Others include Carl Robert Brown, Charles Whitman, Edward Charles, Eliot Roger, and Robert Hawkins. Most of the perpetrators are males while the race is averagely proportionate to the population of America (Hargarten 369-370). Most of the perpetrators have no criminal record or a history of involuntary confinement in a mental health facility.
Victims and survivors of mass shooting are likely to suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder if they do not access adequate psychiatric support. Additionally, these people may contemplate suicide especially if they lost family members or friends in the same incident. Therefore, they are encouraged to come out and give accounts of the experiences as a psychological therapy (Bardeen, Kumpula and Orcutt 188-196). For instance, a victim who survived in the Knoxville Unitarian Universalist church shooting wrote a book that shared his reaction to other incidents of mass shooting. Also, the victims of the Norway attacks shared their experience in the GQ, an international mens magazine of New York. Information provided by these survivors has helped in research studies that aim to establish the psychological effects of such incidents.
There is no clear reason for mass shootings, but most of them are done randomly. People execute them for reasons ranging from despair or revenge to aggression. Usually, the person who shoots is not aware of the drive towards this violence act. A background check of the shooters may reveal an obsession with destruction devices such as guns, or role models who have previously executed mass murder (Hoffner et al.). These people feel superior to others and are not sensitive to loss of life tragedies.
Hundreds of US citizens die annually due to mass shootings while many others are left injured and unable to carry out their normal activities. These incidents have detrimental effects on the victims and their families. Additionally, the government incurs huge costs in health care for the survivors, criminal justice and in preventive campaigns. The advocates of gun rights have actually shut the Center for Disease Control and Prevention from funding research related to the effects of guns. Therefore, no relevant study regarding the same has been published since 2005 (Lindeque 835-836). In addition to the financial implications, mass shooting causes trauma to the victims, as well as the entire community in which the incidents occur. Survivors of these violent acts may be diagnosed with mental illnesses such as PTSD which reduces their productivity
The problem with mass shooting is that innocent citizens in the US are very vulnerable. While the required tools are available easily, the perpetrators are living among the people. The legal system in the country makes it too easy to acquire guns which may, later on, become tools for a mass shooting. There is a need to come up with an amicable solution for this menace in the US. Also, since it is not possible to control impulse violence among the people, there is a need to restrict the availability of guns and identification of individuals likely to cause violence. However, this kind of strategies would only succeed with the intervention of the government and other lobby groups. For instance, the government should enact laws that prohibit the acquisition of assault weapons such as guns, and high capacity magazines. Also, before one purchases a gun, there should be up to a month-long waiting time to do a background check on the individuals mental issues and history (Vernick and Stevenson 363-364. However, such interventions would deny some citizens the right to ownership of property that is guaranteed in the Second Amendment.
Since most of the mass shootings with fatal results occur in schools, there are concerns that it could be as a result of the failure of the school curriculum to incorporate self- defence, as well as inadequate security. This problem could be solved by posting more security guards to school to capture anyone with intentions of killing. However, in addition to being too expensive, the proposal would disrupt the learning environment, especially among younger children. According to Bardeen et al. (192), jurisdictions should be put in place to ensure adequate training on self-defense to the people allowed to hold guns. Encouraging some teachers to get armed so as to be in a solution to defend their students and themselves in instances of shooting is also a feasible solution. These proposals whose primary aim is to increase the number of armed people who can rescue innocent and helpless citizens in shooting incidents have a lot of loopholes. For instance, arming and training teachers on para-military techniques may cause their students to become fearful and hinder teaching efficiently (Orcutt et al.). Additionally, the solution is a problem in itself as increasing the number of gun holders in the country would likely result in shootings due to temperament.
The culture in the US appears to perpetuate violence and glorify criminality. The medias portrayal of mass murders and notoriety through music, video games and films encourage young people to engage in such activities. There is also concern that the attention of the media around the executors of mass shooting has sparked further incidents. Therefore, legislators have enacted laws against the media naming the suspects to avoid them gaining disrepute. However, various lobby groups have criticized the government on such measures citing curtailing of media freedom. Additionally, denying the citizens valuable information regarding shooting incidents may make them remain ignorant not recognize the weight of this public health concern. Also, according to Lindeque (835-836), no conclusive research study has established the relationship between the violent acts of the media and the actual violence. Therefore, it would be unfair to restrict the masses from getting full information on such incidents based on unestablished claims.
Some media publications such as the New York Daily News have supported the debate through its articles and opinion pieces. There are calls from various quarters to tighten the policies that control acquisition of guns. In Australia, the government changed the law regulating guns in 1996 after experiencing the Port Arthur Massacre. Between 1981 and 1996, when the law was enacted, the country experienced thirteen mass shootings with more than four victims excluding the perpetrators (Vernick and Stevenson 363-364). After the enactment of the law, no other mass shooting of that magnitude has occurred. However, four significant incidents of shootings have occurred but do not meet the definition of a mass shooting. They include the 2002 Monash University shooting, 2011 Hector Ville Siege, 2014 Logan family shooting, and the Hunt family murder. Also in the United Kingdom, the government enacted stringent laws on guns after the Hungerford massacre of 1987 and Dun Blane School massacre in 1996. The government also implemented a buyback program in the country to reduce the number of private citizens owning guns.
In the United States, there has been no agreement on gun law reforms between the Republicans and the Democrats. The Republicans are not in support of the reforms in contrast with the Democrats. A huge number of people in America, however, believe that tighter laws on gun ownership would prevent the execution of mass shootings in future. According to a survey, ninety-three percent of participants who are voters in the US support a system to check thoroughly the background of those who wish to acquire guns (Lindeque 835-836). Those opposed to the reforms argue that the advocates of these laws should not do so due to mass shooting as they are hard to stop. Also, they believe that civilians who own guns would help in the rescue operations and may prevent the shootings. By 2016, President Barrack Obama had talked on fourteen different incidents of shooting in which he emphasized the need for enactment of gun safety laws in the US. At Charleston church shooting, he acknowledged that the frequency of these incidents was too high in the United States in comparison to other developed nations.
The best way to address this issue in the US is to make policies that tighten the requirements for gun holders. The passing of such acts in countries like Australia has worked to reduce the number of shooting incidents in the country. Another major factor implicated in shooting incidents is mental health. When a mentally ill perpetrator of mass shooting gets the idea in mind, it becomes very easy to acquire a gun, given the lack of policies to control the market (Vern...
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