Tips for Thought

Mass Shootings in the United States: Possible Causes and Solutions

Mass shootings are becoming a common occurrence in the country. As of 2022, there have been over 600 mass shootings, making it one of the highest numbers in recent history. In the first three months of 2023, there had been at least 131 shootings, where an elementary school in Nashville is the latest tragedy that made it on the news.

Reasons for Increasing Mass Shootings in the United States:

With the increasing number of gun violence growing by the day, it’s no secret that we need solutions and fast. However, before we can start with the answers, we need to at least look at the causes of why mass shootings are so common:

1. Increased gun ownership.

In 2020, U.S. gun sales soared and reached a record 23 million sales. This results in a 65% increase from 2019, which remains at its relatively high percentage in 2021.

Josh Horwitz, a co-director at the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Violence Solutions, said that this increasing number of sales is tied to the idea that owning a weapon ensures one’s safety. Considering that the decade started with a pandemic, it’s unsurprising that many people feel uncertain and afraid for the future.

2. Social issues in school.

An Alfred University survey asked respondents about sixteen possible reasons for school shootings. Among the reasons, the top five reasons that scored were:

#1 The desire to get back at those who hurt them;

#2 Being bullied or ostracized in school;

#3 Lack of valuing life as something precious;

#4 Victims of physical violence at home; and

#5 Mental health issues

Meanwhile, the following reasons scored the least out of sixteen. These are the following:

#12 Violence is the norm in their neighborhood;

#13 Other kids encouraged them to do it;

#14 The teachers don’t care about them;

#15 They fear for their safety; and

#16 They are bored.

Of all the reasons, boredom scored the least, with only 18% of the respondents agreeing with the statement. Video games, movies, and other media influences scored 11 out of 16. In contrast, mental illness scored 5 out of 16 in terms of the highest percentage in agreement.

It’s important to remember that these are percentages based on agreement, meaning it is only a survey. However, if we were to take these reasons as factors, it’s clear to see why a disenfranchised group would feel the need to seek revenge.

It’s no coincidence in 2023 when reported that at least 44% of all internet users in the U.S. said they had experienced online harassment, where 37% percent of these instances involved name-calling. This interconnected relationship with the internet and changing social influences may affect how people see themselves and the world.

It’s also important to note that the COVID-19 pandemic has urged people to go online more than ever, making this occurrence much more common in recent years.

3. Influence from other shooters.

While the survey at Alfred University states that media influence, like video games, movies, and shows, scored low, there is still some truth in the matter of influence.

A team of researchers worked on their findings and compiled them in a book titled “The Violence Project: How to Stop a Mass Shooting Epidemic.” In one interview, a researcher said that shooters who have gained wide attention in the media might influence others to follow, particularly those on edge. In a sense, “mass shooters study other mass shooters” by finding a way to relate to them and, thus, continuing this cycle.

What Are Some Possible Solutions to Mass Shootings?

There is no one-size-fits-all for “fixing” mass shooting incidents. However, there are possible ways to reduce the number, saving plenty of precious lives.

1. Establishing sensible gun laws.

Certain places can help reduce easy access to dangerous weapons by enacting universal background checks and standard waiting periods for ownership. There should also be a limit or strict regulation of assault weapons.

2. Create a culture of gun safety.

Enacting gun safety laws should not impede a person’s right to safety and ownership. However, it must become necessary to engage in responsibility, especially among gun dealers and owners. Mandatory training and licenses can also educate future gun owners without harming their rights. Certain states can also enact laws requiring safe and secure gun storage for possible owners and dealers.

3. Provide more accessible access to mental healthcare services.

The rising issues among the youth are startling. To address such problems, a nationwide initiative of providing mental healthcare services to people can help deal with a myriad of personal issues. Trauma victims should also have access to mental healthcare to prevent the continuation of this cycle while giving them hope for the future.

4. Invest in training quality officers and establish accountability among the police force.

Gun violence is not just among civilians. Corrupt officials have been known to be trigger-happy and use their power to their advantage with little repercussions. To prevent this cycle of injustice, we must create a better system of justice where irresponsible officers are in no position to harm others with their power. Authority is a privilege that should not be abused. When a nation prioritizes responsibility and accountability, it will eventually earn the trust of its constituents in time.

Takeaway: Gun violence is a public health issue that is preventable if a nation works together. Regardless of political affiliation, religious belief, or socioeconomic status, people should be free to protect themselves. However, they must also understand the consequences of said actions, especially when it involves gun ownership.