Approved by a 4-1 vote of the Scroll Editorial Board. 7 abstained.
After every mass shooting there is a national conversation on whether guns are the issue. Many offer thoughts and prayers and say it’s not the time to talk about guns, but others say we should talk about it now before another mass shooting happens again.
However, since the beginning of 2018, the Gun Violence Archive, a nonprofit that tracks shootings in the US, reported there have been 308 mass shootings. The Gun Violence Archive considers four or more people shot in a single incident a mass shooting.
From schools, to news organizations, to malls, to bars, to various religion’s houses of worship, to other private and public locations, it seems like a mass shooting can take place anywhere.
As mentioned before, events like these bring about a conversation about gun control, no matter how hard some people try to avoid them. The National Rifle Association told doctors to “stay in their lane” when some doctors started speaking out against gun violence. Doctors responded with #ThisIsMyLane and #ThisIsOurLane sharing stories of them trying to save victims of gun violence.
In order to avoid talking about gun control, people bring up mental health as an issue. A lot of US citizens believe there is a strong correlation between mass shooters and mental illness. However, it’s more complicated than that.
The New York Times reported that out of 235 mass killings, only 22 percent of the perpetrators could be considered mentally ill.
According to an academic study published by the National Center for Biotechnology Information in 2015, “Evidence is clear that the large majority of people with mental disorders do not engage in violence against others, and that most violent behavior is due to factors other than mental illness.” The same study states that the risk of violence from an individual with a serious mental illness is just 4 percent.
According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, over 43 million people in the US deal with mental illness in any given year. This is on par with other developed countries in the world when adjusted for size and yet the US is the only country that suffers from mass shootings on this scale.
Preventing people deemed too dangerous by medical professionals from buying firearms could help prevent more mass shootings, but experts say it would not be as effective as other measures in preventing mass shootings. Also generalizing everyone with mental health issues as potential mass shooters is terrible and will only make innocent people’s lives worse.
Yes, guns are dangerous and are used to harm people. They also can be used to protect and sometimes save people. However, the “good guy with a gun” talking point has no merit to stand on. An 2014 FBI report found that out of 160 active shooter incidents between 200-2013, five of those incidents were stopped by an armed individual who was not a member of law enforcement. Just 3.1 percent of active shootings were stopped by an armed civilian. 56.3 percent (90 of the 160 incidents) ended by the shooter’s choice.
So, how do we prevent mass shootings? Sadly there is no clear cut answer. Some people advocate for banning all guns. We don’t want to ban guns; however, we know that something needs to be done.
Gun control will always be a divisive subject. However, there was one time when Democrats, Republicans and the NRA agreed on gun control legislation. In 1967 an armed group of Black Panthers marched on the California State Capital and a few weeks later then Governor Ronald Reagan signed a gun control bill called the Mulford Act. According to history.com, this bill led California to having some of the strictest gun laws in the US and brought about a rise in national gun control restrictions. So if minorities start arming themselves, we may see the GOP agreeing to some gun control legislation.
All joking aside, we believe in some gun control legislation. We believe that it should be harder to obtain guns for people in general. We believe in universal background checks, for both private and public sales. We believe that we should help people with mental illness and not cut mental health care funding. We believe that solely focusing on mental illness is not enough because most shooters will slip away until it’s too late.
We believe in doing something. The ever so common “thoughts and prayers” that come after every mass shooting are worthless in preventing the next mass shooting if there are no actions accompanying them. We will never be able to completely eradicate gun violence from the US, but that shouldn’t stop us from trying.
We should do everything in our power to lessen the number of mass shootings. Mass shootings are close to becoming the norm in the country and no decent person, no matter what their political stance, should ever become complacent and accept that.