The subject came up during a break in a much unneeded meeting: what’s causing this rash of school shootings? “Social media,” said one teacher. “Video games,” said another. “No, no, it’s the easy access to guns,” said one more. “It’s complicated,” I added, but no one listened.
Didn’t I just say that? After yet another wasted session of thoughts and prayers and moments of silence? It’s complicated! It’s all of the above! Instead of rewriting, I’ll say it again.
Who are the next school shooters or mass shooters? How can we recognize them, and how do we stop them?
It’s a complex problem, and stopping the mass shootings that are becoming all too common will require a complex solution.
Activists work to tighten gun laws. They want to outlaw guns like the AR-15, guns with only one purpose: killing. They want to require background checks, thorough background checks, any time a person buys a gun.
Mental health advocates work to help people who might consider carrying out such a shooting. Depression, anxiety, and more can be factors in producing a killer of many.
Not to be forgotten are the National Rifle Association (NRA), those who work to keep gun laws weak and widespread access to weapons strong.
It’s a complex problem. After Sandy Hook, after Columbine, after Parkland, expert and not-so-expert analysts look for red flags, events or ongoing stresses that might have built up the pressure on this individual. After the fact, folks in the know pick through a shooters’ profiles and backgrounds, identifying possible triggers, the proverbial straws that broke the camels’ backs.
It’s a social problem. Was the shooter harassed? Bullied? Excluded and isolated? Did anyone reach out to this person? Did anyone recognize the risk, help this person before the potential for disaster became real?
It’s a medical problem. Mental illness, diagnosed or not, can be a major factor in someone deciding to carry out such a horrific event, taking lives of so many others. Mental health care must be available to all who need it – and mental health coverage must be part of any health plan.
It’s a legal problem, a gun problem. That’s hard for me to say because I know so many responsible gun owners. Hunters, mainly, these friends would never dream of leaving their firearms loaded and accessible to someone – anyone – who might misuse them. That said, no one needs a semi-automatic for hunting game. The AR-15 that’s been in the hands of so many mass shooters doesn’t need to be legal.
It’s an accessibility problem. Felons, domestic abusers, people who have been identified as a danger to others must be prevented from owning guns. License to kill only exists in fiction. In reality, life is precious.
It’s a complex problem, and the solution will not be simple. I wish I had an answer.