TW: Gun Violence, Death
The many mass shootings that have occurred within the last few weeks have created a public outcry for gun control measures. In this article, we'll delve into how no changes are being made in legislation, the mental health of America, and other details that lead to many school shootings.
A Brief History of Gun Control Legislation:
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If we went all the way back in time to Colonial America, guns were commonplace within households. Part of America's constitution included the 2nd amendment: The right to an "A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed"
1871: The National Rifle Association(NRA) is created to improve marksmanship among US citizens by army veterans. They accumulated a large membership, and continued to advocate against gun control and increased gun ownership, while also targeting safety.
1934: The National Firearms Act is passed. The Act was created directly after vicious acts during the Prohibition era from Gang activity. Government officials felt the need to act regarding the public outrage regarding the large amounts of death. The Act required the registration of any and all automated firearms with the government, to keep track of ownership.
1968: The Gun Control Act of 1968 is passed. This act placed great restrictions on who could possess or have access to a gun. There were more requirements for those getting a gun license. In addition, felons, users of drugs, or otherwise mentally incapacitated people weren't allowed to purchase guns.
1994: The Brady Bill, in honor of Presidential aide James Brady. President Clinton signed the bill into effect, an important decision in the gun control movement. The bill created a national background check system that automatically cross-checked a customer's criminal past.
Now, you may be wondering: How is there still so much gun violence if there is already a lot of legislation in place?
Many acts that have been passed have expiration dates, such as Federal Assault Weapons Ban from 1994. This act eventually expired, so the protections offered by the ban are no longer present. In addition, there are many loopholes within current legislation.
Criminals and people with ill-intent would lie regarding their intentions. In addition, people with untreated mental health issues wouldn't be registered in the system.
Mental health is another issue that many officials blame for the increase in mass shootings. However, many of these claims prove to be untrue and reflect poorly on mental health.
Source: Pexels.org (From Daniel Reche)
With mental health already being stigmatized, connecting it to potentially violent behavior creates unfair assumptions for those with mental illnesses. These accusations can also prevent people from getting the help they need due to the fear of being marginalized.
It's very easy to blame mass shootings on mental health, but the reality is that many shooters come from unhealthy homes and live in environments where violence is commonplace.
Trends in Shootings:
It's no secret that mass shootings in the US have increased drastically since the early 2000s.
Some of that can be attributed to past shootings being highly televised and covered. For example, Columbine Shooting in 1999 was an attack on Columbine High School by two students which left 12 students and a teacher dead. This tragedy was covered by news outlets, and the exact methods that the shooters used were also made available to the public.
This is inherently not ideal because potential shooters now have the exact same information as the police and were able to idolize the Columbine shooters and tried to emulate their tactics. The shooting even has its own fans, known as "Columbiners" who fantasize about the event.
What can be Done?
While this article has overall had a pessimistic view on this sensitive topic, it's important that we end with what can be done moving forward. First off, an obvious solution would be reducing easy access to guns for youth and young adults. A majority of school shooters are young and should have been prevented from getting their hands on guns.
Another solution is improving access to grief, trauma, and mental health services. Many shooters are exposed to traumatic events, so destigmatizing counseling would be greatly needed so that people can access the help they need.
Another important aspect to this issue is becoming educated. As a citizen, it is our civic responsibility to understand legislation and laws that affect our communities and ourselves. Take time to read up on past court cases, convictions, and other credible news sources so that you can create your own opinion on this, and other political issues.