Want less gun violence? Focus on the underlying problems.

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By: Nick Josselyn

NIAGARA UNIVERSITY, N.Y.- In the summer of 2019, the New York Times reported 26 mass shootings in the United States, which led to a total of 126 unnecessary deaths. Politicians always jump to debate gun control every time these tragedies happen in our news cycle. While the implication of some gun control legislation, like mental health screenings and background checks, can help in prevention of these horrendous events, the discussion of banning certain firearms in their entirety ignores the underlying causes of gun violence and may cause more harm than good. 

One of the most infamous mass shooting events happened in 2014 when 22-year-old Elliot Rodger killed six victims in a shooting spree around Isla Vista, CA. His motivation behind the murder was due to his involuntary celibacy and frustration against women. His manifesto, known as “My Twisted World,” became revered in the involuntarily celibate community who blame women for their sexual frustration. The praise Rodger received after the tragedy shows a community whose mental health is being pushed to the side. This then displays a mental health epidemic that has violent side effects. 

In August of this year, a gunman walked into a Walmart in El Paso, Texas, leading to 22 murders and 24 injuries. This mass murderer also had a manifesto posted on the forum 8chan (now defunct), where he described his concerns of the so-called “Hispanic invasion of the United States.” 

“My whole life I have been preparing for a future that currently doesn’t exist,” The shooter posted on 8chan. “The job of my dreams will likely be automated. Hispanics will take control of the local and state government of my beloved Texas, changing policies to better suit their needs.”

The gunmen mentioned as well as their rhetoric and motivations seen in their manifestos should disgust the majority, if not all of those who read them. Their motivations should also be discussed in order to come up with solutions that prevent the idea of carrying out a mass shooting, rather than making it slightly harder for violent minds as the priority. 

Phoebe Malts Bovy, a writer for the New Republic, wrote “It’s Time to Ban Guns. Yes, All of Them” in 2015. Bovy mentions that banning all firearms would be a better solution due to its lack of discrimination against gun owners, also taking away firearms from police officers. This stance is an idealist one that fails to acknowledge the acquiring of firearms through the black market, and how banning anything in America has never stopped those who seek those products to get them by any means.

In a Gallup poll on Marijuana usage since 1969, there has been a steady increase in the population of Americans who used Marijuana, even after being labeled a Schedule One drug under the Nixon Administration. The heavy increase of the War on Drugs during the Reagan Administration and a similar trend is seen through the topic of firearms. 

According to the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC) two out of every three weapon prosecutions in the United States surround a firearm purchased in the Black Market. These firearms are typically used for other offenses. A ban on firearms will not stop those who feel like they need a firearm to acquire one.

Although it would be nice to live in a world where firearms are no longer on the streets, it is impossible to stop those who feel a sense of fear from acting on it. The topics America needs to discuss should be found in the manifestos of mass shooters who felt like violence was the last resort due to America’s failure to appropriately address the nation’s problems with mental health, racism and economic insecurities. 

Image by Al_HikesAZ licensed under Attribution-NonCommercial 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC 2.0)



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