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Mass shootings have become an alarming trend in the United States. Mass shootings have been reported in schools, movie theatres, shopping centers, and public places leading to several deaths and injuries. Today, mass shootings have been on the rise making it a challenge to find a workable solution to the problem. The laws have been put in place to protect the citizens but unfortunately, the shooters break them so easily. People are shot at indiscriminately and this has brought up the question, why is there an increase in mass shooting incidences and can future mass shootings be prevented? While mass shootings are terrifying and the ban of guns is not happening soon, there are steps that can be taken to prevent future mass shooting incidences. Mass shooting can be prevented through a thorough background check on individual before they are issued with a gun, an increase in the age of buying and owning a gun, and it can be prevented by issuing harsher punishments to individuals who commit this heinous crime. In addition, mass shooting can be prevented by arming teachers so that they can be prepared when this happens, and by eliminating, the possibility of an easy and legal access to guns and ammunition, which can facilitates high-fatality mass shootings.
Today, many young people for some reason are motivated to copy off from mass shooters and have decided to solve their differences by shooting their peers in schools. Such incidences include the Sandy Hook Elementary school and the deadliest Florida mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland. Young people have gotten access to weapons and undertaken massacre against innocent people with no remorse (Kupchik, Brent, and Mowen 1018). Most of them think that taking a gun and shooting at everyone when they are caught in crossfire or when hurt by their peers is the solution to their problems. However, with proper laws and regulations in schools and proper training and education for both students and staff, future mass shootings can be prevented in our schools.
Training and arming teachers would help stop school future mass shootings in schools. More effort should be put in training teachers on gun use when a disaster like a school mass shooting occurs because not only the students are hurt during the shooting, the teachers and other school staffs end up injured and even others dead. In addition, apart from training on gun use, these teachers can be trained on early recognition on mental illnesses, stress, and anxiety in students because students who perpetrate these crimes are always under stress from home of bullying from their fellow students' actions (Metzl and MacLeish 245). However, if teachers are trained on how to recognize such students, they will be rescued and given the help they need meaning they will not have to hurt others just to get relieved from their depression or any other mental illness.
Opponents argue future mass shootings cannot be prevented by arming teachers because guns might end up being stored on school compounds and this means that they might get in the wrong hands and increase the mass shooting incidents. In addition, they argue that the trained teacher can in a moment abuse his/her rights and use the gun inappropriately. However, with proper training, and tight security where the guns will be stored, such cases will not be reported and this will help stop the increasing school mass shootings actions (Metzl and MacLeish 244). Moreover, when students know that their teachers are trained to use guns and to properly handle mass shooting incidences, they might stop their plans of revenge or hurting others with the use of guns and firearms because they know this will be prevented from happening as they might end up hurt or dead themselves. Typically, schools will always benefit from well-trained teachers and staff when a mass shooter attacks and this can prevent deaths and injuries.
On the same point of training and arming teachers, to prevent future mass shootings, schools should invest in early mental health assessment programs/service for students. Many children who tend to hurt others have troubled childhood are suffering from domestic violence, and others are suffering from a type of mental illness (Fox and DeLateur 143). As a result, they end up being aggressive towards their peers and even bullying them and if such a child gets an access to a gun, it is very possible that he/she will end up shooting them without any remorse. Therefore, if schools invest in early mental health assessment services, they will be able to identify children who have trouble and offer a solution before they turn into psychopaths and hurt others. If an early intervention is provided to the tons of troubled youth in schools, we can prevent future mass shootings. Let us note that, the intervention should not focus on only punishment, but on how to help the troubled youth by counseling them, and offering help and rescue where it is needed.
To prevent future mass shootings, more control should be done in the video game industry. Today, many young people enjoy violent video games and they have no idea the negative effects this can have on their brains and their behavior. Violent video games can have detrimental behavioral effects on the lives of the young generation (Fox and DeLateur 144). According to Pujol et al., video games are powerful tools that have helped young people learn how to use guns and this poses severe emotional and mental harm on the child (424). Children who love video games can end up accessing a gun and hurting others in the name of playing or practicing how to use a real gun. The current video games are aggressive, violent, and in fact vengeful because one plays to kill his opponent or revenge if the opponent had defeated him/her during the first play. Pujol et al. further note that when children play these games, their sense of reality is altered because all they think of is to kill an opponent, and a majority of them tend to bring the same in real life and think of killing their opponents or people who hurt them in one way or the other (426). However, if there is tight control in the video game industry, it will to some extent help prevent future mass shootings. These billion-dollar companies should slow down on making violent video games that alter the minds of young people causing them to act violently with each other in real life in the name of settling scores or revenge.
Apart from young people perpetrating mass shootings in schools, there have been incidences of mass shootings in public spaces and shopping centers that have left several injured and many dead and this too can be prevented. An example is the October 2017 deadly mass shooting that happened while innocent people were enjoying a country music concert and a shooter killed 58 and injured over 500 other people (Campion et al.1679). According to Campion et al., the 64 year old shooter was untrained, purchased the gun and the ammunition legally, and had no criminal history at all (1680). Nonetheless, he was able to use deadly weapons to kill and injure several innocent people without any remorse. Even though it might seem hopeless to prevent such catastrophes, mass shootings in public spaces can be prevented.
The legal and availability of guns and ammunition is the main cause of mass shooting incidences. Therefore, the frequency and severity of mass shooting in public spaces can be prevented by eliminating the easy and legal access of guns and ammunition that can facilitate high-fatality mass shootings (Campion et al.1679). Most weapons used in mass shootings are semi-automatic rifles, which can shoot several bullets at a time and faster as long as the trigger has been pulled. According to Schamess, “Semiautomatic weapons have been used in 14 mass shootings in the past 10 years, including Columbine, Sandy Hook, Aurora, San Bernardino, and Orlando, and their use has increased over the past two years” (Physiciansactionnetwork.com). These weapons have raised the deaths and injury rates of mass shootings by “157% and the fatality rate by 47%” and if their legal access is restricted, then we can prevent future mass shootings and their severity (Physiciansactionnetwork.com). Abolishing the legal sale (both private and public) of semiautomatic weapons in addition to eliminating the illegal sale of the same weapons will help prevent future mass shootings.
In addition, rising the age of purchasing and owning a gun is also a better solution to future mass shootings. Metzl and MacLeish suggest that most of the mass shooting incidences are perpetrated by immature, impulsive, and reckless youth who have no regard to the risk of their actions (243). In fact, they injure and murder their fellow students with no remorse as a form of revenge or punishment. However, if the age of purchasing and owning a gun is raised, then such cases will be a thing of the past. In addition, to increasing the age of gun owns, the state should reduce the access to firearms because it seems firearms are easily accessible in the United States.
Having stricter background checks including mental health stability checkup before issuing guns to individuals will help prevent future mass shootings. The PAN position paper by Schamess reveal that most surviving victims of mass shootings have always demanded this from the government because of the horror they go through with a shooter with an unstable mind killing people with no remorse (Physiciansactionnetwork). The government should ensure that it prohibits the sale of weapons to persons at risk of using them wrongly/harmfully, for instance, people with a history of violence, mental problems, drug abuse, and those convicted of juvenile violence offenses and violent misdemeanor (Physiciansactionnetwork). In addition, private gun dealers should be required to run background checks on potential buyers before issuing them with guns (Metzl and MacLeish 245).. If mandatory background checks are done before a gun purchase, people who are at risk of using these weapons harmfully will not access them, thus preventing mass shootings. More so, this will be made possible if all unlicensed dealers should be dealt with to ensure that it is hard for someone planning to use it harmfully for instance for a mass shooting to acquire a gun. With a thorough mental checkup, people with unstable minds will not be allowed to acquire weapons as they might use them to harm others.
Opponents argue that if people continue relating mental illnesses to crimes like mass shooting is like solidifying the stigma about mental illnesses. They argue that it is like telling the society that as long as someone is mentally unstable, he/she is capable of committing evil actions and other horrible crimes like mass murder (McGinty, Webster, and Barry 498). However, this is not the case because this will be a procedural check to ensure that a person is in a stable mind before he/she has an access to a gun. According to Metzl and MacLeish, several people suffer from various mental disorders and at times, they do not act right since some of them end up hurting others not because they want to, but because of their mental status (247). Therefore, if such background checks are done, we can avoid future mass shooting cases perpetrated by those people with mental problems.
Harsh punishments should be meted to individuals who are found guilty of committing mass shootings and this will help prevent future mass shootings. Most of these mass shooters enjoy killing and hurting other people and this is evident with the Florida shooter who after hurting several people, he went straight to eat like nothing had happened. Fox and DeLateur note that for him, life was normal and he did not even care how many people he had killed and the effects of his actions (132). However, with harsh laws and punishments, before an individual thinks of waking up, taking a gun/firearm and shooting at everyone, he/she will think twice of what will happen to him afterward.
According to McGinty, Webster, and Barry, future mass shootings can be prevented if the media stops making these shooters heroes/stars (494). After an incident of mass shooting, the media is always available to cover the entire process thus popularizing these shooters and this can have a negative effect on the young people and other possible mass shooters. As much as people would want to know what really happened and send their condolences and quick recovery wishes, the media has been exaggerating the whole thing because they talk about it so much (McGinty, Webster, and Barry 495). As a result, it makes other young people, people with mental disabilities, and those suffering from depression and other psychological problems see the shooter as a hero and are also inspired to do the same and become starts on the media. Let the media learn to talk less about mass shooting incidences and this will help prevent future mass shootings.
Mass shootings have become so common across the globe and its fallout is profound, devastating, and long lasting. There has been a serious problem with security in schools and public spaces making it easier for any person with a concealed weapon to gain access and commit mass murder. Heilbrun, Dvoskin, and Heilbrun note that it is vital for the government to ensure that schools and public areas are safe from mass shootings but this is far from cry because the incidences of mass shootings are on the rise (99). Schools should increase security measures and this should be applied to public places to help prevent future mass shootings. Schools should work together with the society and law enforcement agencies to ensure that this vice is completely eliminated from our societies. Many lives have been lost, a lot of people have been injured because of this heinous crime, and this problem deserved a vigorous response. While people are fighting for their rights to own firearms, they should also think about the many lives that have been lost due to the many guns in the public domain. Mass shootings are unruly actions that if not prevented, the future generations are going to suffer more from it. With national commitment, the mass shooting menace in both schools and public spaces can be successfully prevented (Heilbrun, Dvoskin, and Heilbrun 96). The truth is, there will always be an angry, resentful, mentally unstable, depressed, and revengeful man or an angry woman out there who would snap and end up shooting and killing people in public. People should raise their voices on the issue and the public to act by finding the best and workable solution to mass shootings because it is preventable in the future.
In conclusion, mass shooting is a chaotic incident that has led to the death and injury of many innocent people. The increase is mass shooting incidents has led to the question as to whether there is a possibility of preventing future mass shootings in schools to public spaces. It is true that mass shooting incidences have been on the rise, but the argument that they cannot be prevented in the future is vague. Future school mass shootings can be prevented by controlling the video game industry, training and arming teachers, investing in security detail, and capitalizing in early mental health assessment programs in schools. Furthermore, future mass shootings can be stopped by giving out harsh punishments on individuals who are found guilty of the crime, raising the age of purchasing a gun, having stricter background checks before issuing guns, and eliminating the easy and legal access of guns and ammunition that can facilitate high-fatality mass shootings. With the increase in mass shootings, it is important to prevent future mass shootings to save lives and to avoid unnecessary deaths and injuries.
Campion, Edward W., et al. "After the Mass Shooting in Las Vegas—Finding Common Ground on Gun Control." (2017): 1679-1680.
Heilbrun Kirk, Dvoskin Joel, and Heilbrun Anna. "Toward Preventing Future Tragedies: Mass Killings on College Campuses, Public Health, and Threat/risk Assessment." Psychological Injury and Law 2.2 (2009): 93-99.
Fox, James Alan, and DeLateur Monica J. "Mass Shootings in America: Moving Beyond Newtown." Homicide Studies 18.1 (2014): 125-145.
Kupchik, Aaron, Brent John J., and Mowen Thomas J. "The Aftermath of Newtown: More of the Same." British Journal of Criminology 55.6 (2015): 1115-1130.
McGinty, Emma E., Webster Daniel W., and Barry Colleen L. "Effects of News Media Messages about Mass Shootings on Attitudes toward Persons with Serious Mental Illness and Public Support for Gun Control Policies." American Journal of Psychiatry 170.5 (2013): 494-501.
Metzl, Jonathan M., and MacLeish Kenneth T. "Mental Illness, Mass Shootings, and the Politics of American Firearms." American Journal of Public Health 105.2 (2015): 240-249.
Pujol, Jesus, et al. "Video Gaming in School Children: How much is Enough?" Annals of Neurology 80.3 (2016): 424-433.
Schamess Andrew. How to Prevent Mass Shootings- PAN Position Paper. Physician Action Network. 28 Oct. 2017 https://physiciansactionnetwork.com/how-to-prevent-mass shootings-pan-position-paper/ Accessed 5 December 2018.
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