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Another Mass Shooting: Gun Problem? No. Mental Health Problem

Jason is tired of hearing about mass shootings happening so often in the United States.

Brooklyn, NY: the scene of another mass shooting. When does it end?

Brooklyn, NY: the scene of another mass shooting. When does it end?

The Issue of Gun Control

For the longest time, I was convinced that we had a gun control issue in the United States. But now I don’t feel like that’s the case anymore. Not as much as I once did, at least.

Most pro-gun people will tell you that gun control does nothing other than putting more illegal guns in more criminals' hands. They say that then we won’t have any way to protect ourselves as honest, law-abiding citizens.

I do understand that logic. I’m personally all in for sensible gun laws that help protect against gun-related accidents and thefts. I like the idea of armed citizens being able to stop the next mass shooting, which is certainly due to occur any day now.

I don’t think banning firearms in the U.S. will ever happen. And it’s not going to end random gun violence anyway.

I don’t think banning firearms in the U.S. will ever happen. And it’s not going to end random gun violence anyway.

I think the issue is less about gun control or banning all guns in the United States, and more about examining the mental health needs of the people committing these acts of domestic terrorism.

Statistically, virtually all mass shootings in the past 50 years have been by men. There are a few exceptions, but my guess is that somewhere between 95% to 99% of mass shootings have been carried out by men.

Why is that? Women don’t get angry? Women don’t hold in their sad, angry feelings until they snap and carry out violence against innocent people? Certainly, this cannot be true.

Maybe it’s the testosterone coursing through men’s veins? I’m not really sure. Maybe it’s men playing ultra-violent video games from childhood well into adulthood and glorifying violence in media, TV, and movies? But some women do that as well, right?

I don’t blame violent movies like Pulp Fiction for the mass shootings in the U.S.

I don’t blame violent movies like Pulp Fiction for the mass shootings in the U.S.

I think it’s a lazy cop-out to blame video games and the media. I’ve been playing violent video games and watching movies like Pulp Fiction, Reservoir Dogs, and Natural Born Killers since I was a kid. I’ve never had the urge to arm myself and try to kill as many people as I possibly could. I’ve worked out with weights all of my adult life, and I think I have as much testosterone as the next guy, maybe more. So what could it be?

I think a big contributing factor to this is not having a solid support system. I think there are a LOT of men who are socially awkward, not smooth with the ladies, and not great at making friends. They may have different or odd personalities that turn people off from wanting to be around them.

They may also be estranged from their families, spouses, and children. I think when you feel like you have nobody in your corner, it can lead you to a dark, harmful, and desperate place. To live in that negativity and not have someone close encouraging you to seek professional help when you’re struggling can set some people off and send them over the edge.

Some people think that banning all guns is the answer to the mass shooting crisis we face in America. I don’t agree. I think you have to look at the root cause of these mass shootings, not just how they are usually facilitated.

I believe in my heart of hearts that if every weapon was confiscated overnight by our government, it would not reduce the frequency of mass killings. If anything, angry citizens who were forced to turn over their weapons would go off the deep end in record numbers. I think we’d break records for the number of mass killings in our country and the frequency at which they’d be occurring.

I think men would find other ways to carry out their sickening and diabolical slaughter of the innocent. I feel that cars and trucks would become the number one method of killing innocent people. And the number of bombings would likely match or surpass the numbers in other countries around the world.

I’ve heard many people talking about their “God-given right” to bear arms.

I’ve heard many people talking about their “God-given right” to bear arms.

Guns are woven into the fabric of American history. With every war we’ve fought, whether it’s World War I, World War II, or even the Civil War against our fellow citizens, guns have played a giant part in the narrative. The romanticizing of guns in our country, with many calling it their “God-given right” to bear arms, is never likely to change. So what’s the solution to ending mass shootings, or at least reducing them drastically?

Caring. Being good to each other. Being kind to friends, family, co-workers, and even strangers. A person who has good people in their corner who care about them is far less likely to commit a mass shooting. If we could try to make the loner types disappear by being good to everyone, we’d make a dent in this battle against mass shootings.

It will never be easy. Human beings have a tendency to stay in their own comfort zones, to spend time with the people that they are familiar with, and not be perceived as a threat. Look at how long we’ve dealt with racism and bigotry on a national scale. Sure it has improved. But it’s still pretty much terrible as a whole.

Until we try to care for our brother, as we’re instructed to do in the Bible, it is likely to be unchanged. Even if mental healthcare was suddenly free and easily accessible, there is no reason to believe the men who are in the darkest of places and plotting these mass shootings would seek help all on their own.

To be clear: I am not saying that people with mental health issues are always or even often the ones committing these horrific crimes. Plenty of people who struggle with their mental health would never hurt another human being. But I feel it’s a BIG contributing factor to certain folks who struggle with their mental health and have violent tendencies to want to hurt others.

Until we let love rule and try to erase hate, racism, bigotry, and all the other nasty things that are held onto so tightly by these people committing mass shootings, we’re likely going to stay in this same situation. Our children are going to eventually know somebody who has died in a mass shooting. Maybe more than one somebody.

We always have that feeling of “Well, that will never happen in MY town.” I used to think that as well, until we had a mass shooting this year in Boise, Idaho. At our local mall, a quarter of a mile from where I live and even closer to my bride’s counseling office. In fact, she was on the mall property the morning of that shooting.

The scene at our local mass shooting, Boise Towne Square, November 2021.

The scene at our local mass shooting, Boise Towne Square, November 2021.

The shooter was a racist. A man who had posted videos of himself killing animals. Somebody that most people probably stayed away from and felt was a weirdo. Maybe for a good reason. If he could have gotten help at a young age, maybe that mass shooting wouldn’t have happened at our local mall. Maybe he’d still be alive and not gunned down after shooting and killing numerous people last November.

I hate that I’m growing numb to mass shootings. I used to read every detail of every mass shooting on numerous websites. I’ve quit doing that. I’ve seen mass shootings happen many days in a row, and I’ve gone the same number of days of not reading about any of them. It wears on me, and reading about the details just makes me too sad to want to know more.

My heart goes out to the victims in Brooklyn. And Orlando. Vegas. Columbine. Sandy Hook. Boise. You get the picture. Let’s do our best to care for our fellow humans. Be there for somebody, and give them an ear to listen. Try to guide the ones you know who are struggling to talk to a professional. Don’t pass the buck and blame it all on guns. Someone is holding that weapon and choosing to pull the trigger.

This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.