Americans need change if we are ever to find a solution to mass shootings. In the ’80s and ’90s, we didn’t have many of the technologies that are now a normal part …
Americans need change if we are ever to find a solution to mass shootings. In the ’80s and ’90s, we didn’t have many of the technologies that are now a normal part of life. We didn’t have vast amounts of information available at our fingertips. Taking a video required someone to carry a heavy camcorder around; everyone now seems to have a video camera on their cellphone. Dial-up internet was painfully slow and until relatively recently, the non-stop news and social media was not widely accessible. Facebook was not even founded until 2004. Yet, many of the disturbed individuals committing these mass shootings grew up with the technology many of us never could have imagined just a few decades ago.
Admittedly, in recent years I was consumed with the national news and politics. However, after several years of my wife telling me the news was affecting my mood, I decided to “unplug.” At first I just watched a little less news, but then over time I began to see positive changes. As difficult as this is to admit, she was right, I was indeed happier without the negativity. I still pay attention to the news from time to time, but it no longer consumes my mood and time.
You are probably asking what the point of my story is. Well, it’s my hope that this information can also help someone else.
The national news media is no longer fair and impartial. Politicians are certainly no exception; they are also heavily influenced by special interest groups and party leaders. Unfortunately, many politicians are pushing divisive rhetoric, which does nothing to help solve the mass shootings. As concerned citizens, we have to do a better job of filtering information. A recent Op-Ed in the Los Angeles Times by Jillian Peterson and James Densley of The Violence Project outlined the commonalities almost all mass shooters seem to have. It’s probably not what you’re thinking. This story looked at a study completed by the National Institute of Justice, a research arm of the U.S. Department of Justice. After studying every mass shooting since 1966 they found the following: 1) The vast majority of shooters experienced early childhood trauma and exposure to violence at a young age. 2) Practically every mass shooter had an identifiable crisis in the weeks or months leading up to the incident. 3) Mass shootings are socially contagious, which explains why we often see more than one occur over a fairly short period of time. 4) All shooters had means to carry out their massacres, either taking guns from family members, personally owning guns or illegally obtaining them.
Despite what is reported in the media, evidence does not support politics or racism as a common motivation for mass shootings. The media often and incorrectly refers to AR-15s as assault rifles. The fact is that AR-15s are semi-automatic rifles and, according to the American Shooting Journal, “AR stands for Armalite Rifle, named after the company that developed this firearm.” The past has proven that people will use bombs, vehicles, knives, shotguns and just about any object to kill. It seems unlikely that more laws will stop mass murders.
Instead, we should focus on ways to change our thinking from what has not worked to what haven’t we tried yet. What has changed that could be a contributing factor? With all the technological advancements that have occurred over recent decades, it is difficult to recognize what unintended consequences might have come about. So, what can be done? There certainly needs to be more investigative research into the root cause of mass shootings, but this will certainly take some time. What can we do right now?
Consider “unplugging.” Turn off the news, set down the phone and try to reduce or eliminate how much time is spent on the internet or social media. Purge some of the unnecessary stress from your life. News organizations could also help tremendously by refusing to publish the shooter’s identity, pictures, manifestos and such. They can still tell a story without giving these sick individuals the fame and notoriety they seek. I’m not saying to put your blinders on; rather, I’m just suggesting a conscious effort to try something different. Pointing fingers at politicians, different religions, guns and races has not worked thus far, so really, what do we have to lose?