10 Reasons U.S. has so Many Mass Shootings
There is a rather strange paradox emerging in the United States. While overall violent crime rates are lower than ever, the number of active shooter events – where a person is trying to kill several people in an area that is populated – seem to be increasing at a steady rate.
It has also been discovered that the U.S. only contains about five percent of the population of the world, but 31 percent of the mass shooters in the world. According to researchers, the reasons for these numbers is quite complex, but some of the information suggests that the obsession Americans have with fame and the wide availability of guns may be partly to blame.
Regardless of what is to blame for mass shootings in the United States, there is one thing for sure, each time some type of mass shooting occurs, things turn decidedly more political – at least for a while. On one end of this spectrum the liberals are decrying gun laws as the reason for these mass homicides, while the conservatives are pointing their fingers toward violent video games and movies. Both sides turn that into an excuse that tops all other excuses – the issue is related to the state of these person’s mental health.
So, what really causes these mass shootings? As stated, there are a number of popular and unpopular opinions. The top 10 that seem to be the main reasons that people believe there are so many shootings can be found here.
10The Copycat Phenomenon
There is quite a bit of data that suggests a number of the mass shooters in the United States were mentally ill. However, other studies have concluded that the total number of mental cases in the U.S. has not risen significantly while the total number of mass shootings in America has increased quite a bit.
In fact, the occurrence of mass shootings tripled from 2011 to 2014. This was proven in a study that was done by the Harvard School of Public Health. The research displayed that the public attacks in that period of time occurred, on average, every 64 days. In the past 29 years, however, they occurred every 200 days, on average.
There are some researchers who hold the belief that these types of mass killings are contagious – when one shooting or killing occurs, it increases the odds that another one will occur in about a two-week period.
However, the copycat phenomenon is also spurred on by how easy it is for Americans to gain access to guns. This thought of going out and doing the same thing is not completely out there simply because it is so easy for these people to acquire the gun.
Right now, more than one-third of the people in America state that someone in their home actually owns a gun. The country that has the next highest number of guns in homes is India.
9The Desire for Fame
It is particularly eerie that there may be a connection between mass shootings and a person’s desire for fame; however, it is something that must be considered. Take for example, the August 26th killing of a Virginia cameraman and reporter while on air. The shooter supposedly recorded the entire event with a GoPro camera and later shared the footage on social media. Since there were less than four victims during this event, it is not even considered a mass shooting. There is no question, however, that the apparent desire to show off the crime places this killer in the exact same company as the well-known mass shooters from the past 10 years.
According to some experts, the shooters simply want attention. That is why they try to gain a larger head count, to try and outdo the last mass shooting, or create something that is going to cause more of a stir. An example of this would be the recent Orlando mass shooting at the LGBT nightclub. Not only did this shooter have a body count higher than any other mass shooting in U.S. history, he also added a controversial side by entering into the LGBT space.
After the shooting, the person who claimed to be the gunman in Virginia sent a fax that was 23 pages to ABC News once the shooting took place, making the claim that he was influenced by the Virginia Tech shooter, Seung-Hui Cho. The fax also made the claim that the shooting was a response to the mass killing at the Charleston church that occurred in June.
According to a survey by Mother Jones, mental illness is a likely factor in mass shootings. In fact, 38 of the 61 mass shooters from the past 30 years showed signs of mental health issues prior to the mass shooting act. However, for 20 years it has been illegal for the Centers for Disease Control to try and determine the underlying cause of these mass shootings. This makes it difficult to say, for sure, if this is a factor that is a direct cause of mass shootings in the United States.
Another challenge with determining whether or not mental illness is a contributing factor in mass shootings is the stigma that surrounds it. There are other illnesses that people can discuss and that are accepted and supported. However, mental health is often stigmatized and looked on as some type of moral fail. This means that many people go on undiagnosed until it is too late.
When issues such as depression and PTSD are present, they have to be diagnosed and addressed prior to some type of tragedy or mass shooting occurring. Otherwise, it is just an assumption that this problem was present prior to the incident occurring.
However, there are others who say that it is not right to align mass shootings and mental illness. While it makes sense as a logical conclusion that mental illness might play some role, when you actually analyze the numbers, most of the mass shootings occurring in the U.S. are performed by those who are found not to be insane or have any other signs of some type of significant mental illness.
Research has shown that when a mass shooting occurs, it results in a higher number of states to reevaluate laws in order to loosen gun control, rather than to tighten it, contrary to popular belief. A caveat of this is that there isn’t much to say about the magnitude of the changes in the laws. It is completely possible that the impact of a single tightening law would work to outweigh the effect of five loosening gun laws, for example.
The study took time to examine all gun control legislation, as well as mass shootings in the U.S from the years of 1989 to 2014. It discovered that the mass shooting in one state resulted in the creation of 2.5 more gun control bills being proposed, which is a 15 percent increase. For each additional death that took place during the shooting that was evaluated, beyond the initial four to deem it a mass shooting, increased the rate by 2.5 percent. As gun laws change, a person’s ability to access guns is not significantly changed, which is why some blame the laws for being inadequate in eliminating the ability for a would-be shooter to access a gun. No real action or stance has been taken by the state or government that would eliminate or make it more difficult for would-be shooters to access a gun.
6Access to Guns
There are some who claim it is more difficult to get a pet in the United States, than it is a gun. There are hundreds of stores that sell guns, from big chain stores such as WalMart to family run locations. There are also dozens of gun shows that occur throughout the nation each week. People also have the ability to purchase guns from family members, friends and neighbors.
A background check will only be conducted during an in-store gun purchase. At this point the person buying the gun has to fill out the form from the AFT (Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives). The information that is required includes the person’s name, their address, birthplace, citizenship and race. Providing a social security number is option, but recommended. There are also a number of form questions such as if the person has been convicted of a felony, misdemeanor or domestic violence; if the person is addicted or user of a controlled substance and if they are a fugitive from justice. They also have to answer if they have ever been committed to a mental institution.
At this point, the store will call the FBI and run a background check through NCIS, which often just takes a few minutes. While this sounds thorough, denials only occur less than one percent of the time. The lack of a waiting period and other barriers makes it quite easy for virtually anyone to acquire or purchase a gun in the U.S. On top of this, even if a person is denied buying a gun from a store, there are no background checks at gun shows, so most will simply make the purchase there.
There are some who blame the shooters parents for the mass shootings that take place. They claim enough was not done during their upbringing to steer them away from this type of action in the future. One example of his is the mother of Chris Harper-Mercer, who shot nine people to death in an Oregon community college classroom.
Some question the fact that if in this case, Laurel Harper, his mother, shares part of the blame. Thanks to her posting on online forums about her son, it was clear she was worried about the developmental issues he suffered from, but she was also passionate about a person’s gun rights.
Harper had a number of similarities to the mother of Adam Lanza, who shot and killed six adults and 20 children at Sandy Hook Elementary School. While it is not black and white to say parents are the cause of these actions, it is true that not many parents are searching for flags that treatment or intervention is necessary. If they would simply be aware of what is going on, they may be able to minimize the potential of violent crimes being committed down the road.
While there are no definite conclusions that parents are the cause of mass shootings, in the case of Harper, it seems to be a contributing factor. She saw her son, whom she loved, floundering, and decided to bond over the one thing they had in common – guns.
4President Barrack Obama
During Obama’s term in office, between the years of 2009 and 2015, there have been 162 mass murders and 18 incidents that included eight or more deaths with the most recent being the devastation at the Orlando nightclub. When you consider this against previous presidents and the rate of mass shootings that occurred, its increase is quite alarming. For example, during Reagan’s term, between 1981 and 1989, there were 11 mass shootings. During George H. W. Bush’s term, between 1989 and 1993, there were 12 mass murders. Bill Clinton’s terms, between the years of 1993 and 2001, saw 23 mass murders, and during George W. Bush’s terms, between the years of 2001 to 2009, there were 20 mass murders.
The rate of mass shootings and murders during Obama’s presidency is six times what it was in previous years. There is something going on here, which leads to the question of, “what?”
After the Sandy Hook Shooting, President Obama passed a total of 23 gun control executive orders. He also continually mentions that gun control in the U.S. mirrored what was in place in Australia and the UK, where sweeping gun bans have been implemented. The president also continues to express his desire to increase what he can do in terms of gun control, but the situation only seems to worse with every comment and law that is made by this president. While he may not be the sole cause of mass shootings, it seems like this is definitely a factor.
Gun manufactures seem to be getting some heat with the rise in mass shootings in the United States, as well. After all, if they did not produce these guns in such large numbers, the issue of mass shootings would not be present to begin with. There are individuals who claim manufacturers have become irresponsible in their manufacturing and distribution methods, which is a contributing factor to all the mass shootings that occur in America.
However, the issue with this argument is the fact you cannot sue every rope company that manufactured a piece of rope used to hang someone. This is not a feasible argument and the main reason why gun manufacturers have not come under more scrutiny with the increase in these mass shooting incidents.
However, gun manufacturing is big business. The more customers there are, the more business there will be for the big gun companies. This means that some of the tactics to get big gun orders, and the willingness to sell, makes it easier for some people, who would otherwise not have access to firearms, to purchase one. There are some who believe the companies do not operate ethically, which has led to more of these mass shootings in the recent years.
While this is not a rock solid argument, for many people, especially those who are a victim of these mass shootings, it is one that needs to be addressed, since it is obviously a factor in how easily a person is able to obtain a gun.
When a mass shooting occurs, the public often scrambles to better understand the motivation of the perpetrator. While religious extremism has been blamed for the Paris attacks, the Charlie Hebdo attack and the San Bernardino shooting, blaming a single ideology is nothing new.
Violence in different forms of media – especially film and video games – has often been blamed as the inspiration for mass shooting perpetrators. While video games are still considered a relatively young form of media, they also have a rather rocky history with activists.
There are a number of studies that link those who play video games for hours each day or spend quite a bit of time watching violent television or films are more likely to experience aggressive thoughts. However, the biggest concern is “imitation crime,” which is when individuals want to mimic what they see other people do.
The fact is that the consumption of violent media may lead to an increase in a person’s aggressive thoughts; however, these thoughts are not always acted on. While there are a number of mass shooters who were immersed in the consumption of violent video games, television and film, a large number of them were also considered to be mentally ill. This leads experts to believe that a mass shooter is not a product of a single reason or cause. It is essential to explore all the possibilities and how the variables work with one another that may create this extremely violent individual.
Almost every mass shooting that has occurred in the past two decades, as well as instances of isolated shootings and suicides, there is one thing they all have in common…and it’s not guns.
There is quite a bit of evidence that suggests the largest, single factor that leads to these incidents is the fact that either each of the individuals were taking some type of strong psychotropic drug, or had been at some point right before their crimes occurred.
There are a number of scientific studies that go back more than a decade, and internal documentation from pharmaceutical companies that have hidden the information to show that Selective Serotonin Re-Uptake Inhibitors (SSRI) drugs have known, but quite a few unreported side-effects. This includes violent behavior and suicide. In fact, all you have to do is Google the right keywords to see that there are more than 4500 reported cases of violent behavior or aberrant from those who are taking these powerful and dangerous drugs.
This list of mass shooting perpetrators, as well as the drugs they had been taken, or were taken prior to their actions, was published on Facebook by the owner of Noveske Rifleworks, John Noveske just days prior to his death in a one-car accident. There is no known link between this outing of information and his death, but it is under speculation by many for several reasons.
These drugs are dangerous and play a significant role in mass shooting incidents. Simply looking at the facts proves this point.
As you can clearly see from the information highlighted here, there are a vast array of reasons that there are so many mass shootings taking place in the United States. Being able to narrow the cause down to a single issue is virtually impossible. The fact is, several of these factors are likely at play in each, individual situation. Being informed of what is going on and looking at the facts from an objective standpoint is the best way to determine the underlying cause of these attacks.
However, when Americans are attacked, it is extremely difficult for anyone – victims, their families, communities, states and even strangers – to look at the situation objectively. The senseless taking of another person’s life is not something that most people can understand and when it happens in numbers of four – or more – such as in mass shootings, it only makes the entire situation more difficult to comprehend.
There is no question that there are quite a few people in America who are capable of these heinous acts. However, it is not possible to narrow down who they are based on a specific cause or reason. Being aware of some of the most popular theories can help you better understand the situation, but not provide a comprehensive answer to why these mass shootings occur. The fact is, those who commit these crimes need help and need to be found prior to the action taking place.