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The Jump in Shootings and Violence and its Relation to Mental Illness

Noah Brown, Editor, writer

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After events like the Oklahoma City bombing, the Columbine High School massacre, and other terror attacks on the US population, mass shootings have become more prevalent. Similarly, the recent shootings at the Texas church and the Las Vegas attack are indications that gun violence is huge issue that needs to be addressed.

The moments in which I saw the chaos unfold in the news after the Las Vegas shooting, made a strong impression on me. When I was finally able to see the news notifications bombarding my phone, I realized how serious this massacre was. There had been a shooting during a concert in Las Vegas. Early notifications started off with over 15 people dead and a couple hundred injured. Every few hours, however, the numbers would go up. 58 dead and over 500 injured.

It happened October 1st, 2017 during the Route 91 music festival. The chaos was triggered by one shooter ending lives in the crowd down below from his post on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino. He later killed himself before he could be detained. The bigger issue, though, was that he had multiple firearms stowed away in his bag that were left unchecked. The aftermath is history that would rather be forgotten, but can’t be. After all, it is especially difficult when many have acknowledged it as the deadliest mass shooting in American history.

One prominent reaction to the shooting was urging for the implementation of gun control. This concern has gained momentum since the spike in gun violence. On one side of the argument, pro-gun control promoters utilize past shootings and attacks as support to their argument. On the other side, anti-gun control advocates seem divided into two groups based on their motives. Some people support gun rights for the sake of the Second Amendment. People who own guns do not want to be restricted to access, especially if they are licensed to carry. Other gun right advocates believe that restrictions will simply be of no use.

As I observed the two sides and three different perspectives, I realized a number of things about what Americans want versus what the outcome will inevitably be. The problem with the implementation of the gun control is that not only would it make many people angry and resistant, but the current methods to determine an individual’s qualifications to possess a firearm are ineffective. This is where the Las Vegas shooting comes in, because the shooter’s accessibility was monitored. Purchasing a gun is one thing, but in the United States, individuals have to be licensed to carry a firearm, and there are consequences for a lack in authorization.

There are several problems that this story raises. First, it shows how easy it is for people to purchase guns. While there are restrictions on who can carry a gun on airplanes, the Vegas shooter was a resident. He was only getting a hotel room. The hotel that he went to did not search his bags because there was nothing on his criminal record to warrant the hotel to check him.
Gun control is a larger issue and passing legislation to heighten restrictions may happen in the future. For now, however, we need to think about the problem of mental health accommodations. The shooters at Columbine, the Batman Theater, Sandy Hook, Las Vegas and others all were later reported to have had mental breakdowns or already accounted-for mental illness. I would encourage us to think not only about targeting the perpetrator’s access to weapons but also thinking about how we can better support them so they don’t turn to violence.

Sources:

-Lynh Bui, Matt Zapotosky, Devlin Barrett and Mark Berman. “At least 59 killed in Las Vegas shooting rampage, more than 500 others injured,” October 2nd, 2017. Accessed: November 16th. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2017/10/02/police-shut-down-part-of-las-vegas-strip-due-to-shooting/?utm_term=.cc1cfebe2575

-picture: https://www.nbcnews.com/storyline/las-vegas-shooting/stephen-paddock-las-vegas-shooting-suspect-identified-n806471

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1 Comment

One Response to “The Jump in Shootings and Violence and its Relation to Mental Illness”

  1. Hanke Chen on March 21st, 2018 4:31 pm

    Indeed, there are many deaths caused by gun-shootings. But consider other things, this is a tiny issue in our human society. Consider how many people die in the war with the US in the Middle East and how many people die from heart disease, cancer, vehicle accident and hunger, the risk of getting killed by guns is way lower. As an APES student, I strongly encourage students who protest for gun control to have a broader view of the world.

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The Jump in Shootings and Violence and its Relation to Mental Illness