Friday, August 9, 2019

Why Overstating Mass Shootings May Make Matters Worse

Earlier this week, I wrote an article about politicians and the media saying there had been over 250 “Mass Shootings” so far this year alone. I argued, and continue to argue, that his number is deceptive. I was “questioned” by one reader who implied I was being callus and the victims did not matter to me. The reader asked how many were too many for me.

One murder a year is too many for me. One mass shooting is too many for me. Anyone who knows me (and this reader does know me) should know I believe this passionately.

I am also concerned with the dialogue that is filling the airwaves. When an individual or the media use the term "mass shooting" casually, they are doing a disservice to victims and complicating or preventing the search for real solutions to the problem.

The 253 mass shootings that are listed in the (supposed) “Gun Violence” database represent a multitude of problems with vastly different solutions. Some of the events that are casually lumped together under the heading "mass shootings" include gang related drive by shootings. Other events include "family annihilators" and still others are simple drug related homicides.

The over 250 number is one used by certain politicians and political groups to advance their agenda. They search for a way to make the number as high as possible to create public outrage, hoping to force the changes they desire. But by doing this, we run the risk of creating a "solution" that does not fit the problem. This is a disservice to the public and disrespectful to the victims.

Take the "family annihilators"- these are people who kill their spouse and children or if they do not have a spouse just the children, and often themselves. If an annihilator has four victims, the event goes in the mass shooting database. But, a solution of "gun control" will not stop this type event. A family annihilator is "driven" to wipe out the family. The weapon they use is irrelevant. Sometimes the weapon used is carbon monoxide. The annihilator packs the family in the car in the garage with the door closed and starts the engine. Sometimes it is drowning- they drive the car with the family off a bridge. Or the weapon could be a knife. With these type events, having a gun does not matter. The annihilator becomes convinced they must destroy the family, so they use anything they can to kill everyone in the family. We will never see a decrease in this type event from gun control. However, we may see a decrease if we improve the mental health system and mental health care access. 

Likewise, banning guns will not stop drug related homicides- the murders will happen with knives. For this situation the solutions would seem to need to be treatment for the underlying drug addictions. Addressing the socio-economic issues in areas with high gang activity could be a solution for gang related violence that is lumped in as "mass shootings."

Terrorism related mass murders will also not be stopped by any type of gun control measure, unfortunately. These killers want to create terror. They will use trucks; they will use aircraft; they will use fertilizer and diesel fuel. They will use any weapon that kills as many as possible and creates a huge impact. Terrorists do not quietly kill with poison- unless they are trying to kill thousands at once, nor will they try to kill in a way that no one will detect. They WANT people to see the murders. They WANT people talking about the murders and mostly they WANT the mass terror. Really the murder itself is irrelevant to them- the terror, the fear, the distrust that comes from the event is what they really want.

By looking at the problems as smaller subsets with different solutions, the "Political" picture changes. By pushing the "over 250 Mass Shootings This Year Alone" mantra, certain people and groups try to force the dialogue to a direction they want. So, the question must be asked, is the goal of those politicians who are out there saying "We have had over 250 Mass Shootings this Year- the time to ban assault weapons is NOW” REALLY to save lives, or is their goal to ban guns? Looking at the numbers, it does not seem to be that they want to save lives.

Do we need to stop these mass shootings – ABSOLUTELY! So instead of scaring people into a "solution" that will not work, lets break the numbers down. Let’s talk about Mental Health care reform and increasing access to mental health care in areas where that could make a difference. Let’s talk about improving the socio-economic situation in gang infested areas- if the gangs go away- evaporate- so will the gang violence. Likewise, banning guns will not stop drug related homicides- the murders will happen with knives. For this the solutions would seem to need to be treatment for the underlying drug addictions.

"We have had over 250 Mass Shootings this Year- the time to ban assault weapons is NOW" - we have heard this sound bite all week. But not once have we heard that Rifles - ALL TYPES of Rifles- only account for an average less than 320 homicides a year over the period 2013-2017 (inclusive) according to the FBI Expanded Homicide Data (table 8- weapons used in homicides). Less than 320 for ALL TYPES of RIFLES- "assault rifles" account for less than the 320. So, the "SOLUTION" of banning "Assault Rifles" would never solve the problem of "Mass Shootings."

Let's START talking about REAL solutions. Let’s START talking about solving the root causes of violence- rather than grouping all these murders together in an effort to win a political battle, and watching the same number of mass shootings occur next year, and letting more people die.


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