Mass shootings in the United States can't be solved with knee-jerk measures. All this finger-pointing and arguing isn't helping one bit either. Instead of passing blame and arguing over quick blanket fixes that won't really do any good, let's first figure out what's causing and facilitating all these acts of violence.
Before we even start talking about guns, let's first focus on the individuals committing these heinous acts. What do they all have in common? Are there some common red flags or indicators that we can pick out? Without doing any real research other than what I've read in the news, I can put forward that a lot of these individuals were suffering from depression and other mental issues that, for the most part, went untreated. And it's not like people around them didn't notice they were disturbed or weird or scary. A lot of times it's just that people didn't think it was worth reporting. And God forbid if someone actually reached out the individual and just tried to befriend them or help them. Many were loners and outcasts and they were not only depressed, they were enraged with how society treated them as individuals. They wanted revenge and they wanted to be famous.
Which brings me to the next piece in this puzzle. The media. We live in an age of almost-instant news. I'm not saying the media purposely glorifies these shooters, but it's obviously been made to look like a very attractive alternative to living a depressing, downtrodden life for these mentally disturbed individuals. I've seen many reports of these people listing high casualty rates as one of their top priorities. Why? Because they'll make history if they can top the last highest total. It's the totally wrong way to become famous (or infamous) but it seems to be a common link with a lot of these shooters. So how can we (the media) not make such a big deal of these shootings? Good question. They ARE a big deal. It's the media's job to report them. I just think maybe they can go about the reporting differently. Use some restraint. Report the facts and then STFU for a while. Don't do these in-depth profiles of the shooters -that only glorifies them in the eyes of other disturbed individuals contemplating the same thing. In my opinion, news has morphed into more opinion pieces and entertainment than just straight reporting the facts. I think getting back to just reporting the news instead of sensationalizing the story might help.
And then there's guns. As much as all the die-hard 2nd Amendment-loving, NRA card-carrying fanatics want to deny it, we need to seriously limit access to high-caliber, assault-style weaponry for the general public. Nobody needs an AR-15 for personal protection. If you think you do, you might want to think about moving to safer neighborhood/city/state. When our founding fathers drafted the language in the 2nd Amendment, they certainly didn't foresee, nor account for, advanced weaponry with armor-piercing bullets and grenade launching options. They were talking about the right of every law-abiding citizen to defend themselves. The year was 1791 and we didn't have the kind of law enforcement that we have now. There wasn't a cop nearby that you could summon on your cell phone. People had to be able to protect themselves and their family and they wanted to be able to legally keep a rifle or a gun in their house or on their person in order to do so. Fair enough in 1791, but it's a whole lot more complicated today. I still believe in the 2nd amendment, but we have to evolve a little bit, folks. Weaponry these days is a whole lot more advanced and a whole lot more deadly than it was in 1791. Everything is more advanced. Except people. People seem to be just as stubborn and misinformed as ever. When talking about gun control, all the pro-NRA folks immediately translate that into a BAN on gun ownership. So they're all dug in their trenches and wrapped up tight in the 2nd Amendment and unwilling to enter into any form of discussion because it will just end up taking all their precious guns away from them. Next comes the cherry-picking of statistics to further enrage BOTH sides of the issue. Meanwhile, nothing gets done and folks on both sides of the issue become more angry and more adamant and... NOTHING GETS DONE.
Which brings us to the government and our politicians. All of them got into office by accepting campaign contributions -some of them from very powerful political lobbyists. Ya know, like the ones that work for the NRA. The more money you take, the more you're expected to side with your donors. So let's call these campaign contributions what they really are... BRIBES. We've been talking for decades now about eliminating lobbying from Washington. I think that's a tremendously great idea, but money talks and these lobbyists have BILLIONS to spend. It's tough for us normal folks to have our voices heard in such a system. Short of a revolution (which would be ugly in itself and destroy our entire society as we know it), I don't see any easy fix for the corruption in Washington. It's everywhere and it's an ingrained, integral part of our system of government. Sad but true. If you don't think money and effective advertising can buy anything these days, look no further than who is President right now. He got there using smoke and mirrors and lots of money from lots of powerful business people who saw him as the best thing to happen to them since corporations became people.
What we, as individuals, CAN do is keep pressure on our elected officials. Stop arguing with each other back and forth on Facebook and communicate directly with your county and state representatives. The odds are better that something positive will come from that. Also, get involved with your school and your community. If you have a neighbor who appears to be struggling for any reason, see if you can help them or at least point them in the direction of someone who can. If you're a parent, talk to your kids about all this shit. Get their thoughts and get a feel for what they're feeling. Tell them to help and befriend that loner at their school and report anything they feel is not right or suspicious. Most importantly, make sure you're not raising the next school shooter. Don't be afraid to be involved in your kids' lives. Don't believe everything they tell you, be a spy, invade their privacy. It really is your right as a parent. It's the only way you'll ever have any clue about some of the stupidly ridiculous things they do or think about doing.
Everything I just mentioned is a piece of the puzzle. Leaving any one of these things out of the discussion won't bring about the change we need. The solution -or at least an effective mitigation- to the issue of mass shootings must involve calm, logical, fact-based analysis and discussions involving the areas of mental health services and screening, responsible media coverage and reporting practices, effective and fair gun control legislation to include enhanced licensing and tracking of personally-own firearms, increased security measures and counter-measures at schools and other public buildings, community-based education and awareness programs, and a willingness for everyone to get involved and report suspicious activities. You would think all of this would've already been done, but I believe everyone has been too busy arguing and pointing fingers.