More Than Gun Control

An illness in American society that's beyond the NRA and politics is right under our nose, but we refuse to talk about it

Hayk Rostomyan, Production Editor

There is a pattern of finger pointing that occurs in the aftermath of a mass shooting. Those who lean on the left side of politics blame the president (particularly if he’s a Republican) and the National Rifle Association. Those on the right side blame the incident on a lack of good guys with firearms and social mental illness. Who’s right and who’s wrong?

What if we are ignoring the true reason for the increase in mass shootings in the United States.Long before the shooting in Parkland Fla., the United States experienced a massacre in Columbine, Colo. Three years later, a documentary maker targeted the Second Amendment. “I made  “Bowling for Columbine” in the hope the school shootings would stop and that we would address the issue of how easy it is to get a gun in the United States, and tragically those school shootings continue,” said ideologue Michael Moore. He focuses on those who break the law by mocking those who bear arms and are the good guys.

More importantly, states that have changed their laws to protect citizens haven’t necessarily seen the progress. California has some of the strictest gun laws. However, they have the most murders committed by firearms according to the FBI 2016 Crimes in the United States report. Could it be that murdering someone in the state, with any weapon, is easier when so few have a way of protecting themselves within firearms?

This also works in contradiction to the number of households who own firearms that had lowered from 51 percent of homes in 1978 to 31 percent of homes in 2014 according to the NORC, University of Chicago, General Social Survey.

There seems to be a correlation in states with strict gun control and an increase in gun-related crimes. According to FBI statistics, in the United States during 2016, 1,604 people had been murdered by knives, 472 killed by blunt objects like bats and hammers, and personal weapons (hands, feet) had ended 656 lives. In the same year handguns resulted in 7,105 deaths while rifles were used to kill 374 people.

This goes against the idea that assault rifles are the deadliest weapons in America. There popular argument is that it’s easy to go into a state with relaxed gun control like Arizona, get an assault weapon, and sneak it through state lines. However, most of the firearms used in violent crimes are purchased from the black market, an illegal method of getting weapons.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms stated that there were over 190,000 guns reported either lost or stolen in 2012, and the ATF has reported that over 177,000 were lost or stolen from private residents and vehicles. So the argument that gun control can prevent mass shootings is again proven wrong. This does not mean that the 50 states should just give out firearms. Some sort of gun control is needed at the state level to prevent an incident like the one in Parkland.

After all, the monster that killed 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas high school was able to legally purchase an AR-15 even with all the red flags in the air.

We can pretend video games are the problem all we want, even though studies show most mass murderers aren’t playing “Call of Duty.” The real social issues that affect Americans are those of poverty, mental illness, and broken households.When looking at the lives of criminals, a pattern correlated with a low-income lifestyle is noticeable. It’s possible that a system that creates more jobs can prevent a desperate person from committing theft and robbery. After all, why would a person who has their needs met turn to a life of crime?

As for the issue of mental illness, that is more complicated to solve. Possibly a psychological type of help could determine whether a person is allowed to buy a weapon or not. How do we get ahead of the issue? It can start early by someone being bullied in school or living within a toxic household. To prevent a psychopath from being created we have to take the burden as a society to identify these problems and getting help for these people instead of staying silent.

We live in a society where we are taking shame away. If a young man is strange, we say that it’s okay and we should not bully him. We have begun to accept the unacceptable. We saw this in countless interviews given by former classmates of the Florida teen who killed other students and teachers.

Some say he was a victim. He was awkward and he had a tough upbringing. Well, tough luck. If he was bullied, maybe he deserved it and other students were trying to serve social justice.

It’s shocking to call the victim a part of the problem. Lest we forget, the Columbine shooters were victims of heavy bullying because they dressed in black in goth fashion. A week before that shooting they were allegedly confronted by their school peers and were criticized with homophobic slurs. That’s not okay, but it doesn’t validate what they did. These kids had problems and no one stepped in.

Now consider the shooter at Florida. He is a 19 year old that was part of a white supremacist gang. A 19 year old could be saved from following a dark path if they are shown the reality of life; that race does not play a factor of whether you are good or bad. Ignoring the problem and brushing it under the carpet creates a time bomb.

Another step we can take is to identify an addiction to the internet. The internet is a great tool that connects us to the world and allows avenues to learn all sorts of wonderful things. However for some people, the internet can turn into a addiction just like gambling.This extreme introversion creates a person who is ignorant to the norms of society. They become outcasts in the real world so they become parts of groups online that are nothing more than echo chambers. These online echo chambers are able to feed the negative stereotypes of someone’s thoughts with memes like Pepe the Frog. Replacing what should be a dark joke into a perversion of reality.

An additional issue that is credited for an increase in criminal behavior is the rise of single-parent households. American society has been ignoring its family values by seeking simple pleasures. The divorce rates have increased to be over 50 percent, the American Psychological Association notes. That doesn’t even factor that there are many single parents struggling to be both mom and dad to a kid.

Jordan Peterson, a clinical psychologist for the University of Toronto in Canada, credits degenerative behavior to broken marriages. He says that a person growing up in a home with two parents allows the kids to get a good mix of values from their mother and their father.His analysis stated that two sets of parents, almost always, results in a more well-rounded child. In contrast a single parent household, where there is a missing father usually, the child is far more likely to either have substance abuse issues or to become a criminal.

The Florida shooter, experienced a trouble upbringing and acted out violently when he was a young as two. There were so many red flags that he needed help. Instead, his adoptive parents kept guns around him. They told the media they had no clue he was sucked into anti-Semitic and white supremacist conspiracy theories. The signs, however, were there.

We should learn from these tragedies in order to prevent more individuals from turning to the dark side.

There are many angles to the problem of violence in the USA. Simple gun control legislation is not enough to save lives. These laws would serve as a band aide and they are not enough to heal the societal wound. America needs to look at the underlying issues of its culture before treating its symptoms.

Hayk Rostomyan can be reached at [email protected]