In looking at the more comprehensive picture of gun violence this article will address causes and solutions, a follow-up to Gun Violence Part 1 The Deadly Year in Review . While Sandy Hook drew attention to the broader issue of gun violence, and mass murder in particular, reality shows us that it is not a singular issue and the solutions to it aren’t singular either. Besides mass murder, violence ripples through the nation in the form of gangs, families killed by murder/suicide to protect them from impending doom, and kids killed by guns that have not been properly stored. A single solution such as banning high-capacity magazines or “assault rifles” barely touches the other causes.
In reviewing my database of mass murders, I chose the past 30 years to analyze. I did that to glean long-term information, rather than concentrate on just the horrors of past year. First, a look at the raw numbers:
Number of Incidences: 81
Number of Guns: 151
Of the guns, 25 were variants of the AK-47, AR-15, plus multiple Uzi, TEC-9, and MAC11s. Forty-nine were either 9mm or 40 cal handguns of various brands. On the other side, 10 were either .22 pistols or rifles, though in all but one case, they were from crimes that just barely made the threshold for Mass Murder [four killed].
The shooters ranged from 11 years old to 68 and all were men except one female postal worker. Of the shooters, 26 were arrested, 15 killed and 39 committed suicide at the scene. One, in Las Cruces, NM, in 1990, remains unsolved.
Causes By the Numbers
Three of the causes that are discussed as triggers of this violence are mental health issues, the contribution of television and movies and first person shooter games. After reviewing the raw data I would add job stress, bullying and domestic strife as three others. There are glaring examples of four of these causes in the data but the other two [TV/movies and video games] show no direct causal link. In other words, we can see instances where mental health breakdown led to events, we have examples of school and workplace bullying and we have examples of folks going off on their families and we have examples of workplace stress … one which gave us the phrase “Going Postal.” But, while the desensitization from TV/Movies and video games may exist, that link can’t be proven. Fifty-four of the shooters either killed themselves after their crime or were killed at the scene, making it difficult to glean data.
The only common denominator is the weapons they had to use. While many argue that “they would have just used something else,” the data doesn’t show that. Besides examples like Tim McVeigh and Oklahoma City or arson, most chose the most convenient and efficient tools for the job.
Of the Top 12 events (10 murders or more) the primary weapon of choice was the Handgun in five, the AR-15 and Uzi made up five more and the remaining were either a shotgun or a Colt .45 semi-automatic.
When talking about gun violence, the subject is not just about mass murder. That gets the headlines, but is only a small part of the story. In the 2000s, we averaged over 12,000 murders a year and we add to that over 50,000 deliberate and over 23,000 accidental non-fatal gunshot injuries. The FBI says that two-thirds of those are firearms related.
Of those “other” deaths per year, gang violence is responsible for between 1,000-1,300 per year. Over 500 children under 12 are killed each year, mostly by a family member’s gun not properly stowed.
And then there are the families killed by the father who, for what ever reason believes that there is an impending doom – caldera, financial collapse, government tyranny, pandemic … the list goes on. To this last category, known contributing factors are media and the internet. Information shows that those who believe in these prophecies of doom get their data from the internet blogosphere — from talk show hosts who promote it as part of their fear, uncertainty and dread mantra against “those in power” (whoever happens to be in office at the time) and from the newest reality shows on TV, those focusing on doomsday preparation, protection from “them” and a drumbeat of a pending society “without rule of law” (WROL).
A former participant in Doomsday Preppers:
A review of what is causing this history of gun violence shows mental health issues, gang activity, paranoia of doom, improperly stowed weapons, domestic violence, job stresses, bullying and the one common denominator – guns. What this tells us is that the contributors are manifold, the “shooters” are diverse in experience and the solutions to solving this will be very complex puzzle. The goals can never be 100 percent, because no solution will arrive at that goal, even if the Constitution was altered and gun ownership was eliminated. And what that means is that we cannot afford knee-jerk solutions, we cannot afford to walk over the rights of the many to band-aid a solution. BUT, we can look at all the variables, guns included, and determine what the best overall solutions are that address the issues that we, as a society have in the 21st Century.
And that takes us to a look at SOLUTIONS in Part 3.
See more from McAllister Bryant at http://shootfromthelefthip.wordpress.com