Shooting Back at America’s Deadliest Problem

By Sasha Agapiev

WANT Esteemed Contributor

It is now a well known fact that mass shootings in America have become a common occurrence, with death rates attributed to such incidents higher than those in almost all other developed nations. Throughout the past decade and a half, we have seen the number of school shootings skyrocket, as have the number of public massacres. In fact, such tragedies have become so familiar that it is difficult for us to be shocked when another, new one takes place. We have reached a point in time where parents from all around the world are reluctant to send their children to American schools in fear that they might one day get shot on campus.

As if this weren’t already bad enough, research and statistics have revealed that mass shootings in this country are appearing more and more frequently, especially in the past few years.

Just take a look at these alarming charts:

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And arguably the most alarming chart of all:

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I would keep supplying you with charts, statistics and pictures illustrating the true magnitude of the problem at hand, but that would be useless, because the issue is, and has been for quite some time now, very evident. Too many people who shouldn’t be allowed to be in possession of dangerous weapons are somehow getting hold of assault rifles and other various firearms. However, this isn’t the real problem, this is merely one of the many roots of our problem. The real trouble is coming as a result of our unwillingness to take action, our disinclination to have some actual initiative to deal with what is happening.

Since gun violence is a popular debate topic in America right now, we have been graced with the opportunity to hear many various politicians speak about their opinions regarding the subject and to discover their proposals on how to deal with the crisis. Or at least that’s what should be happening. When you actually listen to what many of these politicians say in response to the inexplicably high number of school shootings, they usually always respond with the generic “This is an obvious problem, and we have to work together to solve it or else it will keep happening again.” Yes, I know that in reality, they don’t make this same exact statement, but most of their speeches end up leaving us with the same sense of emptiness and disinterest as the previous one. Everyone says that we need to change our flawed system, but they never provide the concrete solutions or suggestions that are necessary to inspire change, as it is harder for people to aspire to accomplish something when they don’t know what they would have to do in order to accomplish it. So to avoid being a hypocrite and to try my best to stray as far always as possible from the hollow, meaningless method of speaking that we see so often in the news, I am going to provide you all with some feasible solutions to help solve our nation’s most pressing issue.

Suggestion Number 1:

As I stated previously, our main problem derives from the fact that too many people who shouldn’t be in possession of potentially harmful weapons manage to have access to guns. I believe that this happens because the requirements one has to meet in order to purchase a gun aren’t nearly as strict as they should be. Take a car, for example. To get a driver’s license, you must first take driving courses,  then you must fill out several time consuming forms and questionnaires at the DMV, and then you must finally engage in a driving test in which a trained driver assesses your skills and eventually helps decide whether or not you are eligible to drive on your own. We make the process so demanding because cars are potentially dangerous when driven by people who haven’t been deemed safe and responsible. The same goes for guns, as they can be extremely harmful when used by someone who isn’t trustworthy or sensible, yet the procedure for purchasing a rifle is far less sophisticated and complex than the procedure for receiving a driver’s license.

Suggestion Number 2:

After school shootings occur, one question that tends to pop-up in the discussion is “Who was the kid who did it, and why did he/she do it?” However, it is useless trying to identify and analyze the culprit after he/she already committed his/her crime. If we really want to prevent future school shootings from taking place, we have to learn how to identify mass murderers before they become mass murderers. I know that this may sound like an unfathomable task, but there are already several scientifically proven characteristics that mass murderers portray that can be identified before the person has done anything wrong. For example, most school shooters have been described as antisocial, angry students who didn’t ever seem to fit in with the crowds. Additionally, it has been proven through scientific studies that individuals with unusually slow heart-rates and with prefrontal cortexes that aren’t functioning properly are more likely to engage in violent behavior. Now I’m not saying that we should incarcerate every person who has a slow heart rate, but I’m saying that we should be more actively searching for these kinds of clues/indicators in children and proceed by paying closer attention to these childs’ behavior and giving them help when needed.

Suggestion Number 3:

My third suggestion ties in with the previous sentence, which mentioned how we should be giving troubled children help when they need it most. In America, we have done a historically poor job of treating mentally ill patients. In the past, we had insane asylums which were supposed to be hospitals made specifically to treat the mentally unstable, but often worsened the patients’ symptoms because of their poor conditions. Right now, things aren’t much better, either, as we do not have enough systems set in place to help out those who are mentally insane. In many mass shooting cases, the shooter turns out to be a person who had psychological problems that were not treated or attended to. I believe that the creation of more effective, helpful systems to take care of those who are mentally ill would be a benefit to everyone, as the patients would receive the support they desperately need while the citizens would be safe from mentally unstable individuals who could very easily do something terrible because of their inability to make sound judgments.

Suggestion Number 4:

I purposely saved this proposal for last because it is likely to become one of the most controversial and if it actually becomes a reality, then the rest of this essay would be irrelevant because it would essentially put an end to all mass shootings in America. I truly believe that there is no logical reason for American citizens to have the right to have guns in their possession. Pro-gun groups use the argument that gun control wouldn’t work and that guns are necessary for people to protect themselves, but right now it is hard to believe that guns are more beneficial than they are damaging. Take a look at Australia, for example. Following a mass shooting in a place called Port Arthur, the prime minister installed strict gun control laws all across the nation. Ever since the inauguration of this system, there have been no mass shootings whatsoever in the entire country. That’s right, 0 shootings in nearly 20 years, compared to about 20 shootings in one year in America. My suggestion then, would be to get rid of all guns, because the positive effects of doing so are evident. However, I would still allow citizens to purchase weapons for self that defense that aren’t lethal, but can be of great help in a time of need, such as tasers or BB/airsoft guns. I would do this because it would be impossible to kill 20 people at a school using a taser, and those who would want to have an effective means of self defense would be able to get want they want. In this scenario, nobody would lose.

In conclusion, nobody has to listen to anything that I have to say. The nation can continue doing what it is currently doing, and people can go on living their lives without having to worry about putting in any effort to change. If you think about it, we don’t need to do anything at all, but if we do revert to this aloof and ignorant behavior, we shouldn’t be shocked when another school shooting occurs, followed by another more tragic than the one before, and so on and so forth. We don’t have to change, but we can’t expect something to change without us taking action.

Photo Credit: Keary O.

About Grace Masback

Grace Masback, 17, aspires to give voice to the voiceless and holds the modest ambition of becoming the voice of Gen Z. Frustrated by the dearth of impactful platforms for teen journalists, she founded WANT, a news, sports, and entertainment website that aggregates the best in high school journalism from school newspapers and teen bloggers around the world (www.wantnewsforteens.com).

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