Mass Shootings

Mass Shootings

Mass shootings have become a major problem in the United States and have prevailed for in recent years leading to the destruction of lives. According to the FBI, a “mass” shooting is one in which four or more people are shot — or shot at — regardless of how many of these are fatal (Fox & Levin, 2015).  According to the Center for Disease Control (the expert on health problems in the U.S.), 90% of all gunshot victims survive, 80% with no permanent debilitating injuries.  Likewise, according to the FBI, there were 356 “mass shootings” in the U.S. in 2015, the vast majority of them in urban “bad” neighbourhoods, usually the results of gang wars (Gonzalez-Guaarda et al., 2018).  Mass shootings at schools were very rare.

The image of America as plagued with constant mass shootings in schools is entirely the invention of the media, which have a vested interest — political and financial — in exaggerating stories of violence and shock-value.  There aren’t that many mass-shootings in the U.S., especially when you consider that the U.S. has the third-highest population in the world (315 million), and our total homicide-rate is the 107th highest in the world (WHO figures) (Joslyn, & Haider‐Markel, 2017).

Three things have led to a single mass shooting, and there is one additional item needed for many mass shootings. For a single mass shooting the main causes include mental illness, locations where a sizable number of people congregate, and relatively easy access to automatic or semi-automatic guns (Knoll, James & Annas, 2016). Theses can never disappear from our society, and it is unlikely that access to illegal firearms will change as the United States would need a constitutional amendment or a Supreme Court ruling with a different interpretation of the Second Amendment (Meindl & Ivy, 2017). As a result, there will always be a risk of a single mass shooting.
However, there is a fourth distinct factor that has led to the proliferation of mass shootings over the last 20 years is the media. Although it may seem trite to blame the media once again for a societal ill, in this case, the media and it’s insatiable 24/7 news cycle have caused the “many” mass shootings that have occurred in the U.S. (McGinty, Webster & Barry, 2013) and perhaps the world. A mass shooting would inevitably occur at some point in our history. Thanks to the media’s non-stop nationwide coverage of a given mass shooting (Columbine, for example), they firmly implant and glorify the idea in the heads of many mentally disturbed people throughout the U.S. Historically, these mentally unbalanced people would have hated life and killed themselves. Limiting the tragedy to a single individual (Almeida, 2016). However, the media has now shown them a “more satisfying” way to leave this world. Unfortunately, there is nothing that can be done since the media has already propagated this mass killing idea throughout society. However, the media makes it worse every time they incessantly cover these incidents (Aurora, CO), since they give renewed life to this concept and reenergize a base of sickos (Cohen, Azrael & Miller, 2014). So it will not be long until the next mass shooting

Another issue is the issue of Gun-Free Zones.  Richard Mack, a former Arizona Sheriff, called them “Helpless Victim Zones.”  Criminals may be mentally unstable and may have skewed ideas about right and wrong. Still, they know one thing: to kill the largest number of people in the shortest amount of time before going to a place where there is guaranteed to be no resistance: a Gun-Free Zone (Krouse & Richardson, 2015).  Gun-Free Zones have been universally denounced as not affect stopping mass shootings.  FBI data clearly shows that in the largest percentage of cases, it is only a gun that stops mass shooters (Lankford & Madfis, 2018). These are just some of the reasons that mass shootings occur, but most of the reason is because of well-intentioned people who have made some very poor choices that have created a perfect storm for the mentally ill to kill lots of people in a small period.

















Fox, J. A., & Levin, J. (2015). Mass confusion concerning mass murder. The Criminologist40(1), 8-11.

Gonzalez-Guarda, R. M., Dowdell, E. B., Marino, M. A., Anderson, J. C., & Laughon, K. (2018). American Academy of Nursing on policy: Recommendations in response to mass shootings. Nursing Outlook66(3), 333-336.

Joslyn, M. R., & Haider‐Markel, D. P. (2017). Gun Ownership and Self‐Serving Attributions for Mass Shooting Tragedies. Social Science Quarterly98(2), 429-442.

Knoll, I. V., James, L., & Annas, G. D. (2016). Mass shootings and mental illness.

McGinty, E. E., Webster, D. W., & Barry, C. L. (2013). Effects of news media messages about mass shootings on attitudes toward persons with serious mental illness and public support for gun control policies. American Journal of Psychiatry170(5), 494-501.

Almeida, P. D. (2016). The role of threats in popular mobilization in Central America. In Social Movement Dynamics (pp. 115-136). Routledge.

Cohen, A.P., Azrael, D., & Miller, M. (2014, October 15). Rate of mass shootings has tripled since 2011, Harvard research shows. Retrieved from

Krouse, W. J., & Richardson, D. J. (2015). Mass murder with firearms: Incidents and victims, 1999-2013.

Lankford, A., & Madfis, E. (2018). Do not name them, don’t show them, but report everything else: A pragmatic proposal for denying mass killers the attention they seek and deterring future offenders. American behavioural scientist62(2), 260-279.

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