I am sure you are as concerned and shocked as I am when we hear these mass shooting stories that are becoming so prevalent at stores, in schools, in churches, in universities, in city neighborhoods and recently at the Cielo Vista Mall in El Paso, Texas. So many citizens find themselves going about their normal life activities when shots ring out that are horrifying as these shooters seem to randomly wound and kill innocent lives. It is terrifying and leaves us all on edge.
According to the Gun Violence Archive there have been 70 mass shootings in 2023 already. That is more than one per day in a country that we would like to believe is safe. A mass shooting is defined by GVA as a shooting that injured or killed four or more people, not including the shooter. Simple math tells us that there have already been at least 280 individuals shot that were either wounded or killed by gun violence. This does not include shootings where there were less than 4 individuals that were fired on.
Law enforcements officials are more than overwhelmed by these shootings. Communities are stunned and have very few answers as to how to prevent these tragic incidences. In many ways this has traumatized our nation and created a level of anxiety and fear that is quickly triggered by a loud pop or a noise that mimics gunshots.
As much as gun controls are talked about, we already possess more guns than any country in the world per capita. I am not sure that solution will slow down the mass shooting issue. That is not in any way a reason not to require background checks and put some commonsense controls on gun purchases.
However, what we do know is that individuals who shoot people in mass are living in some level of distress or a mental health crisis. Usually, in either their social media or through relationships with significant others we see signals that they are dysregulated and working through their own fear and tragic perceptions of what is going on around them. Fear, paranoia, anger, severe anxiety, depression, addictions and other extreme perceptions often accompany their violent tendencies. Their personal stories are usually filled with their own trauma with a propensity for this kind of violence that is extremely pathological and destructive.
Once again we need to be aware, alert and involved with these shooter types before they get to the stage where they feel compelled to act out with such violence. It means that any of us who are aware of such an individual will raise a flag of concern, get them help, notify authorities and prevent these outbreaks of mass shootings.
We also need more mental health programs in our communities so they could have a place to go for help when they are identified by friends or family members. Individuals who are emotionally and relationally healthy typically do not go on a mass shooting tirade. We all need to be vigilant to seek help when we encounter individuals who are struggling with extreme emotions that may lead to a violent outcome in our communities.