A friend texted me yesterday and asked what’s wrong with America? She wondered if we are more “f’ed up” than other countries because of our lax gun laws.
2018 statistics: 307 mass shootings. 328 people died. 1,251 injured.
Why does America have so many mass shootings?
I read this informative article in the New York Times today. Their take is that only “4% of American gun deaths could be attributed to mental health issues. And, countries with high suicide rates tend to have low rates of mass shootings.” Racial diversity and immigration also have little to do with gun deaths. The article quoted a professor (Adam Lankford from the University of Alabama), who said that a “country’s rate of gun ownership correlated with the odds it would experience a mass shooting.” But why are we so violent?
Does it have to do with loneliness? Feeling unseen? Do people feel like they’re not part of something? Do they feel like they’d like to take their own lives — and then decide everyone nearby is going down with the ship? Is there so much hatred for a group (Jews in Pittsburgh) that someone feels they must cease? How about the Parkland shooting or the recent Thousand Oaks shooting, which hits close to home, as I used to live there? Did the murderers think this was the best or only choice? To bring guns to seemingly safe places like a high school or a country bar and direct fire at people who are learning or dancing?
We are living in a terrifying time of insecurity and fear. What can we do?
Is love going to help? What does it even mean when people say to “love more” or “hold our loved ones tight?” Is that implication that something bad is going to happen and we want to keep our people nearby as long as possible? (Of course we don’t want death.) Can you truly tell me how to do that?
I’m thinking of the shooters and people who feel so stuck that they think creating a mass shooting is the best option. Were they not hugged enough as children? Was it war or other trauma that turned them into people who thought this was viable? How do we reach them and let them know there is community for them to join?
I’m a peaceful person who listens, sees clients and gives people my care and attention. I do not own a gun. It’s been suggested over the years that I should arm myself and keep a gun at home, but I’ve always declined. Theoretically, I don’t think owning a gun or two is inherently wrong or bad. I think using it for the reasons we’ve experienced so many times in this country in 2008 alone is the problem. I wish these shooters could have used their voices to express dissent rather than their guns to hurt so many people.
So, what are we going to do? I’m thinking about this non-stop and I hope you are too. How can you connect with someone today and show them care or humility? What if we treat each other more gently and encourage connection rather than separation?
Please make an effort to include another person by giving eye contact, a smile or doing a small gesture to connect. Maybe this will help. We have nothing to lose.