If you know me, you know I can’t help but doomscroll. I can’t help it; as somebody who loves the news, it’s my nature. Unfortunately, the information isn’t usually cheerful, but quite horrible — hence, the doomscrolling.
However, I haven’t been doomscrolling about the horrific mass shooting in Uvalde, Texas. I couldn’t do that to myself. Nineteen students and two teachers were murdered in cold blood. Seventeen more were injured. It was the third deadliest mass shooting in American history. And when I read just one article about the incompetence of the police on the scene, I decided that was enough. I didn’t want to know more. Perhaps that’s ignorance on my part, but I know what I can and cannot handle, and I can’t handle children being gunned down at a place they should always feel safe — at their place of education. It devastates me. It makes me wonder how this could happen again — scratch that. I don’t wonder how this can happen again. I know several reasons why it happens again and again and again. One of these is access to guns.
I’m not suggesting we do away with the Constitution’s Second Amendment. Many responsible people I know own guns for protection or hunting. They do not carry them in public and certainly wouldn’t use them for a mass shooting. However, they don’t own AR-15s. Because they absolutely don’t need them. Nobody needs an AR-15 for protection or even hunting. Though I am not a hunter myself, I asked hunters for their opinion, and I was told the best weapon was a simple rifle, shotgun, or even a bow and arrow, depending on what you’re hunting. One hunter specifically told me that AR-15s are “NOT a hunting weapon unless you include people. The rounds (or bullets) would tear your prey apart. A REAL hunter is after the food without [damaging] the meat or metal all [through] it. Anyone that says [differently] is being dishonest.”
And once again, the focus is turned to mental illness, which may be a grave mistake. First, it’s important to note that less than 10% of suspects who commit shootings have mental illnesses. Not only did this shooter show no signs of mental illness, but those who do have mental illness and will not commit heinous crimes like this cannot be differentiated from those who are not going to commit mass shootings. According to Dr. Ziv Cohen, those who commit mass shootings often show the same symptoms as many others who show signs of mental illness — “depression, isolation from family and classmates, narcissism, paranoia, and suspicion.” We absolutely can’t put a stigma on every person who experiences these symptoms as they are widespread. “If you’re looking at a group of people with those mental health issues, it’s almost impossible to pick out the one that’s actually going to commit a mass shooting,” Cohen said. “This is why we haven’t really found a solution.”
And while mental health solutions can help prevent suicide, an article published last year in the Harvard Review of Psychiatry says that “there is no existing or forthcoming unified theory of impaired brain functioning or of cognitive, mood, or behavioral dysregulation that could adequately explain mass shootings or multiple-victim gun homicides.” This means there is no treatment plan to prevent mass shootings. We also must acknowledge that mass shooters often lie about their intentions to kill, meaning no mental health expert could help them even if we theoretically could pinpoint those willing to commit mass murders.
Jill Cook, the Executive Director of the American School Counselor Association believes that “to equate this solely to mental health is a misstep and a deflection” from the idea that gun control plays a crucial role in prevention. “Mental health is not going to take us all the way there,” Cohen said. “The mental health community cannot solve the problem of gun violence in America.”
It’s also important to acknowledge that even if this individual sought mental health, Texas is 51st in mental health access after all 50 states and Washington DC. That could be why Greg Abbott was booed when visiting Uvalde.
Biden, however, who wants common-sense gun reform, was cheered.
However, the best comments belong to Steve Kerr, head coach of the Golden State Warriors.
Uvalde is also Matthew McConaughey’s hometown, and he had some poignant words to share.
Republicans, however, are sharing their typical thoughts and prayers. The ones they shared after Sandy Hook. After the Pulse nightclub. After Las Vegas. After Buffalo. After Virginia Tech. After Aurora. And more.
It’s almost as if thoughts and prayers don’t work.