Thoughts about mass shootings

Published 9:04 pm Friday, June 17, 2022

To the Editor:

As tempting and satisfying as it is to think in terms of a single solution to a complex problem, emerging research indicates how inadequate that would be with regards to mass shootings.

Since the Uvalde, Texas, assault, results of research into mass shooters have hit network news. The information that stood out to me was:

  • Mass shootings are nearly all murder-suicides.
  • The shooter has experienced some kind of trauma previously.
  • There is a program aimed at identification of, and appropriate intervention for, someone who is meeting/exhibiting markers for future escalation.

Less talked about, although some people are just beginning to say out loud, “mass shooters are overwhelmingly male.” It has been my observation that mass shooters are overwhelmingly white male. I wonder, How we failed these people?

On the other side, “It would seem to me that other than waging war, there is no earthly reason for an ‘ordinary citizen’ to have an assault-style weapon.” I struggle with the idea that it is OK for an 18- or 19-year-old to buy weapons when it will take another six or seven years, on average, for their brains to be fully developed. One of the last things to come fully online is the ability to avoid impulsive behavior for a more reasoned approach.

Since mental health services have been routinely curtailed starting in the early 1980s, it will take an investment to bring it back. (The move to free up counselors by hiring testing coordinators would seem a step in the right direction.) The alternative seems much more costly: the continuing increase of mass shootings.

I’m thinking that addressing the precursors to these “murder-suicides” as well as “common sense gun control” (increased background checks, raising the minimum age for gun purchase, red flag laws, and curtailment of the availability of assault weapons) that most Americans apparently support, would be a prudent way to move forward.

Jo Weaver

Zuni