Mass killings, Gun and Social Needs

On October 1st, 2015, shooting occured at the Umpqua Community College located in Roseburg, Oregan. This shooting led to 10 deaths and seven injured people. This forces the American people to face yet another mass shooting.

The shooter asked people whether they are Christian, and then shot them in a classroom. Victims included both students and teachers.

It’s reported that the shooter had a mental illness, and was sexually frustrated. The gun used in the shooting was a birthday present from his mother. The media also reported that he suffered from an unhappy childhood. These are all factors that combined in order to result in this tragedy.

294 mass killings in 274 days

There have been 353 mass killings this year, according to Christopher Ingraham, who previously worked at the Brookings Institution and the Pew Research Center.

Although only about 1% of all murders nationally came from mass murder, they still happen frequently, especially in recent years. USA Today did a research with examined FBI data to tell the untold story of America’s mass killing.

Since 2006, there have been more than 200 mass killings in the United States. Generally, mass murder was described as a number of murders (four or more) occurring during the same incident, with no distinctive time period between the murders. These events typically involved a single location, where the killer murdered a number of victims in an ongoing incident.

The FBI counted 172 cases of mass killings between 2006 and 2011. That does not include some large states such as Florida, for example. Poor reporting by police agencies to the FBI also means some mass killings were left out, while others that don’t meet the standard were included. However, FBI’s data just covered 57% of these mass killings because of the criminal data from police department. USA Today made a chart of all the mass killings verified by USA Today, including cases without reporting from FBI.

Public killings only accounts for 15%

Nearly one-third of victims were under the age of 18. According to a report from the Center of Disease Control, homicide is the second leading cause of death among youth aged from 5 to 18. Data from this study indicated that between 1% and 2% of these deaths happen on school grounds or on the way to and from school. These findings underscore the importance of preventing violence at school as well as in communities.

However, the majority of mass killings are family killings, which account for 53%. Family killings can be caused by factors, such as breakups, financial stress or even impulse.

“The media have extended coverage with public killings,” said Dr. Michael Ryan, Assistant Professor of Criminal Justice and Sociology.

“People feel the risk, because they have children and families in the school. Concerning public places, for example the theater, everyone goes there.” However, they seldom notice the potential risk from their household and people they know.

Mother Jones, a leading independent news organization, created a map about geographically distribution of mass killings, Dr. Ryan noticed that some of the killings happened near the similar locations. Such as the Umpqua shooting and the previous case happened in Thurston High School located in Springfield, which is one-hour drive from Umpqua.

77% of mass killings involve a gun

From the research from Mother Jones, it’s reported that in 49 cases, among 62 in total, in US from 1982-2012, killers obtained their weapons legally, and most of these weapons are semiautomatic handguns. These data has led to a debates over gun control.

The Washington Post listed nine facts about guns and mass killing.

“Lots of guns don't necessarily mean lots of shootings, as you can see in Israel and Switzerland”, however, “of the 11 deadliest shootings in the US, five have happened from 2007 onward.

This means that gun abuse in America has become severe in recent years. The Harvard Injury Control Research Center assessed the literature on guns and homicide and found that there's substantial evidence that indicates that more guns mean more murders. On the other hand, data shows that the states with stricter gun control laws have fewer deaths from gun-related violence.

Gun ownership in United States is declining overall.

A CNN/ORC poll asked respondents whether they favor or oppose a number of specific policies to restrict gun ownership.

Most people support stricter background checks and bans on guns for felons and the mentally-ill. However, around 90% of people do not support prohibition on guns. Data from the Pew Resesarch Center shows a small difference between before and after the shootings in Aurora, Colorado, Tucson, Arizona, and Virginia Tech. Therefore, this research pointed out that shootings do not shift views on gun control.

Gun control is a controversial but not popular topic in political policies. Republicans support gun ownerships and Democrats support gun control.

“The National Rifle Association put money on commercials and political campaigns and legislature to influence the candidates and audience,” said Dr. Ryan.

Meet the social needs

Although public killings only account for 15%, it is still a social problem that needs to be solved today.

Some shooters choose the places and people they are associated frequently for their hatred. They wanted to make some point by what they did.

“This could happen everywhere, even though there is very little chance that it will,” Dr. Ryan said.

“I really appreciate that they focus on the victims instead of shooter in this case.” Dr. Ryan said. “The Media usually choses to report more information on victims lost in this tragedy. For example, New York Times wrote a story titled ‘A Snapshot of Students Lost: Young and Old, but All Striving’.”

“People who have mental illness should be treated and be helped to find a job,” said Dr. Ryan, “Social structures need to be cared, such as family and community.” For example, centers for caring children and seniors should be established. "So that life will be easier for them to maintain control."

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