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Mass shootings have unfortunately become a tragic, but normalized part of our society. Although mass shootings only make up a small portion of the total gun crimes in this country, they only continue to rise in numbers with each attack becoming more brutal than the last. We are all completely aware of the pain that these tragedies can bring to our communities, and yet, they continue to happen. The stories pass through the news channels so quickly, replaced with the new horror story while the last fades away into a bad memory for our country. There are no opportunities for new reform from our legislators, despite the constant push from the citizens that want change. These attacks of terrorism have become something that we simply acknowledge, move on from, and wait for the next inevitable occurrence.
Although people will continue to practice evil and violent crimes will still frequently occur in our country, there is always the opportunity for positive growth. There have been countless possible solutions for this massive problem, many of them including a greater focus on mental health or stricter gun reform. I have many strong opinions on these solutions (which I will save you all from hearing 😉), but I do want to explore one issue that I think greatly influences the frequency of these events happening: The idolization and strong focus on the shooters themselves.
Mass shooters are monsters, plain and simple. I do understand that they are human; that they feel anguish and frustration. However, they are not the product of a corrupt system or failed parents or an uncontrollable mental illness. They carry evil within themselves and commit these senseless attacks with little to no thought on the impact that their decision will have on so many lives. There are no excuses for these actions and there should be no empathy for their motive or inward struggles. I know that there is a strange fascination to understand the mess inside of their heads, but when we turn all of our attention to them and the negativity that surrounds them, we miss out on the opportunity for a stronger push towards reform and the chance to remember and honor the victims who died at the hands of a monster.
The biggest problem with showcasing these perpetrators is the effect it leaves on future generations. These “copycat killers” are found mainly in groups of people that are isolated and struggling. They idolize mass shooters that have come before them and feel like they can relate to them in many senses. In many cases, these people either want to gain a spot in this negative spotlight alongside their idols or they feel that violent action is the only solution to their problems.
I read an interesting investigation done by ABC News from 2014 that found that 14 years after the Columbine shootings, there were at least 17 school shooters, and 36 other people who threatened to, and all cited Columbine and the two perpetrators as some of the motives for their actions. This trend will only continue to get worse as the monsters from Parkland or Colorado or Las Vegas continue to become household names, and the significance of the devastation is placed behind them and their newfound fame.
Although this is one small solution, it could greatly impact how these shootings occur in the future. The media can continue to provide timely and factual stories, exactly as their job requires. They can show eyewitness accounts, statements from law enforcements, found evidence, etc. There are so many intricate parts to tragedies like these that should be examined and take the main stage for viewers to see. These perpetrators can still be named and discussed, but there is absolutely no need to sit and dwell on their lives and struggles. We should instead be turning our attention as a country to the first responders and law enforcement that give their assistance and the victims themselves. They should be the push for more activism and a greater stride towards a world with less violence.