With our most recent Fourth of July celebration marred by another tragic mass shooting in the suburbs of Chicago, it seems that these assaults on our psyche and our communities are becoming an almost weekly occurrence in America. And yet, as we also learned later about the primary shooter suspect in custody, he apparently purchased his firearms legally, with even more in his vehicle and at home, in a state and city with some of the most stringent gun laws in the nation. Chicago also suffers from the nation’s highest homicide rate, though that inner-city and often black-on-black crime receives scant national media attention or focus.
Yes, America has a gun problem, but it also appears to have a problem with apparently isolated and potentially sociopathic, young white men. These young men often appear to live on a daily diet of Fort Nite, Mortal Combat, Doom, and pornography - on their mobile phones, PCs, and tablets. Those first three are online role-playing video games, I’ll leave it to you to figure out their use for the fourth and how this fits into that.
There have been psychological studies of some size for more than 20 years now indicating that games of this nature increase aggression and downplay the actual impacts of real acts of violence and sexual aggression.
And yet, as a society, we almost never discuss those issues or related concerns of the many mental health challenges among adolescents and young adults. In the case of the Chicagoland shootings, the gunmen had apparently multiple warning signs, including suicide attempts and threats to kill members of his own family, for three years running, and yet, no real preventative actions were taken.
Though this gun violence and mental health crisis IS about more than access to firearms, I do think it is past time for some additional common-sense reforms –
- Universal registration
- Required training for owning high caliber and capacity weapons
- Additional regulation on the ownership of automatic assault-style weapons
- CLOSE the Gun Show and family gift gun ownership loophole
- Background checks and a national database
- Red Flag laws, with some limits on how law enforcement or local governments may tag/label someone as ‘at risk’ to the harm of themselves or others
The most recent federal law signed by President Joe Biden, does address some mental health funding and allows access by law enforcement officials to Juvenile Offense records of shooters and potential shooters for review, hopefully, allowing action to be taken PRIOR to additional shootings.
Outlawing existing weapons or any type of confiscation program will mean that ONLY THOSE who are willing and able to break the law or harm others will still have guns. I know all too well that our local police and Sheriff deputies are almost daily out-gunned and out-manned. While they carry a service revolver, the local gang member more likely has an AK-47 under the seat bench of their car, or in their trunk.
The firepower match is not even close. While we need to do more on guns, we also need to do more to raise awareness and pay attention to what our sons are doing online, on social media, in their browser history as well as on their phones. We need more active parenting, as well as Red Flag laws, with limitations on illegal search and seizures, to allow educators, family members, neighbors, and the authorities to more ably identify potential predators and to find them treatment or if necessary, place them in custody and prevent them from harming others so indiscriminately.
In a cyber world where life is almost meaningless and you can actually win game points online for killing a cop, what lessons do we expect our young men to be learning? We need to pull out some hoses and cool off some of the heat in many of those games, which in my mind are almost as dangerous as the weapons some of those more fragile minds may later come to possess.
With music and gangsta culture considered cool, reinforced by online gaming which glorifies violence and sexual aggression, minimizing the impacts of both and as well as the ongoing media focus giving visibility and fame to the shooters…it will take much more than making it much more difficult for law-abiding citizens to purchase firearms of any kind, to put a muzzle on this growing crisis. Open your eyes, as well as open your minds…before you find yourself or someone you care about next in the line of fire.
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