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Kaylin Gillis was shot and killed last Sunday in upstate New York after she and her three friends unintentionally took a wrong turn while searching for a friend’s place. The man’s driveway they found themselves in was that of 65-year-old Kevin Monahan, who is now charged with second-degree murder. Allegedly the area Gillis was in was very rural, including dirt roads that many people could get turned around in. 

This shooting is coming off the heels of another tragic shooting of a young black boy, 16-year-old Ralph Yarl, that rang the doorbell of the wrong house trying to pick up his siblings in Kansas City, MO. The shooter was 84-year-old Andrew D. Lester, who was arrested and charged with assault in the first degree. Lester was not immediately arrested. Only after public outrage and the demand for justice was Lester, a white male, charged. 

Also, last Saturday, a mass shooting occurred in Dadeville, Alabama, where a sweet 16 birthday party was shot up, killing four victims. Along with the four deaths, 32 others were injured, including 15 other teenagers being shot. Five surviving victims who sustained bullet injuries are still in critical condition and are fighting for their lives. The victims include:

  •  A 23-year-old man named Corbin Dahmontrey Holston from Dadeville, Alabama
  •  A 19-year-old man named Marsiah Emmanuel Collins from Opelika, Alabama
  •  An 18-year-old man named Philstavious Dowdell from Camp Hill, Alabama, who is a senior at Dadeville High School
  •  A 17-year-old female named Shaunkivia (KeKe) Nicole Smith, who is also a senior at Dadeville High School

Thus far, authorities are not reporting any information or speculation on why the shooting occurred or who participated in the shooting. The shooters are still at large in Alabama, leaving residents devastated and scared. All the teenagers killed during the party were said to be bright kids with promising futures preparing to further their education.

To say gun violence is getting quickly and progressively worse in America would be an understatement. Gone are the days of playing outside until the street lights came on and being able to attend school safely without worry of being harmed by gun violence. We know why they are occurring. We understand that if our laws don’t change, mass shootings and gun violence will keep increasing, yet lawmakers are doing nothing. 

If anything, some are doubling down, such as Governor Ron DeSantis, and moving in the opposite direction that we need to be by implementing permitless carry. 

Permit-Less Carry

Florida is one step close to implementing a new gun law called “permitless carry”. NBC News explains, “The proposed legislation” would eliminate concealed weapons permits, allowing gun owners to carry firearms in the state without the previously required license and training.”. This means anyone can get a gun with little to no regulations. 

If this law passes, we can expect gun violence to go up even more, and we will experience even more mass shootings. To say this law isn’t the answer to our gun problems in America would be an understatement. This law is beyond concerning, and America needs strict gun control, not more access to guns. 

Further Issues With Florida Gun Laws

Florida’s gun laws are an excellent example of what not to do. Florida continues against gun reform and is going in the wrong direction. Here are some of Florida’s current problematic gun control laws and some concerning legislation set to be passed:

  1. Concealed Carry: Florida is a “shall-issue” state regarding concealed carry permits. The state must issue a concealed carry permit if an applicant meets the eligibility requirements. Florida also recognizes concealed carry permits from all other states.
  2. Stand Your Ground: Florida’s controversial “stand your ground” law allows individuals to use deadly force in self-defense without attempting to retreat from a threatening situation. This law has been the subject of much debate and criticism, particularly in the wake of high-profile cases where it has been invoked.
  3. Assault Weapons Ban: Florida does not currently have an assault weapons ban. However, following the Parkland school shooting in 2018, there were renewed calls for such a ban, and the state has proposed several new gun laws, including a ban on assault weapons.
  4. Background Checks: In Florida, licensed firearm dealers must conduct background checks on individuals who wish to purchase firearms. However, private sellers are not required to conduct background checks, which has been a subject of much debate in recent years.
  5. Waiting Periods: Florida does not have a waiting period for firearm purchases. However, there have been proposals to implement such a waiting period after recent mass shootings.
  6. Open Carry: Open carry of firearms is generally prohibited in Florida, although there are some exceptions for individuals engaged in certain activities, such as hunting or fishing.
  7. Mental health: Florida claims that individuals involuntarily committed to a mental institution or deemed mentally incompetent by a court are prohibited from owning firearms. It has been found that this particular regulation has not been carried out. No database allows for “red flags” like the state claims. Someone who has been institutionalized can get a gun. 

Gun violence in the United States is a pervasive and complicated issue that has been the subject of intense debate for decades. Each year, tens of thousands of Americans are killed or injured by firearms, leaving a trail of heartbreak, trauma, and devastation. 

Gun Violence Quick Facts

Here are some gun violence statistics and facts from the United States that should help readers understand just how big an issue gun violence is:

  • The United States has the highest gun ownership rate in the world, with an estimated 120.5 guns per 100 residents.
  • In 2019, there were a total of 39,707 deaths by firearms in the United States.
  • Between 2010 and 2019, there were 114 mass shootings in the United States, resulting in 934 deaths and 1,422 injuries.
  • Gun violence is a leading cause of death for children and teens in the United States, with an average of 8 children and teens killed by guns daily.
  • In 2019, there were 24,090 deaths by suicide involving firearms in the United States.
  • Black Americans are disproportionately affected by gun violence, with a rate of gun homicide ten times higher than that of white Americans.
  • In 2020, there was a surge in gun sales in the United States, with an estimated 23 million guns sold, representing a 64% increase from the previous year.
  • In 2019, there were 417 mass shootings in the United States, defined as an incident in which four or more people were shot, not including the shooter.
  • The United States has more guns than people, with an estimated 393 million guns circulating in 2021.
  • Despite accounting for just 4% of the global population, the United States is responsible for nearly half of all civilian-owned guns worldwide.

These statistics and facts illustrate the scale and severity of the gun violence problem in the United States and the urgent need for solutions to address it.

The Causes of Gun Violence

Gun violence in the United States is caused by social, cultural, economic, political, and legal factors. We already know most of this information, and at this point, it feels like we are broken records. Regardless, here are some of the most common causes of gun violence include:

  • Mental Illness: Many shooters have a history of mental illness, and research suggests that individuals with mental health disorders are more likely to commit violent acts than those without.
  • Easy Access to Guns: In the United States, guns are relatively easy to obtain, and few restrictions exist on who can purchase them. This makes it easy for criminals and other dangerous individuals to get their hands on firearms.
  • Poverty and Social Inequality: Areas with high levels of poverty and social inequality tend to have higher rates of gun violence. This is often due to the prevalence of gang activity and other forms of criminal behavior.
  • Domestic Violence: Domestic violence is a leading cause of gun violence in the United States. Abusive partners may use firearms to control and intimidate their victims, leading to tragic consequences.

The Consequences of Gun Violence

The consequences of gun violence in the United States are far-reaching and devastating. Each year, thousands of Americans are killed or injured by firearms, leaving families and communities shattered. Some of the most significant consequences of gun violence include:

  • Death and Injury: Gun violence is responsible for tens of thousands of deaths and injuries each year. Victims of gun violence may suffer from physical injuries, such as gunshot wounds, and emotional trauma that can last a lifetime.
  • Economic Costs: The economic costs of gun violence are staggering. Each year, the United States spends billions of dollars on medical expenses, lost productivity, and other costs associated with gun violence.
  • Fear and Trauma: Gun violence can leave lasting psychological scars on victims, their families, and entire communities. The fear and trauma caused by gun violence can have long-lasting effects on mental health and well-being.

Some Solutions to Gun Violence

There is no simple solution to the problem of gun violence in the United States. However, several steps can be taken to reduce the incidence of gun violence and keep communities safe. Some of the most promising solutions to gun violence include:

  • Strengthening Gun Laws: First and foremost, America must strengthen gun laws and have major gun reforms. The United States has relatively lax gun laws compared to other developed countries. Strengthening gun laws, such as implementing background checks and limiting access to firearms for those with a history of mental illness, could help reduce gun violence significantly. Most of us pleading for gun reform doesn’t even mean the complete eradication of guns, as many pro-gun enthusiasts believe. At this point, that would be impossible. And stricter gun laws need to be implemented to stop mass shootings and unnecessary killings. It is the only way!
  • Investing in Mental Health Services: Providing better access to mental health services could help identify and treat individuals at risk of committing violent acts.
  • Addressing Poverty and Social Inequality: Addressing poverty and social inequality could help reduce gun violence by addressing the underlying causes of crime and violence.
  • Supporting Victims of Domestic Violence: Providing support and resources for victims of domestic violence could help reduce the incidence of gun violence in the home.

By addressing the root causes of gun violence, investing in mental health services, strengthening gun laws, and providing support for victims of domestic violence, we can work together to reduce the incidence of gun violence and create safer communities for all.

Guns ARE the Problem

The United States experiences a disproportionate number of mass shootings compared to other developed countries, and many believe that the prevalence of guns is a significant contributing factor. While the Second Amendment guarantees the right to bear arms, the ease with which individuals can obtain firearms and the lack of adequate regulation have led to a culture of gun ownership and a high incidence of gun violence.

One of the most significant issues with the availability of guns in America is the ease with which individuals who should not have access can obtain them. This includes individuals with a history of domestic violence, those with a history of mental illness, and convicted felons. While federal law prohibits these individuals from owning guns, numerous loopholes and gaps in the system allow them to obtain firearms anyway.

Another factor contributing to the problem is the lack of adequate regulation of firearms. While some federal laws are in place, they are often not enforced or are subject to interpretation, making it challenging to ensure that individuals who should not have access to guns cannot obtain them.

There is also a cultural issue, as the widespread availability of guns and the belief in the right to bear arms have led to a normalization of gun ownership and violence. Many individuals in America view guns as a symbol of freedom and self-reliance, and any attempt to regulate them is often seen as an infringement on individual rights.

It is essential to recognize that the costs of this culture of gun ownership are high. Mass shootings and other forms of gun violence have become all too common, leaving a trail of devastation and trauma in their wake. The victims of gun violence are often innocent bystanders, including children, students, and community members.

Given the high incidence of gun violence in America, it is essential to implement gun reform now. This could include measures such as requiring universal background checks, closing loopholes that allow individuals to obtain guns without a background check, banning assault weapons, and limiting the number of firearms that an individual can purchase. These reforms would help ensure that guns are kept out of the hands of individuals who should not have them while still protecting the rights of law-abiding citizens to own firearms.

It is imperative and necessary to implement comprehensive gun reform now to ensure that guns are kept out of the hands of individuals who should not have them and to create safer communities for all.

Social Contagion Theory-Why We Can Expect More Shootings

The APA Dictionary of Psychology defines Social Contagion as “the spread of behaviors, attitudes, and affect through crowds and other social aggregates from one member to another.” Unfortunately, when a mass killing occurs, our society can expect more…especially if it is a vast mass killing with lots of media attention. It is not necessarily the media, the news, or the act to blame. Instead, these acts can trigger or encourage someone thinking of doing something similar. 

Perhaps that individual thought process is not specifically about killing someone; it could be revenge or contemplating how to get back at someone. These mass killings can plant a seed in someone’s troubled mind causing the act to make sense to them and, therefore, inadvertently encouraging them to perform a similar act of violence. Even the amount of media coverage of the suspect can be alluring to someone with similar thoughts. 

Media coverage can seem attractive when someone is desperate to be heard. There is a sense of notoriety regarding why people choose to mass kill. There is not one specific reason we see a chain reaction effect in our society, and we know that this phenomenon is occurring. So until reform happens, we can expect more mass shootings and senseless killings to occur. 

Insanity 

How many unnecessary deaths will it take for lawmakers to finally make a change and implement gun reform? We are reporting on more and more firearm deaths and gun violence, and nothing is changing. We know the “whys” of mass shootings and understand that access to guns is the problem. At this point, it is just insanity; America is doing the same thing over and over, expecting different results. Those results will never change; we will see more shootings and deaths unless gun laws change. 

 

Ralph Yarl GoFundMe

If you are interested in contributing to Ralph’s GoFundMe, you can click the link here to donate.

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About The Author

Julie Johansson

Educated in Criminal Justice and a true crime junkie. Former mall cop, fur mom and women's rights advocate. I am trying to engage in more important topics and writing is how I connect with my community and the world.