While our congress was debating whether or not America should keep an innocent social media app, TikTok, yet another senseless mass shooting occurred on Monday, March 27, 2023, at The Covenant School, a Presbyterian private school in Nashville, Tennessee. Seven people were killed, including three children, three staff members, and the gunman. The list of victims includes;
- Evelyn Dieckhaus-9 years old
- Hallie Scruggs-9 years old
- William Kinney-9 years old
- Cynthia Peak-61 years old
- Katherine Koonce-61 years old Covenant’s head of school
- Mike Hill-Janitor
- Audrey Hale-28 year old shooter was killed by police
What we Know About Audrey Hale
Hale sent text messages to a former basketball friend, informing them that she would take her own life and that the friend would probably hear about the incident on the news. The friend did not probe into Hale’s actual plans but offered their support to Hale.
According to police Hale has this shooting planned out in several writings that are still being investigated. The people that Hale shot and killed now have been concluded to be shot at random. Hale entered the school by shooting through a door with two assault rifles and one firearm that were allegedly obtained legally. Police have explained that Hale had a broader attack planned on multiple locations, but police gunned down Hale just 14 minutes after entering the school and taking the lives of sex innocent people.
It is speculated that Hale may have been transgender. Whether they were or not it is not something to focus on. Female shooters are rare, and the transgender community is under attack as is. This does NOT make transgender people a particular threat. Remember that most shooters are male and do not get the same stigma as Hale might soon to receive.
An NPR article explains that 98% of all active shooters are male. It is no secret that almost all active shooters are men. The New York Times explains that none of the K-12 mass shootings have involved a woman. So if the conversation begins to target transgender people being a threat, let me remind you that only 2% of all mass shootings are people other than men.
The Ripple Effect From a Mass Shooting
A mass shooting is a tragic event that can have many consequences for individuals, families, communities, and society. There is a ripple effect that occurs after each tragic mass shooting. As America is experiencing more and more, bigger ripple effects cause devastating consequences to communities and people. After mass shootings, more lives are changed forever, not just the gunman or the people hurt or killed. Here are some potential consequences that can occur after a mass shooting:
- Death:The most immediate and devastating consequence of a mass shooting is the loss of life. These events can result in multiple fatalities and leave families and loved ones mourning the loss of their loved ones.
- Physical injuries:Survivors of a mass shooting can suffer from physical injuries ranging from minor to life-threatening. These injuries can leave survivors with long-lasting physical disabilities and emotional trauma. The ripple effect of this is it can also change the family system. A shooting victim may need long-term care, which impacts their family and caregivers. This can cause on-going psychological trauma to the victim and those close to them.
- Economic impact:Mass shootings can have an economic impact on affected communities. Businesses in the area may close temporarily or permanently, leading to job losses and financial insecurity for workers and their families.
- Disruption to Education:A mass shooting at a school or university can disrupt the education of students and faculty members. Instead of students going to school to learn, they are now faced with the reality of the great possibility of experiencing a mass shooting and possibly being killed. Kids should only be worrying about grades, final exams, and being kids. Schools may be closed temporarily, and students may struggle to focus on their studies after the tragedy. A school mass shooting can cause PTSD to students, teachers, and families, causing people to be fearful of returning to school. Many families have decided not to return to school because of the number of mass shootings in America. We are seeing a shift in our educational system due to fear of safety. Schools should be safe places for students to learn and grow. Not be a place of fear and a possible target of mass shootings.
- Damage to Property:Mass shootings can also significantly damage property, including buildings and infrastructure. This damage can be costly to repair and leaves communities struggling to recover.
- Mental Health Issues and PTSD:Mass shootings can leave people feeling unsafe and vulnerable. Communities may experience increased fear and anxiety, leading to changes in behavior, such as avoiding public places or events. An entire community can be changed in an instant after a mass shooting. People who were once mentally sound may find themselves struggling with mental health and developing mental health disorders. A mass shooting can impact the entire community, not just the people directly involved. This then can therefore change the trajectory of those people’s lives forever, therefore, impacting their personal relationships and affecting even more people.
- Political and Social Impact:Mass shootings can have political and social consequences, such as increased public debate about gun control laws, changes in policy and legislation, and shifts in public opinion. Whereas we need policy changes, we are going in the wrong direction, causing major discourse, anger, and distrust among Americans. We are fed up of children and people dying unnecessarily while our government is debating whether they should delete a social media app.
- Stigmatization:In some cases, certain groups may be stigmatized or unfairly targeted after a mass shooting. This can lead to discrimination and further marginalization of already vulnerable communities.
- Long-Term Effects:The effects of a mass shooting can be long-lasting and may persist for years or even decades. Survivors and families of victims may continue to experience emotional and psychological trauma, and communities may struggle to rebuild and recover.
The consequences of a mass shooting can be far-reaching and devastating. It is imperative for individuals, communities, and policymakers to take action to prevent these tragedies from occurring and to support those affected by them.
Social Contagion Theory-We Can Expect More Mass 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 who is having similar thoughts.
When someone is desperate to be heard, having that amount of media coverage can seem attractive to them. There is a sense of notoriety when it comes to why people choose to mass kill. The United States is known for glamorizing true crime, and serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer would even receive love letters while in jail for murdering multiple people, cannibalism, and many other heinous crimes.
Dahmer is not someone the average person would think to idolize or write to. This is the culture that has been created. There is not one specific reason we see a chain reaction effect in our society, and we know that this phenomenon is occurring.
The fact that we know this and do not implement immediate change is disheartening. News outlets need to focus less on the perpetrator and more on the victims and education. It can also be triggering for survivors to continue to hear about the subject of a mass killing and cause re-traumatization. Not much of how the United States navigates these events is particularly correct.
We are Moving Against Necessary Gun Reform
Florida’s gun laws are a good example of what not to do. Florida continues to go against gun reform and continues to go in the wrong direction. Here are some of Floridas current problematic gun control laws and some concerning legislation set to be passed:
- 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.
- Stand Your Ground: Florida’s controversial “stand your ground” law allows individuals to use deadly force in self-defense without first 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.
- Assault Weapons Ban: Florida does not currently have an assault weapons ban in place. 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.
- Background Checks: In Florida, licensed firearm dealers are required to 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.
- Waiting Periods: Florida does not currently have a waiting period for firearm purchases, although there have been proposals to implement such a waiting period in the wake of recent mass shootings.
- 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.
- 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. There is no database that allows for “red flags” like the state claims. Someone who has been institutionalized is able to get a gun.
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 quite literally 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.
Take it From Former Reformed Active Shooter Jon Romano
Jon Romano began his TikTok social media journey upon being released from prison for being an active shooter at Columbia High School in 2004. His platform had always been educational. He was open and honest and answered any questions people wanted to know. This included the nature of his crime, prison life, and his personal feelings about the crime he committed.
Recently Romano was working at a homeless shelter and was viciously attacked by someone with a sword. He sustained injuries to his arms, legs, hands, and face. His injuries were extremely severe. The sward almost dismembered parts of his body. After Romano was rushed to the hospital, the person who attacked him was arrested. It was reported that Romano didn’t know the person and had no previous relationship with the individual who attacked him.
Since this incident, Romano has been even more vocal about how we, as a society, can help stop violent behavior. He has a unique perspective because he was an active shooter and claims to now be reformed. He posts regularly, trying to connect with law enforcement officers, the community, and other government officials to help partner with them to decrease the number of active shooters.
Romano focuses mainly on mental health and often explains that if he had received better help and been more honest with his therapists that his shooting could have been prevented. Romano also seems to explain the theory of The Violence Project. In one video, Romano expressed that he himself was suicidal and had intended to take his own life. Instead, however, he took that anger outward and caused harm to others.
America Needs Gun Control and Gun Reform!
The main and most important way to stop active shooters is by utilizing gun control and removing accessibility to firearms. This will be the number one solution in America, and more gun control laws must be implemented. It is essential to understand that gun control does not necessarily have to mean that the use and sale of all guns will be illegal. Gun control can mean stricter rules and regulations regarding purchasing a firearm and the types of weapons available to the general population.
All persons should be required to have a background check to screen for felonies and mental health issues, which would exclude them from being able to purchase. This is not to say that people with mental health issues would have any rights violated, such as HIPPA. Everyone deserves for their private health information to stay private. However, in some states, if you are institutionalized against your will, you must sign a form committing to not purchasing or buying a firearm for the next year or two.
There is no official database for these commitments and one can be created that simply restricts someone’s ability to purchase a firearm. These tools can be implemented without violating HIPPA and would help keep that person and others safe. If you want to read more about gun control, check out our other blog here.
Illinois New Gun Control Legislation
Illinois made good headway on gun control last month by becoming the 9th state to ban assault-style weapons. Illinois.gov wrote, “Standing alongside lawmakers and gun control activists, Governor Pritzker signed the Protect Illinois Communities Act banning the sale and distribution of assault weapons, high-capacity magazines, and switches in Illinois, effective immediately.”
Since this legislation has passed, the lawsuits and amount of entities suing are just pouring in. Hundreds of plaintiffs apart of the lawsuit against the ban claim the assault weapons law violates the Illinois Constitution. Why would someone even need an assault weapon, and why are they fighting so hard to ban the legislation?
Illinois did not ban the sale and use of all guns, just the most dangerous and inappropriate for a civilian to have, such as high-powered guns and high-capacity magazines. The left need to take a seat and understand that no one, absolutely no civilian, needs an automatic weapon. There is no one reason to have one; they only pose a major safety risk.
Mental health help is a main solution that will help decrease the occurrences of active shooters. Mental health care needs to be free in The United States….period. There is a severe lack of accessibility for not only children and teens but for adults as well. A lot of violent behavior is simply rooted in mental health issues. We will have a safer society if these mental health issues are addressed.
Our government resources need to change as well. With the rise of inflation, the cost of groceries, housing, medicines, and just basic needs are becoming a struggle for many people. This puts significant strain and stress on individuals, leading to desperate and violent behavior that they may not have done otherwise, such as shoplifting.
At this point, we understand why so many mass shootings occur in the United States. Nothing changes if nothing changes, and it is evident that our government and right-winged pro-gun individuals are being ignorant of the blaring facts that gun violence is a serious problem.
So we can expect to continue to see more deaths from active shooters until gun control takes place and more Americans have better access to mental health care. It is an incredibly devastating situation to be in, and until our legislators make a change, all we can do is continue to fight for gun reform and try to keep ourselves, our families, and our loved ones safe.
We know the solution to mass shootings. We demand that our political leaders take action before we bury more children.