Terrorism here and now (column)
Remember Columbine? I do.
As I was listening to music and reading picture books to my one-year-old, the radio announcer interrupted Bruce Springsteen, letting listeners know that a school shooting was currently under way — just twenty miles from where I lived. I immediately turned on the TV and watched the unfolding horror. Back then, a school shooting was not so common. But today? If you follow the news at all, you know the answer.
In light of the recent summer shootings, it’s time to pause, reflect, understand and take action to stop the increasing terrorism in our country. In 2014, the FBI released a report, confirming that in just six years, mass shootings have increased dramatically. We’re not exempt in Summit County — no one is — and it’s our responsibility to understand who these killers are and how we might stop future violence.
First, read this list and guess what they have in common: Adam Lanza, James Holmes, Jared Loughner, Dylann Storm Roof, John Houser and Timothy McVeigh. They are all white men and mass killers — not radical Muslims or young black men who are so often profiled and linked to criminal, terrorist acts. I’m not a big fan of racial profiling, but, according to the Political Research Association, 97 percent of school shooters have been male and 79 percent of them have been white.
Obviously, I don’t have an answer that will stop people from committing mass shootings, but I’ve done my research and can offer a few suggestions. As always, discuss. Educate yourselves and your families. Don’t live in fear, but rather, empower yourself by understanding the situation, the people involved and the environment.
Psychology Today reports “Most perpetrators (of mass shootings) are young males, who act alone after carefully planning the event. They often have a long-standing fascination with weapons and have collected large stores of them. The shootings usually occur in a public place and during the day time.” This is good information to know. Most shooters seek revenge, want attention and desperately need to be heard. Shooters have likely been bullied, betrayed and isolated. At the end of the day, rather than seeking help, they’ve chosen darkness over light.
With only a brief understanding of a mass shooter’s profile, we can still begin to understand and pay better attention. As a community, we need to create a safe-to-tell environment. If you know someone who exhibits the characteristics of a mass shooter, tell someone, perhaps multiple people. Call a counselor, or, better yet, call the police.
Education and awareness are not enough to stop terrorism. Our country must recognize the importance of mental illness and help people get help. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, our country needs to address gun control.
Research has clearly proven that more guns equal more homicides. It’s fairly simple math, but, before the hunters decide to burn this article, they should understand that I’m NOT talking about taking rifles away during elk season. I’m talking about the need for better background checks. I’m talking about the need to curb the number of guns purchased by one owner. I’m talking about the need to stop the ownership of assault weapons that fire rounds of bullets into a movie theater, a church or a school. Developing legislation to modify and improve gun control does not translate to laws about limiting liberty; rather, it’s creating common-sense regulations to create a safer environment in a current culture of violence.
There’s no one clear solution to stopping the violence that has and is plaguing our country. Like most issues, there are multiple steps that need to be taken. We must strike a balance and enforce multiple reforms to prevent mass shootings. At the top of the list: education, mental health reform, and stricter gun control laws. Without a joint effort, who knows what community might be targeted next? It’s time to think twice and take action.
Carrie Brown-Wolf lives in Summit County.
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