by Countable | 2.15.18
The mass shooting at a Florida high school on Wednesday was the 18th already in 2018. The current regularity of mass shootings in American life is undeniable. It begs the question: why are mass shootings so commonplace in the United States, and what is the most effective way, therefore, to prevent them?
Professor Adam Lankford at the University of Alabama conducted a study that attempted to answer the first question. The New York Times outlined it in depth.
Common reasons cited for the frequency of mass shootings in the U.S. compared to other countries include: lack of adequate mental health care, racial divisions which have frayed the bonds of society, and the extent to which violence is embedded in U.S. culture. Think Wild West mentality and the prevalence of violent video games and movies for that last one.
The authors argue that none of those reasons hold up when you compare the U.S. to other countries. The same factors exist, and yet mass shootings are an uncommon or non-existent occurence.
So, what do the authors say sets the U.S. apart? The number and types of guns available and the relative ease of securing them.
Americans make up about 4.4 percent of the global population and own 42 percent of the world’s guns. From 1966 to 2012, 31 percent of the gunmen in mass shootings worldwide were American.
This reality, they say, grows out of an idea that is almost exclusive to the U.S.-- that people have an inherent right to own guns. Other countries with high levels of gun ownership, like Switzerland, approach gun ownership as an earned privilege, not a right, and more strictly regulate gun licensing, sales and types of guns available.
Do you agree with the assessment of the Lankford study or not? What do you think is the cause of the frequency of mass shootings in the U.S., and given the cause, what do you think we can or should do to prevent them?
Tell us in the comments what you think, then use the Take Action button to tell your reps!
— Asha Sanaker
(Photo Credit: Associated Press via Twitter )
Written by Countable