Getting to the real root of the problem
Three mass shootings in a matter of days, leaving 34 dead and 65 wounded in Dayton, in El Paso, in Gilroy, have left our county in shock.
According to Mother Jones, which has compiled a data base of all such incidents since 1982, there have been seven mass shootings — defined as three or more dead, not including the gunman — so far this year. The first occurred here in Florida on Jan. 23 when a 21-year-old entered a bank and shot five women dead execution style before surrendering to police.
Shootings followed on Jan. 24 in State College, Pa. — five dead in a bar, including the 21-year-old gunman’s former girlfriend; Feb. 15 in Aurora, Ill., at a warehouse where a fired employee armed with a handgun killed five and wounded six; May 31 in Virginia Beach, Va., where a city worker armed with a pair of hand guns killed 12 and wounded four; and the three most recent — at the Gilroy Garlic Festival in Gilroy, California; a Walmart in El Paso, Texas; and an entertainment strip in Dayton, Ohio — where shooters armed with what are being described as AK-47-style rifles fired on crowds, according to Mother Jones.
The deaths and injuries have left most of us crying why.
The deaths and injuries have left most of us crying for answers in a world where death has become as seemingly random for students, festival goers, shoppers with kids and well, anyone and everyone.
And the deaths have left those with political agendas casting blame and offering fixes for a world gone mad.
Were that it was as that easy, that a simple change of legislation or a political shift to the right or left could mitigate a problem that has permeated our society — and we are not talking just about mass shootings, where collective tallies shock us to the heart but the one-by-one-by-one deaths by similar violence whose collective numbers should equally sicken.
As the Mother Jones chart — which lists everything from place and date to victim counts and shooter history illustrates — the problem crosses a broad range of perpetrators. Mass “gunmen” range from 11 to 66. Their weapons of choice range from a single hand gun to the multi-weapon arsenal used to kill 58 and wound 546 in Las Vegas on Oct. 1, 2017. About half had a history of mental health issues that were apparent, some had situational anger issues, others left those who knew them clueless as to motivation.
The issue transcends political administrations and Congressional majorities, dating back to the first listed shooting on Aug. 20, 1982 ,when a junior high school teacher upset that his wife left him because he would not seek treatment for mental health issues, armed himself with a shotgun and entered a Miami welding shop where he killed eight people and wounded three.
Thirty-seven years — and 114 incidents, 932 dead and 1,406 wounded — later, we are still regurgitating the same rhetoric, still playing the same political issues blame game.
We will let others continue that fray today as we are, again, in a state of national mourning.
But we will devote a moment to the root of what ails us, as a people and as a country.
Be it a “mass shooting,” where the collective number shouts, or a series of “street deaths” where each single statistic — each death of a son, of a daughter — whispers, there is, too often, though, yes, not always, a commonality of issues: A mental health crisis, disenfranchisement with society, or both.
We, as a country have failed to make mental health care a priority, no matter how much we tout health care for all. Ask any family that has struggled to find help for a member in crisis or addiction.
We have failed to make our neighborhoods and cities safe, despite decades of money thrown at poverty programs that continue to fail far too many impoverished youths and families. Ask any family that has lost a son or a daughter to the streets.
The resulting culture-permeated expression via violence is the result.
Our condolences to those who lost loved ones.
Our prayers for recovery of the wounded.
– Citizen editorial