By Steve Zimmermann
It seems that every week that we see a news story of a mass shooting. Major news networks paste stories of anti-gun protesters regurgitating statistics to argue their point of why guns should be taken from the millions of responsible gun owners across America due to the actions of a very small percentage of mass murderers that use the gun as the tool of death.
It does seem that “mass shootings” are on the rise, but are they really? Maybe we should ask ourselves a few questions to help us see clearer.
- Are shootings happening at an incalculable rate, or is it the nonstop broadcast of the events on every news outlet that gives the perception on an increase?
- What has changed in American society to warrant violent behavior?
- Are there social indicators to help prevent a mass killing?
- What can we do as firearm owners to see the possibility of a threat, evade the threat, or stop the threat?
Let’s start with the 500lb gorilla in the room, are shootings happening more often?
Let me preface this by saying that any tragic loss of life is horrible. I can’t imagine getting a phone call informing me that I lost one of my children, under any circumstance. Also, I don’t know how the families of the perpetrators of these crimes cope with the agony and anguish of a “lost” child.
School shootings are not unique to America, nor did they start with Columbine in 1999. In fact, the first recorded “school shooting” in the U.S. took place in Greencastle, Penn. in 1764. School master Enoch Brown and 9 school children were attacked and killed by 4 Lenape Indians.
MASS SHOOTINGS AND THE FREQUENCY
FBI definition of mass shooting
"The United States' Congressional Research Service acknowledges that there is not a broadly accepted definition, and defines a "public mass shooting" as one in which four or more people selected indiscriminately, not including the perpetrator, are killed, echoing the FBI definition of the term "mass murder."
Let's look at some stats: This first link is from the FBI regarding violent crime.
( https://ucr.fbi.gov/crime-in-the-u.s/2016/crime-in-the-u.s.-2016/resource-pages/tables/table-11, describes nature of crime, and total commited in 2016)
The table below, divided by states, describes what weapon was used in their violent crimes in 2016:
(https://ucr.fbi.gov/crime-in-the-u.s/2016/crime-in-the-u.s.-2016/topic-pages/tables/table-12 describes by state the weapon used. Notice that all rifle used to commit murder are disproportionally lower than any other weapon, this includes the AR 15).
So, what about frequency? There is little doubt that yes, mass shootings are happening at a more frequent rate, but maybe not as much as the main stream media is reporting. The Crime Prevention Research Center has a great article by John Lott (http://crimeresearch.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/Analysis-of-FBI-Mass-Public-Shootings-Report.pdf) regarding FBI reporting on mass shooting trends.
As far as “mass shootings” (in quotes because each country defines in different criteria), a quick google search reveals that it is definitely NOT an exclusively American problem:
The Deadliest Mass Shootings In History
The reality is that true mass murder committed by guns are perpetrated by out of control governments against an unarmed populous (i.e. Hitler, Mao Zedong, Stalin, Che Guevara, and Mussolini are among the first that come to mind. All of which disarmed the citizenry for the “safety of society”).
I grew up in rural Eastern Idaho and graduated in ’96. I clearly remember, as many in my generation and those before, seeing pickup trucks, with rifle racks full of hunting rifles and shotguns. Never did it occur to the student body to grab a gun and shoot up the place. If we had an issue with someone it usually ended up in a fist fight and then it was over, sometimes generating a friendship out of the deal.
So, what changed?
We worked hard, had chores, sometimes worked a part time job, our parents expected that we followed the rules and if we didn’t we had consequences that followed. We knew the local police officers and sheriff deputies and respected them, and in turn they respected us.
What are kids doing now? They are told that they already know more than their parents, they are addicted to everything that is “on demand”, instead of having the joy of working for something. Parents let the media raise their little ones, exposing them to adult constructs of life before giving them the chance of being a kid. Accountability has all but been removed from schools and home. Violent movies and video games have replaced books and the outdoors. Respect for authority has been replaced with safe spaces and green zones where true dialogue cannot take place. Lack of parental involvement with schools and youth organizations has given way for more progressive ideals, and parents don’t have, or won’t, spend the time teaching constitutional principles, or at least something with virtue as a contrast. The media shows nothing but the negative of the world in a 24-hour cycle of hell, and rarely broadcast the good things taking place in the world. With respect of argument, it could be that violent media imprints and influences young developing minds towards violent behavior, or it could be that the violent behavior moves them towards the violent media. That could be an entire blog in itself.
ARE THERE SOCIAL INDICATORS?
In all the recent shootings (this blog was written 5-22-18), it seems that there are a few constants. The shooter was a “loner”, stayed to themselves. In some cases the murderer was on psychotropic drugs to control behavior, or suicidal issues (http://www.cchrflorida.org/antidepressants-are-a-prescription-for-mass-shootings/, http://www.cchr.org/sites/default/files/education/violence-and-suicide-booklet.pdf). They tend to be somewhat socially outcast by their peers. In the case of the Santa Fe, Texas school shooting, it seemed that he targeted specific individuals. In the Florida shooting, we learned that that shooter was bullied, even by the very kids speaking out against violence.
So, what can we do?
It is the authors suggestion to first love your family, and your neighbors. Show those around you that you genuinely care. I’m am not suggesting that all will be fixed by sitting around a camp fire singing kum ba yah and making smores, though who could so no to smores?! I am suggesting that we get out and know who we live by, who our kids are friends with, and being involved in the community, and yes sharing out constitutional views with them.
The sheepdog analogy is a great reference to those types of people. They watch and gather those around them, protecting from the threat.
So, what are the indicators of the threat? There are many articles and available literature on this topic.
WHAT CAN WE DO?
For those who chose to carry a firearm as a daily part of life, I believe we must first come to the reality of what that means to carry. We accept the responsibility and the consequences associated. I suggest for those who carry, to become informed on the laws and the truth and reality of honest gun statistics. For example, the CDC did a study, that they hid, confirming a study by professor Gary Kleck of Florida State University, that there are about 2.16 million defensive gun uses per year (http://gunsandcrime.org/dgufreq.html, http://www.gunsandammo.com/politics/cdc-gun-research-backfires-on-obama/).
Be vigilant when you are out and about. Pay attention to your surroundings, and always know your exits and understand that the gun should be your last line of defense.
GET TRAINING!!! You will always fall to your lowest level of training! Time on the range is great while working in the fundamentals, but it will never help you with holster work, shooting from cover and concealment or move and shoot scenarios. By the way, we offer many levels of training here (shameless plug)!! Shooting is a perishable skill, if you don’t keep it honed you will lose it. And yes, it is ok for most firearms to dryfire. That in itself, can help you significantly! For info on dry fire drills, come see us in the store.
All in all, we live in a different country from 20 years ago. Stay alert, get training, know your surroundings, know who you and your family associate with every day, arm yourself with true information and don’t be scared to have a real conversation with people on who you are and what you believe about the 2nd amendment. The info we receive on a daily basis from the news sources we choose to trust (honestly, I don’t trust any of them any more) needs to be fact checked. A few hours on the internet sourcing the FBI Uniform Crime Reports are a great place to gain insight, beyond their shortcomings. Information is power!
At the age of 17, Steve developed his love and respect for all aspects of the firearms community. Originally trained as a carpenter, his attention to detail has helped him move to a career in something he is very passionate about. If you ask him what he likes most about firearms, he will tell you "everything!" Steve is currently certified as a Chief Range Safety Officer, where he is able to certify new range safety officers, as well as a Pistol Instructor through the NRA. He is also a certified instructor for the USCCA (United States Concealed Carry Association), allowing him to teach concealed carry classes. Steve is our Range Operations Manager, and we are excited to have him as a team member!