“A gunman wearing a gas mask and black SWAT gear hurled a gas canister inside a crowded movie theater during a midnight showing of the new Batman movie Friday and then opened fire, killing 12 people and wounding nearly 60 others in an attack so bizarre that some moviegoers at first thought they were watching Hollywood special effects.” (Spartanburg Herald – Journal Jul 20 2012) In today’s America it is unfortunately not out of the ordinary to see headlines like this. It is all too common to see that a place of mass gathering, such as a school, movie theatre, or even a military installation, has fallen victim to a mass shooting. There have been many mass shootings that have affected multiple places throughout our country. Some of the most notable include: Columbine High School, Aurora Colorado Movie Theatre, Virginia Tech, Ft. Hood, Sandy Hook Elementary School, and the Washington Navy Yard. Through them all there have been many positive effects of an otherwise negative event. Along with the positive effects though, there are of course many negative effects of the mass shootings in America.
Mass shootings are unfortunately becoming a more and more common in America today. The April 1999 shooting at Columbine High School seems to have brought mass shootings into the limelight. This was mostly because of the tragic outcome. Columbine students Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold killed 12 fellow students and 1 teacher, then shot themselves, in their rampage through the school. The mass shootings of today have evolved and multiplied in numbers. The Virginia Tech campus fell victim of a mass shooting April of 2007 when a student opened fire killing 32 fellow students. In July of 2012 James Holmes entered a Colorado movie theatre and opened fire killing 12 moviegoers. Sandy Hook Elementary school was targeted in December of 2012 when Adam Lanza entered the school and killed 20 children and 6 adults. Most people think military bases are some of the safest, most secure, places in the country. However, these too have fallen victim to mass shootings. Major Nadal Hassan killed 13 fellow soldiers before he was stopped by base police in November of 2009. Most recently, September of 2013 a government contractor killed 12 people inside the Washington Navy Yard. No place is sacred.
Through all of the tragedy that that mass shootings have caused in America there have been some positive effects that have come to light. One of the positive effects is the increased awareness of mental illness and it’s relation to mass shootings. Criminal justice psychiatrist Fred Osher, who heads the behavioral health division of the Council of State Governments’ Justice Center spoke about the relation at the 2013 National Council Conference. Osher stated “Mental illness may be a consistent but modest risk factor in the likelihood of violence.” He went on to say that there is no “casual” link between mental illness and violence but some mental illnesses “increase the statistical risk of violence.” Osher told the council that some mental illnesses may result in psychosis causing the mental illness patient to hear voices commanding them to harm. (Behavioral Healthcare 33.3 2013) With the increased number of mass shootings more research has gone into the connection between mental illness and mass shootings. Along with the research into mental illness, the unfortunate uprising of mass shootings in America has led to first responders, such as police, SWAT, EMS, and Firefighters, to better their response tactics over time.
The first responders at the Columbine High School shooting set up a cordon around the school and then waited for the SWAT team to arrive. This ultimately may have led to the large number of casualties. Police officers of today have been trained to respond to mass shootings, more commonly referred to as “active shooter” incidents, a lot differently than they did at Columbine. They are also better equipped. Police of today respond to an “active shooter” incident by waiting for at least one partner and then enter into the affected area and have the ultimate goal of stopping the shooter and minimizing the loss of innocent lives. This has been linked to a decline in casualties in mass shooting incidents. Along with the positive effects of mass shootings in America there are undoubtedly multiple negative effects of mass shootings.
Undeniably the saddest negative effect of mass shootings in America has been the countless lives that have been cut short. In just the shootings listed above there were 109 casualties. These are only some of the most notable mass shootings in America. There have been countless more leading to many more casualties. Along with the massive amount of casualties that have resulted from mass shootings in America there is always the risk of “copy cats” that want to copy what was done. The mass media coverage of mass shootings have made the shooters into almost celebrities. Some people are looking for a way to make a name for themselves and see this as a legitimate way to make themselves known. Another negative effect of the mass shootings in America has been the fact that it has become almost impossible for law-abiding citizens to purchase firearms in America. The process in a lot of states can take months at a time. Even after a wait time you may still be restricted from purchasing and owning a firearm. Many Americans see this as an infringement on their constitutional “right to bear arms.”
Unfortunately, in today’s America mass shootings are an all too common event. It seems as if no place in America is sacred. Everywhere from schools to movie theatres to military bases have been targeted. Although many people may not think of the mass shootings in a positive light there have been some positive effects of the mass shootings in America. Along with those positive effects there have undeniably been negative effects. We will probably never see the end of mass shootings in America.
P, SOLOMON B., and Thomas Peipert. “Police: 12 Dead in Colorado Theater Shooting.” Spartanburg Herald – Journal Jul 20 2012. ProQuest. Web. 29 Sep. 2014. Grantham, Dennis. “Mass shootings, criminal violence: can’t be predicted, but can be mitigated: additional screening of at-risk individuals, followed by treatment, may stop future violence.” Behavioral Healthcare 33.3 (2013): 46+. Criminal Justice Collection. Web. 1 Oct. 2014.