Q: Name one step we can take to stop gun violence.
"Name one step we can take to stop gun violence." I was listening to the radio while taking a shower this morning, and this was directed by NPR Morning Edition's Steve Inskeep to Mark Kelly, the husband of Gabby Giffords (the Arizona legislator that was shot in the head by a gunman in 2011).
There is no one answer to "fix" gun violence, but I would like to make a few suppositions:
People choose to buy a gun. They choose to shoot someone. Thus, at its most basic level, a mass shooting is something that a person wants to do. In the San Bernardino case, these were two young people with a six-month-old child. What would compel a young couple to override their parental instinct to stay and care for their little one? I would suppose that they made a conscious choice to do so, regardless of the reason why*.
Guns create a heightened level of entitlement (and a release of dopamine) in most people. Guns aren't inherently bad; they are indeed tools that create a sort of change in a physical state. So, when a person with a heightened sense of entitlement wants to inflict a huge amount of damage, using a powerful tool like a gun is a way of accomplishing that.
Shootings are a real and deadly manifestation of people with poor coping skills. I work with kids almost every day who act up by hitting, throwing tantrums, yelling at their parents, etc. The common denominator in every one of these actions is a lack of coping skills because they can't figure out in the moment how to suppress their egocentricity. These kids aren't "crazy" and often don't need medications. They just have a heightened sense of entitlement. Luckily, they have no means of using a powerful tool to accomplish those ends. Instead, in a series of appointments, the parents, teachers, therapists, and I work with these folks to build frustration-tolerance and decrease selfishness. And most times, it works.
I would contend that most adults have learned coping skills at a level to keep a general social peace. But no social peace is completely impenetrable, and with the health and wealth disparities in America, even the most "balanced" American will stray from their inner "woosah." Thus, we need a system that can teach mindfulness, coping skills, social skills, behavior modification – and if needed – refer to medication.
It must be a system that is not stigmatized and is readily accessible. P.S.Y.C.H. does this from a very early age so that accessing coping skills and reaching out for help becomes a social norm rather than resorting to mass shootings and irreversibly tearing our social fabric.
*Social isolation *Workplace violence
*Mental illness (with the exception of particular diagnoses, such as schizophrenia, where the patient's very perception of reality is skewed due to biological/genetic reasons)
In regards to access to guns, that's a whole other topic for a different blog.