For the past few decades, Mass shooting has become frequent in the United States. Mass killing is the indiscriminate, brutal and unlawful murdering mostly by shooting of innocent people (Hooks, 1995). United States of America has experienced mass shootings over the past three decades. School shootings have become constant in the current society due to political, religious and social causes. As a result, many civilians and students have lost their lives in the massacres similar to the Red Lake School shooting that occurred in 2005. Mass killing has attracted the attention of American citizens leading to political campaigns by legislators and humanitarian activists to strengthen the law on offenders. There are several laws such as the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act enacted to fight and prevent mass shooting. This paper will aim at discussing some of the reasons why mass shooting frequently occur in the United States. It will further give Jerome Bjelopera’s explanation on mass murder and the recommendations made to mitigate mass killing.
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Reasons behind the Mass Killing
In the past three decades, United States has experienced 78 public mass killing. Public mass shooting happens in areas such as workplace, school, parking lots, restaurants, public transit or private parties. Based on the report of the Congressional Research Service, almost 550 lives have been lost in public shootings (Bjelopera et al. 2013). Mass shooting such as the December 2012 at Sandy Hook Elementary School revived attention on national policies in public health, education arena and law enforcement. In 2001, Al-Qaeda-inspired terrorist killed innocent Americans in mass shooting. The Al-Qaeda shooting was a wake-up call for the federal government to focus on counterterrorism and security efforts (Valentino, 2004).
Mental disorder is one of the factors contributing to mass shooting in the United States. Approximately 20 % of the US adults suffer from mental illnesses. Those under 18 years form a larger percentage with mental-health diseases. Most the mental problems are closely related to episode’s depression and loneliness. Mentally disturbed people have impaired ability to act or think critically. Furthermore, most of the mentally disturbed persons are not receiving any psychological treatment or support. A person with a mental problem is thus capable of carrying out any criminal activity. In the past three decades, about 38 out of 61 mass shooting offenders were diagnosed with mental illnesses.
Violent entertainment in the form of games and videos in the United States is another cause of mass shooting. Several movies and games act as catalysts to the mass killings. Natural Born Killer is an example of a movie capable of motivating mass killing (Abramsky, 2007). Postal is also an example of video game that acts as a catalyst to mass killing. These movies and video games have negative effect on the viewer. A viewer with a motive of revenge ends up practicing the acts leading to mass killing (Valentino, 2004). The American entertainment industry produces a lot of movies and video game depicting crime or violence. Violent movies and games have been indicated to be among the best selling products, and this has produced groups of violent people. The imitation of infamous criminals and portrayal of violence in the entertainment industry provides a source of modeling bad behavior (Bjelopera et al. 2013).
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Gun handling by citizens is common in many American communities. There are many guns circulating in the United States illegally. Guns are common weapons used in almost all-mass murders in United States (Holmes & Holmes, 2014). Easy access to guns has been a cultivating factor in a number of shootings in America. Although the government has tried to pass legislation on gun control, many citizens still own them (In Zandler, 2013).
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As a result of public mass shooting, there have been national policies to guard the safety of American citizens. There has been increased call for Law enforcers such as police officers to carry out their roles effectively. As a result, followed by an investigation, the reaction to incidents of mass shooting has become rapid. After proper investigation, there is prosecution and sentencing. Law enforcing agents sometimes exercise law enforcement preparedness and prevention measures. Mass shooting tends to be one-jurisdiction issues involving an individual community. This bars or prevents the federal government from playing a direct role in formulating specific local and state practices. United States president aims at using the Community Oriented Policing Service program to motivate police departments to acquire more resources. A model to demonstrate best practices for using school support officers is to be developed, and include there several specialists with educators and health experts. Grants could influence the development of law enforcement procedure for responding to mass shooting. There is a need to establish tactical emergency service group to aid law enforcement in case of mass shooting. The team’s role is to provide medical assessment, deliver medical care and support law enforcement safety.
Public mass shootings involve mass casualty incidents that lead both to injury and death. Due to the experience of mass shooting, the heath sector is well prepared in responding to such scenarios. It is addressing mass shooting as any other incident but with an emphasis on prevention, response, preparedness and recovery. Prevention mostly targets the perpetrator while the other measures are aimed at the victim of such a scenario.
In America, 12 out of the 78 mass shootings occurred in schools. Eight of these occurred at primary or secondary facilities. The mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School led to the death of 20 children and six adults. Law enforcers are looking for ways to improve school security. The federal government has enacted policies to deal with cases of violence at schools. These policies include anti-bullying programs. The government aims at improving the safety of students. However, the federal government faces the challenge of limited resources in initiating some of these policies. Cases of a limited fund for several school safety programs have been reported. Nevertheless, the department of education guidance has split the management process into prevention, response, preparedness and recovery. Prevention entails structured effort to help reduce the need to respond mass shooting in schools. Students need to feel safe at school.
The national government should emphasis on law enforcement policies. In addition to grants for particular law enforcement activities, it should provide assistance in the form of workforce. The federal government should have enough funds to train school officials, law enforcement and for a quick response to shooting scenarios. Effective law enforcement aiming at preventing and responding to crime must be developed. The federal government should also embrace Intelligence-Led policing. It is a framework aiming at modern operation police activity. It is a problem solving effort relying upon information input.
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The Department of Education should connect with community responders to identify potential hazards. They should review the most recent school safety audit and solicit staff input on the crisis plan and determine major crime and violence problems at school to assess how effective they are currently being addressed. Finally, they are to conduct an assessment to determine how current threats may affect the school’s vulnerability to a particular crisis.
There is a need of improving school climate such as supportive interpersonal relationship. It is a good strategy for mitigating and preventing crisis in schools. Moreover, there should be school support officers assigned by local law enforcement agencies to work with school and community based organizations. They will help in educating students on such issues as crime, illegal drugs and help in conflict resolution.
School preparedness and emergency planning should be paramount to incidents such as shooting. Schools current emergency plan should be consistent with the National Incident Management System. There should be a plan to establish the location of all students. In addition, a system to communicate with staff, family and the media should be in place.
The government should provide funding for a range of mental health programs. Mentally challenged individuals have been the cause of some mass shooting. Most of the mentally challenged individual cannot afford psychological treatment or support. Funding their treatment means reducing mass shooting. Finally, there should be an increase in physical security not only at schools but all public places. Every school should have armed guards to protect students from a shooter.
In conclusion, the federal government is trying its best in fighting mass shootings that have become frequent in United States. The federal government is using policies such as gun control, increased security measures and expanded psychiatric services to curb mass shooting. Having restrictions and policies may not prevent the next mass shooting but addressing the major causes may be essential. It is expected that the government takes radical efforts in fighting crime (Bjelopera et al. 2013). However, combating crime in the form of mass shooting is a team work to involve all stakeholders. Prevention is better than cure, and both the government and citizens should strive to prevent the occurrence of these criminal acts. Schools need to be safe to allow students learn without fear. States and national governments should enhance information sharing and give permission to police departments to hire school support officers.
Abramsky, S. (2007). American furies: Crime, punishment, and vengeance in the age of mass imprisonment. Boston, MA: Beacon Press.
Bjelopera, J. P., Bagalman, E., Caldwell, S. W., Finklea, K. M., McCallion, G., & Library of Congress. (2013). Public mass shootings in the United States: Selected implications for federal public health and safety policy. Congressional Research Service.
Holmes, R. M., & Holmes, S. T. (2004). Murder in America. Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications.
Hooks, B. (1995). Killing rage: Ending racism. New York, NY: H. Holt and Co.
In Zandler, J. C. (2013). Mass shootings and gun violence in America: Issues and perspectives.
Valentino, B. A. (2004). Final solutions: Mass killing and genocide in the twentieth century. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.