I followed the news closely after hearing about the El Paso active shooter in the local mall. My mom lived there for several years and she still has friends there so of course we were heartbroken to hear the news. I honestly could not imagine the nightmare those poor people lived through. I read that a mother was killed shielding her 2-year-old son. Others shot while trying to flee the store.
After waking this morning, I read the news of Dayton, Ohio. Two mass shootings in 24 hours. I looked over at my children sleeping and felt scared. Truly scared for their lives. Is no one safe anymore? Twenty-nine people had lost their lives in a days time to mass shootings. I laid in bed for a while with my thoughts. Asking God why does this keep happening. What is the root of this evil that has no regard for human life?
Active shooters in 2019
I can understand people’s blame going straight to gun control or the Administration. Placing blame anywhere they can because it’s so hard to make sense of all of this. My husband and I lived in Lafayette, LA when two women were killed by a radical extremist in a movie theater on July 23, 2015. We never thought in a million years our little town would experience such a thing.
I was scared for my children and the world they were going to be raised in.
This morning after reading an article by USA Today, it stated that Ohio marked the 251st shooting in the past 216 days. Over 520 people have been killed and near 2,000 injured by mass shootings just this year. Yet The New York Times reported that over 100 people are killed by guns everyday.
Yes, I understand that people die every day to gun violence, unfortunately way too many of them. What is it about mass shooters? My mind began to race for answers. Why does this keep happening? Is this all about gun control? Why is there so little disregard for human life in today’s society?
Four things all active shooters have in common
I started doing a little research today on mass shooters and what was their common thread. I discovered they all have several things in common. I stumbled across an article by The Los Angeles Times written in June of this year. The authors studied every mass shooting since 1966 and uncovered several things that each of these shooters had in common.
1. Childhood trauma
The majority of shooters had experienced some sort of childhood trauma at a young age; parental suicide, physical or sexual abuse, neglect, domestic violence, and/or severe bullying. This trauma was often a leading factor to mental health concerns.
2. Reached a breaking point
Most every mass shooter studied had reached an identifiable crisis point in the weeks or months leading up to the shooting. Most had become angry and hopeless because of a specific grievance. For some it was a change in job status, relationship rejection or a significant loss which often played a role.
3. Studied previous shooters
A large majority of the shooters had studied actions of other shooters from the never ending news and social media coverage that we are all bombarded with everyday. They knew the exact plan of other killers. Just like we have seen over the last month, mass shootings tend to come in clusters.
This makes perfect sense. July 30th Southhaven, MS Walmart shooting by former employee killing two people. July 29th the Gilroy Garlic Festival where three were killed, in which two were children. July 25th a Los Angeles shooting spree where a man killed his father and sister then a women at a gas station and a man on a bus. I could go on and on but I think you get the point. All these events were plastered on local and national news as well as over the numerous forms of social media.
4. Have the means
The shooters all had the means to carry out their plans. Once someone decides life is no longer worth living, the only thing standing in the way is means and opportunity. Eighty percent of school shooters got their weapons from family members. Workplace shooters tended to use handguns they legally owned. Most of the guns used in mass shootings were not acquired illegally.
The real truth
As I continued to scroll through Facebook I came a across an ad for a workout program and noticed that a woman I follow on Facebook was in the ad. I thought “How cool! Let me watch this.” I watched the 15 second ad showing her working out with her 5 year old daughter there beside her. Of course the ad was documenting her progress to show how their program had helped her lose some unwanted pounds and tone her body. Wow she was on a national ad! Good for her!
But then I clicked on the comments.
“Those pictures are fake.”
“What a joke. She looked the same on Day 30 as she did at Day 1.”
“All the time she has spent dancing and she still can’t dance.”
“It’s a shame that people think a healthy weight is fat.”
“She’s not even moving to the beat.”
“Ok so just wiggle your fat everyday and half ass dance and you can lose weight. Yeah…not.”
“That girl can not dance. She looks like she’s having a seizure.”
I was appalled and disgusted. After reading those comments I honestly could not believe the hate, taunts, and attacks that these women were throwing out. I felt sick to my stomach that grown people could be so hateful and judgmental to a complete stranger. And we blame gun control for mass shootings! Do you want to hear the truth. People are ugly, mean, just down right hateful! Could you imagine being that women in the ad reading those comments? What it would do to her self-esteem, her self-worth?
I know this girl’s story because she commonly tells it to inspire others of what they are capable of overcoming. She got pregnant at 14, disowned by her father, sent to an orphanage, changed schools nine times, pregnant again at 17, married at 19, third baby at 21 divorced at 24. And the story continues through more trials, tribulations, hardships and heartache. But she made it through and has not only survived but now is thriving and putting herself out there to help others.
Would you ever allow your child to speak to someone the way? To taunt a classmate? To ridicule a neighborhood child? Then why in the hell would YOU do it?! These shooters were children once too and I can’t help but wonder what kind of childhood they must have lived. Were they tormented in school by other children? Abused by their parents? Sexually assaulted by a trusted family friend? Did their teachers disregard them? Where they always playing alone on the playground?
Would you instruct your child to stay away or encourage them to be a friend to a child like that? One kind gesture, word, or action can cause a ripple effect that can change a child’s future for the better. One positive effort to that child could change his perception, his journey. Teach your children to love others. Teach them to be kind. Teach them to be nice. Teach them to be grateful and not to judge. This world will only change if we do it one child at a time. Start with your own.