Many of us have watched with anguish and sad hearts as one tragedy after another has taken place over the past few weeks in North America. Three hurricanes that killed several hundred people. An earthquake, in Mexico City, leaving more than 350 people dead.
Billions of dollars in the destruction of property in Houston, Florida, and the Caribbean. And now a mass shooting in Las Vegas which has killed 59 people and wounded more than 500. There is very little we can do to prevent hurricanes and earthquakes.
There is a great deal we can do to prevent gun violence similar to what we witnessed in Las Vegas.
Some of the discussion in the aftermath of these mass shootings has focused on preventing those with mental illness from owning guns. But people with mental illness are more likely to be victims of violence than perpetrators of it. According to the American Psychiatric Association’s past president, Dr. Renee Binder, “Stronger indicators of risk include a history of violent behavior, domestic violence, and drug or alcohol abuse.”
According to a study published in Behavioral Science and the Law in 2015, nearly one in 10 U.S. adults have both a history of impulsive anger and access to a firearm. The study was done using a Harvard-led survey from the early 2000’s in which participants who were considered to have a high risk for impulsive anger responded affirmatively to some or all of the following questions: “I have tantrums or angry outbursts;” “Sometimes I get so angry I break or smash things;” and “I lose my temper and get into physical fights.”
One of the conclusions of the study was that participants who owned six or more guns were found to be four times more likely to carry guns outside of the home and to be in the high-risk anger group than participants who owned one firearm.
The study authors also suggest that a more effective policy might be to restrict gun access based on an individual’s arrest history. Arrests that might indicate a history of impulsive or angry behavior — for example, criminal records of misdemeanor violence, DWIs and domestic violence restraining orders.
Nearly one in 10 U.S. adults have both a history of impulsive anger and access to a firearm
The United States makes up less than 5 percent of the world’s population, yet it contains 35 to 50 percent of the world’s civilian-owned guns. The man who was responsible for the Las Vegas shooting had about twenty guns in his hotel room and another twenty or more weapons in his home. And the weapon he used was a fully automatic weapon that allowed him to kill or wound hundreds of people in a matter of minutes.
We have evolved into a society where concerts, nightclubs, movie theaters and even schools are no longer safe places to be. If you don’t like this, then make your voice heard and do something to change the system. We have to accept the regular arrival of hurricanes and earthquakes. But we can do something to prevent these types of mass murders.
Gregg Krech Author, Naikan: Gratitude, Grace and the Japanese Art of Self-reflection (2002)| Author, A Natural Approach to Mental Wellness (2004, 2011)| Author, A Finger Pointing to the Moon (2000)| Editor, Thirty Thousand Days: A Journal for Purposeful Living (1993-Present)| Director, ToDo Institute (Vermont) (1992-Pr......