From the editors: In lieu of the recent shooting in Parkland, Florida, we asked you to send us your opinions and thoughts about  the current state of our American culture in relation to the seemingly growing prevalence of mass shootings. Obviously, this incited a lot of passionate and well thought out responses. We have compiled your responses here. We use our Think Tank series to promote an open forum for the opinions of all of our campus community, often involving topics which are considered difficult to talk about. We appreciate your contributions.

“Culturally as Americans we have always placed the blame of terrorism conducted against us on a brown immigrant. Our image of terrorism has been subconsciously molded to think this way. As a culture we tend to try to place the blame on anyone else but ourselves. When I think of these atrocities that occur throughout the country, I see them as domestic terrorism. Some may argue that it can not be labeled as terrorism without a motive but what if these individuals’ motives were simply because they felt entitled enough that they could? The majority of mass shootings are not conducted by illegal firearms from the black market. They are conducted by legally purchased firearms. Another fact is that the mass shootings in America have been conducted by predominately white males. Not brown immigrants as one might think.

Until one of those congressmen or until one of these individuals who are against gun control laws step into the place of these families or go through a heartbreaking scare where it could be their own child in a similar situation at his or her school, I don’t believe anything will be done.”

-Averie Urena

“The FBI did a great job wiretapping phones to stop Sean Miller from paying to stack teams in college basketball but ignored (repeatedly) tips and reports about the maniac who shot up a school. First step would be to get our government to care about its people rather than the money in college sports. The priority there should be pretty clear.

I also read an interesting opinion article in the New York Times about masculinity and the support our boys lack in today’s society (Michael Ian Black-The Boys Are Not All Right). Boys today are trapped in an outdated view of masculinity and don’t even have the language to talk about their feelings and seek the help they need. The ones who don’t work out their feelings turn to withdrawal or rage.

So the solution is twofold: support our boys culturally, from the ground up, and get our federal government to do what they said they’d do when we allowed them to erode our freedoms in the name of security.”

-Jared Barnhart

“I refuse to accept people who are mass-murders as any representation of our diverse American culture.

Parents need to be more proactive in ensuring guns stay out of the hands of kids. We ALL must remain vigilant and report any suspicious activity, and everyone must know what to do in the case of an active shooter incident. This emphasizes the importance for all schools to be running active shooter drills on a regular basis.”

-Joseph Hollner

“I feel like we need to get to the root of the mental component in these murders. Let’s be careful how we label these ugly truths. They are not only “mass shootings”. It is mass MURDER!

Why is our country seemingly rotting from the inside out? Why can’t we take care of our sick people? Before we go changing our constitution, (which would be a very very difficult thing to do) let’s address the real reasons these murders are happening: drugs, mental health, poverty, etc.

We need to get the the core of the problems and not just address they symptoms.”

-Daniel Groves

“Ultimately, I believe that we cannot pinpoint motivation for shootings on any one thing. I think that depression, anxiety and other mental health issues are in effect. There is also the sometimes unpredictable effects of their associated medications. On another note, there is certainly an awful lot of violence portrayed on almost any media platform. Normally, this would not be an issue, provided that context is given to children who would be most affected by it. Finally, there is a correlation with a majority of school shooters and lack of a parental figure (either a single mother or father).  Regardless of the circumstances surrounding the shooter themselves, ultimately we must determine how to protect our children in the most effective manner.”

-Frank Chmarak

“The 13 colonies were built upon the Enlightenment notion that political leadership could be transferred peacefully through a vote of the majority.  Kings and Princes no longer had to be executed to move new ideas forward. After the violence of the American Revolution, the leaders of our young nation were still predisposed to settling political battles with a gun – the noble duel of English aristocratic culture. Despite heroic efforts of our leaders, political violence culminated in the Civil War where President Lincoln turned the US military on its own citizens to preserve the Union. The big idea that “all men are created equal” slammed into the hypocrisy of slavery and it could not be solved with debate. Lincoln himself died at the hands of one who did not see a political pathway to resolving the debates of a democratic nation.

For a moment, let us not blame the political violence of our nation on the mentally ill. Most do not commit violent crimes and they have enough problems without the nation heaping on. Let us set aside the easy scapegoating of movies, videogames, and social media; they only possess power because we choose to consume them.

Instead, let us pause to examine the language of our public debate. How many times do we say one leader “attacked” another rather than “criticized” or “disagreed?” How quickly do we avoid the difficulties of honest democratic debate by dismissing those who disagree with us as “enemies?” How easy is it to confuse disagreement with distrust and suspicion? How short is the distance between violent words and violent actions?

In the ashes of the first great democracy on the planet Plato taught us that Athens fell apart not because Sparta was stronger but because Athenians used words as weapons rather than tools for seeking wisdom. They betrayed the big ideas that defined themselves as Athenians and they paid the price for it. Before Plato Thucydides noted that of all burgeoning Greek city states it was Athens that first set aside its side arms (then daggers/swords). It’s citizens no longer needed to worry about safety in public places, therefore, they could spend their energy and talent on building their economy, advancing science, creating works of Art, and ultimately living up to their ideals. Once their words were used only for winning and losing Thucydides saw the beginning of their end.

I challenge everyone (including myself) to be vigilant, to call out those moments where words of violence, distrust, and fear, should be replaced with words of honest debate, compromise, and wisdom. If we believe in the founding ideas of the United States, we believe that words have the power to shape our individual and collective consciousness. In a democracy, things get better when we talk to each other and when we vote. Let us dial down the rhetoric. Let’s use words to solve problems. Let us not contribute to the next prelude to violence.”

-Glenn McClure

“I would like to add that even though each circumstance of the school murders and ones like Las Vegas appear the same from the outside, each has individual differences. Some of the murderers had shown signs of hate or depression or seclusion, violent video games, postings online, some not. There are always a series of events that lead to an accident, or in this case a tragedy. The last tragedy had pre warnings, even the FBI was notified, yet it fell through the cracks.

From mental illness to chemical imbalances, or society relying on medications to “sedate or hinder” rage or possible violent outbursts. What happens when the medication is not taken or changed. Normal, stable, happy, healthy people don’t wake up in the morning and decide to murder a bunch of school kids. Schools are sacred ground in my mind. We don’t keep hungry lions in insecure cages near our schools?

In America everyone has rights, but the majority don’t have the right to know medical or “mental” issues of the minority that could possibly pose a higher risk. I have heard that a community raises a child, we all look out for each other, or are supposed to.

Worldwide people are always killing people, it is nothing new, but in a “civilized” society we tend to not target schools. In LA roughly 3 homicides per day, heck, for a while our country’s capital was on the top ten homicide list, nothing new, stack um up high.  Drugs, poverty, gangs, greed, payback, there were stabbings in my high school in the early 1990’s, and we had on duty detectives in the school.

The news hypes up these events, they’ll make you famous in a minute. We see terrorists beheading, driving trucks into groups of people, strapping bombs to babies, lighting people in cages on fire, video games of violence, the higher frequency the more the norm. We should consider why we promote and reinforce this behavior.

My take, our culture and society is sick, overpopulated, and weak, we will manage a herd of deer but not ourselves. We have removed natural selection from Homo sapiens. With overpopulation, stress brings out war over land, water, food, religion. Do these stresses also create a foundation for kids murdering kids, add on lack of parenting, add on mental illness, add on no responsibility for their actions, and a broken legal system that doesn’t enforce deterrence or an eye for an eye punishment.

Why can one google how to make a pressure cooker bomb, or how to join ISIS. We still have hate groups in the USA,  it is 2018? Society doesn’t care enough, they are just following the one in front of them, not paying attention to the cliff ahead. We also forget the past too quickly and turn a blind eye to reality, we must protect ourselves because no one else will.”

-Tom Bartiss

“As insiders, I think we are long beyond aghast and are somewhat numb from the repeated trauma to our communal soul. How long can we sustain this onslaught without becoming detached from the horror?

Perhaps the best way to see ourselves clearly is to take an outsider’s perspective. If this were another country, we would likely assert that they suffered from a serious breakdown in the most basic level of respect for the sanctity of life. We see violence as the instant solution to frustrations in developing countries; do we not ourselves behave like third-worlders?

Yes, we have rights as Americans, among them the highly distorted second amendment rights that our constitution’s framers had intended for other purposes. Recall from grade school that our rights end where the next person’s begin- we are trampling on the rights of our students to feel safe in school, for our citizens to feel safe anywhere.

The majority of Americans, by far, believe we need stronger gun control. It is greed that thwarts the majority, not common sense or intellect or the ability to understand statistics. Our representatives fail to represent, because they are in the pockets of the NRA, and mental illness or no, the only variable we can control that will ease these violent mass murders is the sale of guns- the types of guns and to whom they might be sold. Reasonable controls will not be instituted until the NRA sees reason.”

Amy Dewitt

“Originally, I was not going to publicly talk about this but because of the other replies in this email thread, I decided to talk about gun control.  Most of the American population is currently uneducated about gun control and have not looked at any of statistics of mass shootings in the U.S., whether you agree with me, here are the facts.

Currently, everyone in America lives in a climate where they believe their thoughts and prayers will shield their children when the next mass shooter comes to their school, this is far from the case. The Parkland shooting is the 18th school shooting in American this year alone, we have had over mass 290 shootings since 2013, which averages about once a week.  America has 5% of the world’s total population, but over 30% of the world’s mass shootings, and about 1/3 of the world’s private gun ownership.1

Many people like to blame mental disorders for the rise of mass shootings in America, yet, according to Appelbaum2, less than 3 of 5% of all crimes committed in the U.S. involve people with a mental illness.  In fact, people with “severe” mental illness are over 10 times more likely to be victims of violent crimes than the rest of the population3.  Schizophrenic individual are 14 times more likely to be a victim of a violent crime, then committing one4.  Another study shows that 50% of the people killed by the police are disabled or mentally ill5, and if you have ever watched an actual unbiased news source, one would know that the other victims are usually black or people of color.

The Guardian wrote a similar story that shows Professor Daniel Freeman’s research, which shows women are 40% more likely than men to develop common mental illnesses, it also shows that “women are approximately 75% more likely than men to report having recently suffered from depression, and around 60% more likely to report an anxiety disorder”, yet Newsweek published an article on 10/2/17 after the Las Vegas shooting that shows that a majority of mass shootings are committed by men, 54% of them actually, while Mother Jones reports “white men have been responsible for about 63% of mass shooting from 1982”.  Even that lower statistic shows that white men have committed more mass shootings than any other group, especially the mentally ill.

Stepping aside from white men, men in general, commit 98% of all mass shootings, and 90% of all murders are committed by men.

If you didn’t read everything on here the point is, the U.S is the only country in the world where guns are a problem, and that isn’t a debate, it’s a cold fact.

Here are some sources:”

-Nicholas Robins


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