Guns or Something Else?

In the wake of the latest school shooting here in America, all of the various societal cogs are spouting their talking points in defense of their particular agendas. Hell, they probably didn’t have to dig very far to pull out their scripts as it has become a common theme in our United States of America. The pro gun lobby, anti gun lobby, liberals, conservatives, religious groups, and victims all have an opinion that they feel is the appropriate way to prevent such tragedies.

What I rarely hear or read about is where do these tragedies actually begin. The shooters aren’t born with a gun in their little hands that has to pried from them to suckle at their mother’s bosom. There isn’t an underground world of newborns laying waste to innocent lives in neonatal units in hospitals across our country. So how do these people end up doing such unspeakable acts of violence?

In a nutshell, our country has failed them. This is the part where our highly over paid, over bribed, and under aware politicians’ hair catches fire and they run around screaming. In a pedantically facetious way, lets just look at issues that are the likely contributing factors to mass shootings. How many mass shooters have degrees from Harvard, Yale, MIT, or any of the other “high end” universities? I’m guessing none. How many high end private K-12 schools have produced mass shooters? Again, I’m leaning toward probably none. The U.S. ranks 14th, and arguably lower, in quality of education among 40 countries. At the risk of over simplifying my point, how many of these mass shooters have been described as quality, well educated, and very involved students? I’m thinking these mass shooters are the antithesis to such qualities.

I’m the first to defend our teachers and our schools, yet our educational system is beyond lack luster. Where does the system fail? First it fails at the federal level. Even before the department of education, it is our elected officials in congress where the failure begins. Nearly half of our congress members send their children to private school. HALF OF OUR ELECTED POLITICIANS FEEL OUR PUBLIC NATIONAL EDUCATION SYSTEM IS NOT GOOD ENOUGH FOR THEIR CHILDREN! So half of our legislative branch which sets policy and approves budgets has no proverbial skin in the game when it comes to education. Why try and make it better if you don’t even use it? There are 13 other countries that we could look to for ways to make our education system more effective.

If we can improve our education system and improve student outcomes then that is one piece of the puzzle of contributing factors to making a mass shooter solved. So we fix education deficiencies but now we have mass shootings carried out by attentive successful students. What gives? Just because we figured out how to better educate people doesn’t mean those people don’t have other contributing issues.

I think we can all agree that all people who carry out mass shootings are suffering from some form of mental illness. There are no world rankings of countries by general mental illness care. However in a report that ranked the most “depressed” countries in the world, the U.S. ranked third. We are the third most emotionally and mentally depressed country in the world. We are in just barely squeaking by behind China and India, the top two most depressed countries. If our mental health system is so deficient that we are the third worst in the world in depression, you can bet all of the other mental illnesses are under treated.

In most cases mental health care is lumped in with just “health care”. The U.S. is ranked 37th in the world for health care systems. Thirty-fucking-seventh in the world! So when presented with the opportunity to centralize our health system and take it out of the hands of private money-making corporations our government fails to improve the outcomes of people with mental illnesses.

So improving mental health is another piece of the mass shooter prevention puzzle. Improving educational outcomes by overhauling the system to emulate to best parts of the 13 countries that do it better than us AND improving mental health and physical health outcomes by looking at the 36 other countries that do it better than us would go a long way to preventing mass shootings.

There was a time when mass shootings were as rare here as anywhere in the world. As America has fallen from leading the world in education and health care there is an uncanny “coincidence” that mass shootings have increased. This isn’t a gun control problem, it is at its core, a fundamental failure of our government to meet the needs of all of our citizens. By extension it is our failure in so much as we have elected these people to represent us and they have served those who contributed the most money to their campaigns. It is on us, the American electorate to put people in place who understand that making America great is not increasing wealth for the already wealthy, but improving those basic tenets that creates healthier, well adjusted people with a solid educational foundation on which they can compete in an increasingly globalized world. That is likely the most effective way to prevent further tragic shootings.

–The Twisted Cripple

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