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Ian Johnson
Malcolm Campbell
UWRT 1103
November 12, 2015
Gun Crime and Mass shootings: Who is Really Pulling the Trigger?
At some point before heading off the school, Adam Lanza, age 20, kills his mother
Nancy. He then grabbed three guns from the house; a semi-automatic AR-15 assault rifle and
two pistols and then proceeds to go to Sandy Hook elementary school wearing black fatigues and
a military vest, according to a law enforcement official.(Sandy Hook Elementary Shooting)
Classes were underway at the school with around 700 students and faculty present. Earlier in the
year, a security system was purchased and installed. All the doors of the school were locked by
9:30 a.m. However, there was no stopping Lanza. He shoots through the entrance of the building
and proceeds to kill 26 people, 20 of which were between the ages of 5 and 10 years old. (Sandy
Hook Elementary Shooting) The other 6 were staff and facility that happened to be in the wrong
place at the wrong time.
5 months earlier during a midnight screening of Batman: The Dark Night Rises in
Aurora, Colorado, a gunman, dressed in tactical clothing, sets off tear gas grenades and shot into
the audience with multiple firearms. 12 people were killed and 70 others were injured, the largest
number of casualties in a shooting in the United States.(Aurora) The sole assailant, James
Eagan Holmes, was arrested in his car parked outside the cinema minutes later. It was the
deadliest shooting in Colorado since the Columbine High School massacre in 1999. Prior to the
shooting, Holmes rigged his apartment with homemade explosives, which were defused by a
bomb squad one day after the shooting. (Aurora)

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With these two incidents in mind, it is only human to question why are more and more
mass shootings happening now than ever before, especially on public places such as movie
theaters and school campuses. It also raises questions on What can be done to prevent these
mass shootings and whether gun control is a positive thing or a negative thing during these
A mass shooting refers to an incident involving multiple victims of gun violence. But
there is no official set of criteria or definition for a mass shooting, according to criminology
experts and FBI officials. There are usually three terms you will see to describe a perpetrator of
this type of gun violence: mass murderer, spree killer, or serial killer. (Fox) An FBI crime
classification report from 2015 identifies an individual as a mass murderer if he kills four or
more people in a single incident, not including himself, typically in a single
location.(Congressional) The primary distinction between a mass murderer and a spree killer,
according to the FBI, is that the spree killer strikes in multiple locations, though still in a
relatively short time frame. The third type, a serial killer, is distinguished by striking over a
longer time frame, in multiple locations, with opportunity for resting time in between
There are many reasons for the numerous amounts of mass shootings in the recent years.
Some of these reasons include the advances in technology and the accuracy of new age firearms,
mental illness, ineffective gun control laws, new- age video games, lack of parenting and lack for
gun safety. They also include things like social media and bullying that are fairly new to the
The advancements in the modern day firearm are progressive and very extreme. Guns
today are designed to do things never imagined before. They have the precision, accuracy, range

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and power to kill anything or anyone with the plush pull of the trigger. In years past, a gunman
such as the one in the Colorado movie theater shooting, may not have killed as many people and
may not have caused mass shooting because of the fact that the gun misfired, jammed, or the
accuracy of the bullet was off or mistimed. Today, due to gun research and the testing of brands
like Smith and Wesson and Glock in the FBI and US military, guns make fewer and fewer
mistakes and are more accurate than ever. Guns are also becoming more accessible, especially to
younger people or people who may not have as much money. Today, a decent firearm can be
purchased for around $300- $400, which considering its capabilities and advancements is a deal.
Mental illness is another reason for the amounts of gun violence and mass shootings in
America. More and more people are being treated for mental illness than ever before. (No,
Mental Illness is not the Main Cause) As modern day technology advances, there is new health
care and new ways for people to become diagnosed with a mental disorder or disease that have
may not existed 20-30 years ago. (No, Mental Illness is not the Main Cause) By no means are
all mentally ill people violent, however, some go through minor and major forms of depression.
This depression then leads to feeling of wanting to fit it and be loved by all. Some turn to
rehabilitation centers and hospitals to get help. Others turn to things like meditation and the gym
to help them get them through their stages of depression. Unfortunately, some turn to violence
and mass shootings.
Many gun control laws have been put in to effect over the past couple years. These laws
include who is allowed to own a firearm, where they can buy it, the age limit for purchasing a
firearm, and who is allowed to carry a firearm under a concealed carrying license. In general, the
phrase gun control refers to governmental efforts to limit or restrict the production, sale,
possession and use of guns by private citizens. (Congressional) Gun control laws usually

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involve personal firearms such as hand guns and long guns. The right to bear arms is referenced
in the 2nd Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Gun control laws may vary widely according to
region. For example, gun control laws tend to be less restrictive in rural areas than urban areas,
due to the higher number of sportsmen and hunters in rural populations. Some states impose
stricter gun control laws, especially those with urban cities with high crime rates.
Gun control laws cover nearly all aspects of firearm use and possession. They include
waiting periods, background checks, gun permits and registration, bans on certain types of
firearms, possession of guns in school zones and restricted classes on who can own a gun.(Gun
Violence) Waiting periods are time in between a person purchases a firearm until they go and
actually acquire it for themselves. This is put in place so that it gives people some cool off
time for spur of the moment crimes. It gives them time to think about their decision before they
actually go and commit the crime. 97% of the time, the gunman will rethink his decision and not
proceed with the crime. (Fox) Background checks have been established and have been heavily
enforced over the recent years. Background checks restrict who can buy a gun due to your
previous actions with the law. This makes it so people like convicted felons and people with
criminals backgrounds may not go out and purchase a firearm. Bans on certain guns have
restricted the types of guns allowed on the market. These include unregistered or illegal guns.
These illegal guns include guns with the serial number scratched out or missing. There are also
bans on certain types of pistols and automatic rifles for simply being too powerful or deadly for
civilian use. (Gun Violence) There are restricted classes of people who may not own a firearm.
These include convicted felons, minors and illegal aliens. They may not legally possess a firearm
in their name. The ineffectiveness to enforce these rules and regulations of gun control have
undoubtedly led to more gun violence and mass killings. If the rules had been enforced and gun

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control was in full effect, than it is possible that some of the shooting incidents happening across
the nation might not have happened.
The lack of parenting and the lack of gun safety might also to be to blame in some of the
mass shootings that have recently happened. There is and undoubted lack of authority that has
sprung up all over the nation in the past two decades. Lack of authority leads to lack of respect
and a disowning of your parents. Parenting plays a key role in the lives of children and if not
done correctly may lead to serious consequences as seen in the Aurora movie theater incident.
Gun safety plays a very important role in society. Guns are a very helpful but also very
dangerous too to use. If not used correctly, they become a hazard to other people. If people are
informed of the ins and outs of guns and how they are to be used, there would most likely be a
decrease in gun crime. If people are taught, especially parents, to hide their guns in a gun safe or
kept hidden from their kids, it would be harder for people like Adam Lanza to get ahold of a gun,
ultimately leading to less gun violence.
Social media and bullying are two new aspects that have made it easier for people to
engage in violence. Social media is defined as websites and applications that enable users to
create and share content or to participate in social networking. Some common social media sites
are Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. These sites allow people to talk and engage in conversation
to people all around the world. Because of this, sites like these have unfortunately lead to forms
of bullying. It allows kids especially to make fun of each other and treat them like they wouldnt
normally because there is no face-to-face contact. Bullying in some cases allows the victim to
feel hopeless and feel like there is no one on their side. They see no option to but to find some
sort of weapon, whether it be a firearm or not, bring in to school or a public place and find
revenge on the criminal who was bullying them. Before social media, this would not have been a

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problem, which is why social media is being looked at as one of the main causes of gun violence
As Americans, we must take a stand against gun violence. Educating is the most
important thing we can do. Teaching them the ins and outs of what a gun is capable of and how
to use it properly will cut down a lot of confusion and subsequently end some gun violence. We
must also enforce gun control to the point to the point where it is equal for everyone and is
effective, or do away with it all together. There is no point in spending the money and time
trying to enforce it if it is not effective to the public. We must also be more involved in our
research and look more in depth into the signs and effects of mental illness. We must take into
effect all symptoms and diagnose them immediately. If all of these steps are taken, there would
be a severe drop in gun violence in America.

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Work Cited
"Aurora, Colorado Theater Shooting Timeline, Summary and Known Facts." ABC7 Los Angeles.
N.p., n.d. Web. 11 Nov. 2015.
"Congressional Research Service Releases Study of Mass Shootings." N.p., 03
Aug. 2015. Web. 26 Oct. 2015
Fox, James Alan., and Jack Levin. Overkill: Mass Murder and Serial Killing Exposed. New
York: Plenum, 1994. Print.
"Gun Violence - How The US Compares To The Rest Of The World." YouTube. YouTube, n.d.
Web. 27 Oct. 2015.
"No, Mental Illness Is Not the Main Cause of Mass Shootings in America." Mother Jones. N.p.,
n.d. Web. 11 Nov. 2015.
"Sandy Hook Elementary Shooting: What Happened?" CNN. Cable News Network, n.d. Web. 11
Nov. 2015.