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Ian Johnson
Malcolm Campbell
UWRT 1103
December 9, 2015
Gun Crime and Mass shootings: Who is Really Pulling the Trigger?
At some point before heading off to school, Adam Lanza, age 20, killed his mother,
Nancy. He then grabbed three guns from the house: a semi-automatic AR-15 assault rifle and two
pistols; he then proceeds on 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 then shoots through the entrance of the
building and goes on to kill twenty six people, twenty of which were between the ages of five
and ten years old. (Sandy Hook Elementary Shooting) The other six were staff and faculty that
happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Five months earlier, during a midnight screening of Batman: The Dark Night Rises in
Aurora, Colorado, a gunman, dressed in tactical clothing, set off tear gas grenades and shot into
the audience with multiple firearms. Twelve people were killed and seventy others were injured;
the largest number of casualties in a shooting in the United States at the time (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

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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).
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 in 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
situations.
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 and Levin 24) 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 attacks. (Congressional)
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
discussion.

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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,
and power to kill anything or anyone with the pull of a 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 a 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
& 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 amount 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 be diagnosed with a mental disorder or disease that may not
have existed twenty to thirty 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 a feeling of wanting to fit in 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, as well as certain types of
medication too. Unfortunately, some turn to violence and mass shootings.
Many gun control laws have been put into effect over the past couple years. These laws
include regulations for who is allowed to own a firearm, where they can buy it, the age limit for

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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 involve personal firearms such as handguns and long guns. The right to bear arms is
referenced in the Second 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 the time in between a person purchases a firearm until they go
and actually acquire it for themselves. This is put into 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. Ninety seven percent of the time, the gunman will rethink
his decision and not proceed with the crime. (Fox and Levin 26) 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

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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 control was in full effect, then 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 an 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 to use. Without guns, there would be no hunting industry, no personal protection, or
law enforcement. 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
to keep them 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 (No, Mental Illness is not the
Main Cause). Some common social media sites are Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. These

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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-toface 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 but to find some sort of weapon, whether it be a firearm or
not, bring it to school or a public place and enact revenge on the criminal who was bullying
them. Before social media, some of this would not have been a problem, which is why social
media is being looked at as one of the main causes of gun violence recently.
As Americans, we must take a stand against gun violence. Educating is the most
important thing we can do. Teaching Americans 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 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 consideration 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." Reason.com. 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.
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