What Gun Violence Does to Our Mental Health

May 28, 2022 · 223 comments
Sarah (USA)
School shootings and gun violence in general have become much more prevalent and common within the last few decades. Although we mainly focus on those who were physically harmed by these shootings and violence, we tend not focus as much on those who may have suffered mentally due to this all. This is something I never really thought of before, due to focusing mainly only on those who were physically harmed and highlighted on the news the most. Even though these people are important to focus on, the majority of people in these situations are not focused on as much as they should be. They tend to suffer from many mental illnesses, disorders, and other health issues all caused because of these shootings and violent situations. This article really educates the reader on all of the long lasting effects something this traumatic can cause people. Not only do these traumatic events affect those who were directly involved, but it also affects and even changes the community and country as a whole around it. These tragic events instill stress, PTSD, anxiety, worry, depression, fear, and many other mental illnesses, in these people, haunting them for many years. These situations change many people's outlooks and perspectives on places that should be somewhere safe and reassuring they can go. This article intrigued me by how strongly gun violence can affect not only those who first-hand experienced it, but all those around them, the community, and the country overall.
Metro (NY)
Shame most GOP need to permit semi-automatic weapons on the market. Though the Second Amendment constitutionally protects the right to bear arms, but it doesn't say a person needs to carry semi-automatic weapons. PTSD is a legitimate medical condition gun survivors face each day. Very sad when legislation chooses AR 15 guns over children's lives. Family members of the victims and survivors are left to deal with trauma Between the progressive Dems legalizing marijuana with possibly other drugs and right wing nut GOP allowing people to carry military arms on the street with SCOTUS supporting carry guns in NY, we are in for bad times.
Charles Packer (Washington, D.C.)
Journalists get agitated about this gun thing. You can go back to 1930 newspapers and find the same conflict played out. Then, as now, Canada was cited as being more mature about guns. When you compare the actual numbers with other sources of violent death, such as vehicle accidents, guns are no greater burden. It's a burden that can easily be borne by our dynamic society.
Acme Industries (Maui)
So, what is the game plan to stop mass shootings? When I write or call my elected representatives on any topic, no less gun violence, I usually receive no response at all. How would contacting senators or congresspersons in possibly be useful? As there is clearly no way forward to deescalate the US arms race, following mass shootings, I have come to realize the usual outrage, handwringing, and calls to action followed by either no action or no meaningful action is exactly who we are as a country. Lather, rinse, repeat. I am thinking about creating child sized automatic weapons so the kids will have a fighting chance. It will be too bad about the collateral damage from children’s accidental discharge of their AK Juniors but that will be the price of living as free Americans.
NA (Montreal)
I am 100% certain that when a person goes through a traumatic experience they have nightmares about it. I had experienced a traumatic experience in March 1991, that is 31 years ago, and even now I have night mares about it, I dream that I am in a similar situation, I am going through that same experience again in different scenarios, it is just very strange. I do not wake up sweating etc. though but I feel very much in that scene, and it is quite troubling to me. I have shared this with my close relatives, brother and others, and have been told many times that such a thing will never happen again so why is your memory stuck there. Not sure, what actually happens but in my case I feel there is something that is stuck in loop and out of the blue I get a horrible nightmare about it. Many a times I forget it when I wake up and then at other times I remember it and it is a very unhappy memory. I wish these folks can overcome this trauma, some how.
CactusHugger (Way out west)
The current wave of violence and trauma in the US is not just about guns, but about who uses those guns on whom. Reading some of the resources available on the US VA PTSD web link mentioned in the article, I now understand that horror that's engulfed me around Uvalde resulted from the moral injury of the failure of the police to protect our most vulnerable citizens--children (and the efforts to spin the narrative to their benefit). Many of us experienced a similar moral injury regarding George Floyd's murder by the police. Black citizens in Buffalo describe their outrage that the white gunman at Tops was accorded far more safety and dignity at his arrest than so many innocent Black Americans. Restricting access to assault weapons is merely the low-hanging fruit in the fight to restore civility in the world.
Jack Frost (Tel Aviv. Israel)
Gun violence creates trepidation, caution, hesitancy, fear, racial bias, uncertainty, and general negative feelings. We used to live without those emotions but now when for instance we head to the movies, or Disney World, school or any large gathering we find out selves wondering "Are we safe?". We also wonder about those who own or carry guns. Are they going to act out? Are they nut cases waiting to come out of the closet? My neighbor has more than 45 firearms. Recently he sold another batch of more than 50 firearms! Yikes! More than a few neighbors have loaded pistols, rifles and shotguns at home that are readily handy and they're proud of that, some even bragging. The vicious cycle that we can't end is the more violence that occurs the more fearful people become resulting in more vindication of the need for guns. Hence, more guns in circulation and the great possibility of more violence. Worse is the argument that "Well, my neighbor has guns, so does everyone else and I must too!" They joke they are preparing for the Zombie Apocalypse. But it's not a joke because THEY are the zombies. Politicians have listened to the cues and set their agenda to please people who earnestly believe that the only way to prevent violence is have guns. Conservative politicians claim that they will protect your rights to own and keep firearms and protect your constitutional rights and making you safer. The Dems will take your guns away and you'll become a victim. Sadly, you are a victim.
Barbara (Coastal SC)
People often joke that they have PTSD but it's no joking matter. I've had it for over 30 years. Despite extended treatment that continues to this day, I still have debilitating symptoms from time to time, including vivid nightmares, panic attacks, anxiety attacks, depression and physical symptoms related to anxiety. Almost anything can trigger the symptoms, even events that are quite manageable for most people, like a leaky faucet. It doesn't have to make sense. It just happens before I can employ the many coping skills I have developed. We need to push legislators at all levels to pass commonsense laws that will stop at least some of the violence. We will never stop all of it unless we get rid of guns; that's not happening in the near future. But we can stop a lot of it and save hundreds, maybe thousands, of people from life-altering mental illness as well as physical injury and/or death.
CMP (New Hope, Pa)
I'll tell you what it does for me. It makes me what to move to another country.
Guido (Cincinnati)
If we can prove beyond a reasonable doubt that gun violence affects our mental health, we can also prove beyond a reasonable doubt that those who provide, condone and encourage the ammunition, the guns, the political and the financial support are complicit in corroding our moral health. In a distorted reality of greed, hypocrisy and corruption our too venerable yet too vulnerable democracy has been overthrown by the amoral behavior of those who profit at the expense of innocent lives. We are a nation of 330 million people who own 440 million guns. With each new onslaught of gun violence, that number of weaponry goes up. Shame on us.
CAMPY 39 (Behind the Plate)
@CAMPY 39 Not to downplay our gun problems, but I wish people were as upset about the 40,000 people killed on our roads each year as they are about those killed by guns, which kill a similar number, (half of which are suicides.) We tolerate drugged, drunk, gadget-distracted driving. We tolerate speeding, tailgating, weaving, and the like. No, actually we don't tolerate such, we encourage this mostly avoidable carnage by our refusal to enforce the laws, our referring to drunken crashes as merely "accidents". (When a tree blows over in the wind and lands on you, that is an accident.) And we encourage this by having cars with more and larger attention-diverting gadgetry in front of the driver. As to enforcement: how many times when there is a deadly crash do you see noted the driver had six previous D.U.I.s, yet was still driving legally. I recently drove from Texas to California and noted a total of three cops cruising the 1500 miles of mostly interstate. And in California, which has a lower speed limit for trucks, I did not see a single truck from Bakersfield to the Bay Area that was not driving over the speed limit. As to lane speed differentiation: clearly that went out with the dinosaurs. The problem boils down to what is culturally acceptable. When it comes to driving, dangerous behavior and dangerous distracting vehicles are acceptable across the socio-political spectrum. When it comes to guns, there is a distinct socio-political divide.
Mm (New England)
@CAMPY 39 I get your point, but aren't you indeed downplaying the gun problem? Consider intentionality: the gun is made to kill, the automobile is used to get somewhere. The driver who has an accident did not intend to have an accident. The mass shooting murder pointed the gun with intent to kill. And that intent to kill is made all the easier with a military-style assault weapon.
Foundthecat! (Indiana)
Arming my 27 year old 100 lb elementary school niece with a Glock that she would have to babysit every second of the day while class is in session to make sure a curious 3rd grader doesn't get their hands on it is about as stupid as an idea I've ever heard. No person of capable rational thought would consider such to be a socially sane and healthy option that teachers and professors should be turned into armed sentries forced into life and death judgement calls when some gun packing idget shows up on campus open carrying because state law allows such in some places.
Lumberjack Bear (The Great Northwest)
Irma Garcia, a teacher at Robb Elementary, liked classic rock. Her body was found with children still in her embrace, according to her nephew. A fourth grader who survived the attack said that Ms. Garcia and another teacher, Eva Mireles, had saved his and other students’ lives. “They were in front of my classmates to help,” he said. “To save them.” > The deaths of the 19 children and two teachers in Uvalde, Texas, on Tuesday is heart wrenching. It brings tears to my eyes when I think about the fear and helplessness those young children suffered without their mom or dad there to help protect them And I can't imagine the agony that parents go through after the death of their child. Especially something like this ....so callous and senseless ....it must be brutal emotional pain. There's something seriously wrong in a country that continues to accept this year after year with no hope of a foreseeable end and just braces for the next one. It's disgusting.
CAMPY 39 (Behind the Plate)
Mental health? Let's be honest with our children for a change. To paraphrase President Clinton: "It's the internet, Stupid!" A few decades ago more gun regulations would have made a substantial difference. The internet has destroyed that option. Regulations will not stop ghost guns nor will they prevent 3-D printers from turning out these weapons. However, the even more insidious effect of the internet is that it guarantees any individual so inclined that he or she will be able to have their fifteen minutes of fame, of "glory", as well as having such in a way and to a degree never before imaginable. Want attention, want to control what 350 million Americans will hear and see for days on end? Just shoot up a place, kill lots of people, maybe even livestream it, and your fantasy will be realized in a way inconceivable before the internet. Not all scientific discoveries lead to technological benefits for humanity. After all, what are the current Las Vegas odds on somebody's cheap, armed, internet-connected drone taking out the Superbowl? Is nuclear electricity worth the price of nuclear weapons?
CAMPY 39 (Behind the Plate)
@CAMPY 39 If only people were as upset about the 40,000 people killed on our roads each year as they are about guns, which kill a similar number, (half of which are suicides.) We tolerate drugged, drunk, gadget-distracted driving. We tolerate speeding, tailgating, weaving, and the like. No, actually we don't tolerate such, we encourage this mostly avoidable carnage by our refusal to enforce the laws, our referring to drunken crashes as merely "accidents", by having cars with more and larger attention-diverting gadgetry in front of the driver. (When a tree blows over in the wind and lands on you, that is an accident.) As to enforcement: how many times when there is a deadly crash do you see noted the driver had six previous D.U.I.s, yet was still driving legally. I recently drove from Texas to California and noted a total of three cops cruising the 1500 miles of mostly interstate. And in California, which has a lower speed limit for trucks, I did not see a single truck from Bakersfield to the Bay Area that was not driving over the speed limit. As to lane speed differentiation: clearly that went out with the dinosaurs. The problem boils down to what is culturally acceptable. When it comes to driving, dangerous behavior and dangerous distracting vehicles are acceptable across the socio-political spectrum. When it comes to guns, there is a distinct socio-political divide.
Waking up (NYC)
None of this reporting matters to the actual population who continuously votes against gun control laws. They won’t read this or the comments. They’re too busy being mind-controlled with propaganda on FoxNews. Sometimes reading this paper I feel like “What’s the Point?” They’re preaching to the choir.
Foundthecat! (Indiana)
"Oh, we need to do something about mental health," opine the gun people. Okay, gun folks, let's start with evaluating your mental health. Or you think that should happen only after a person does something whacky, like packing their basement full of guns and ammo?
Barb B. (USA)
Guns are never the answer.
Jonathan Katz (St. Louis)
Any soldier who has been in combat has been through worse. Somehow, WWII didn't leave us with a generation of psychological cripples, although it did leave us with many physically crippled.
Richard (Massachusetts)
Those who hold the 2nd amendment sacrosanct and more fundamental than other rights are subjecting the majority of our population to diminished quality of life. Why do I have the right to walk on a crowded street openly displaying a firearm while those around me are left to wonder if I am a "good guy with a gun" or "a bad guy with a gun"?
Foundthecat! (Indiana)
@Richard And by the time a person finds out that the loon packing heat has ill intent, it's too late except to maybe engage in a firefight should you be carrying your own gun. The odds of someone being wounded or killed go up by a factor of nearly 100 when a second gun is introduced into a criminal situation.
Boris and Natasha (97 degrees west)
When my father, a WWII veteran took his own life because he couldn't live with what he'd kept bottled up inside for 20 years, I suffered PTSD, and an episode of severe depression that took several years of recovery. I found it hard to get out of bed, and hard to concentrate, and I hated myself for not being a better son. The pain radiated through my family and through our friends. I was blessed to have considerable support from them, and without their patience, I would have grown to be a nasty piece of work. Healing our society from the immense grief of violence is our most urgent task.
QageDave (Upstate)
When gun defenders talk about the issue of mental illness, I think they have a point - just not the one they claim. If you can’t go without alcohol, you’re considered “alcohol dependent.” The same for drug or nicotine addiction. And yet I’m hearing all these people who get all panicky at even the mention of any kind of gun regulations (even research!) and argue vehemently that guns have *nothing* to do with all the gun deaths in this country. How does such denialism differ from an alcoholic’s claims they don’t have an alcohol problem? Sounds like “gun dependency” to me…
Foundthecat! (Indiana)
@QageDave In 2021 77% of all murders were committed with a firearm. When gun folks blubber that "guns don't kill people", one has to seriously wonder if they are able to connect with reality since guns are the THE weapon of choice for killing precisely because they've been engineered very well to kill people.
Mor (California)
I am in favor of abolishing the Second Amendment and licensing all guns. However, until it happens, I am going to get a handgun for self protection. When I see the human wreckage of the homeless harassing passers-by, talking to themselves, and injecting drugs on the sidewalk, I want to be able to defend myself. What people forget is that in civilized countries, mentally ill people (using the word loosely) are locked away from the rest of us. I used to take the subway in Hong Kong in the middle of the night and feel perfectly safe. I would never take BART in San Francisco or the subway in NYC unless I have a gun or some other form of weapon. Lock up every mentally Ill person who poses a danger to others. Bring back stop and frisk. Put every gun criminal in jail and throw away the key. Until it’s done, passing gun control laws is useless. People want to protect themselves against rampant crime. We have seen in Texas how useless the police are. We are seeing crime skyrocket in San Francisco because of “liberal” prosecutors. So, if the state does not protect its citizens, the citizens have to protect themselves.
Ng (Vermont)
It doesn’t take long to become mentally I’ll when you are homeless. We can “lock up” the mentally provided there are facilities and care takers. Then what? Leave them locked up? Once discharged same problem: no home. Back on the street.
Vince (NY metro)
Conservative gun culture is the drunk neighbor I witnessed at a BBQ brandishing a gun around other neighbors (and children) because their was a rumor (which turned out to be untrue) that there was a domestic dispute that resulted in a shooting 1/2 mile away. My experience with “citizen cops”, as I call them, is a no thanks. I’ve never been afraid of Arabs, Mexicans, or people of color, but show me a bunch of white men with camo, a misinformed interpretation of what they think their “rights” are, and a chip on their shoulder because of “wokeism”, and I’m heading for the hills. I’ll take fewer “self defenders” thanks. Besides, if the government wants your weapon, they’ll pry it out of your hands with their boot on your neck regardless if you have a pulse or not. God bless.
Mor (California)
@Ng we need more long-term mental care facilities, no question about it. And we need laws that allow mentally ill to be locked up or "sectioned" as they call it in the UK, whether they want it or not. Once this is accomplished, the homeless population will shrink to manageable proportion and can be helped by offering them subsidized housing. There is absolutely no proof that housing difficulties cause people to develop paranoid schizophrenia, abuse drugs or become violent. I suspect more than half of the homeless are in fact people who should be locked up permanently. Why do you think random murders by mentally ill don't happen in Europe or Asia with the same frequency? Because dangerously psychotic people are not allowed to roam subways, use sidewalks as bathrooms, or buy guns, for that matter.
Deborah (New Jersey)
Peace out! After 38 years years here, repatriating to UK. Jan 6th, Potential reversal of Roe V Wade and the constant gun worshiping are straws that broke this limy’s bloody back! From the day I arrived, it was rammed down my throat the constant reminder of how free and exceptional the US is…make that “exceptionally violent”. I never did understand the worshiping of the constitution, some rules and ideas that made sense 200 years ago. Any moment I get nervous about selling my house and leaving, another mass shooting reminds me that I’m doing the right thing. The US is on a dark path:(
Me again (Oakland, CA)
Or you could just ignore it, like the conservative Supreme Court justices do. You’ll never see them visiting with the bereaved. They should be required to do so.
Jonathan Katz (St. Louis)
@Me again Their job is to interpret the law, not make it. It is Congress's job to make or change the law, and Congress's and the states' to change the Constitution.
Foundthecat! (Indiana)
@Jonathan Katz Rather naive take on what the SCOTUS does. The entire reason for the conservative packing of the SCOTUS is to overturn what were considered rights and expand certain rights to be able to infringe on other's legal rights and priveleges. The Hobby Lobby decision weaponized religious claims of one party to stomp on another person's legal rights and privileges. Kim Davis tried using her faith as justification to deny others their rights and Alito and Thomas both believe she should've had that right to substitute her faith for the law in the discharge of here county clerk duties. Luckily, SCOTUS let the federal ruling stand as there was not enough justices on the court who wanted to hear the case.
CAMPY 39 (Behind the Plate)
If only people were as upset about the 40,000 people killed on our roads each year as they are about guns, which kill a similar number, (half of which are suicides.) We tolerate drugged, drunk, gadget-distracted driving. We tolerate speeding, tailgating, weaving, and the like. No, actually we don't tolerate such, we encourage this mostly avoidable carnage by our refusal to enforce the laws, our referring to drunken crashes as "accidents", by having cars with more and larger attention-diverting gadgetry in front of the driver. The problem boils down to what is culturally acceptable. When it comes to driving, dangerous behavior and vehicles are acceptable across the socio-political spectrum. When it comes to guns, there is a distinct socio-political divide.
DR (Santa Monica)
Your response to this article is baffling. There is a lot of work done to reduce traffic accidents and laws against using phones while driving, etc… in many states. You really don’t see the difference between a car accident (distraction related or not) and someone shooting people at a school? I find that hard to believe and assume your effort is really an attempt at distraction.
Eleanor Klauminzer (Gig Harbor, WA)
@CAMPY 39 I also find your response puzzling. Actually, deaths due to automobile crashes have declined significantly over the past decades. In 1937 there were 30.8 deaths per 100,000 population; in 2020 the number of deaths was less than half: 12.9 deaths per 100,000, despite the huge increase in the numbers of cars and the miles driven. The reason for the decline is that cars and roads were made much safer, in large part due to government regulations. The success of traffic safety regulation is actually an excellent argument for much enhanced gun safety regulation. It works and it saves lives!
CAMPY 39 (Behind the Plate)
@DR DR, laws are only meaningful when enforced. Otherwise they are no more than dogs doing you-know-what on a hydrant. Dangerous driving laws are very rarely enforced. Perhaps if you actually read my comment you would have seen that nowhere did I even reference school shootings, let alone argue they were the same as car killings.
Permanently Horrified (Nola)
The massacres themselves are horrifying, but the callous and cowardly response from both police and republican leaders have amplified the horror exponentially. I do not think we can come back from this.
Naked Yogi (Milky Way)
Trained and armed professionals didn’t really know what to do, I hardly see how arming teachers would do any good. It’s easy to theorize one’s actions in these situations; it’s quite another how it actually plays out. No matter how you slice it, guns are the problem.
Mary Peacock (Reno, Nevada)
The republicans typically trot out the sorry explanation that gun violence is a mental health issue. Really? The nation is collectively suffering from chronic depression due to the fact that you cannot even go to the grocery store without the risk of getting shot, small children can not go to school without the possibility of getting gunned down, a black man cannot go jogging without getting shot and killed. Over and over “we the people” demand action and get the sound of crickets from our government. Well actually not all of the government only the republicans. So to answer the question “what is gun violence doing to our mental health” nothing good. The gun violence in this country lies squarely on the heads of republicans and they refuse to do anything about it. How long will we let these people ruin the lives of so many Americans by letting guns be purchased by anyone so they can act on their prejudices and end the lives of the innocent?
J. Park (Seattle)
@Mary Peacock and then they cut public health spending whenever possible. It would be funny if it weren’t so tragic. Thanks
Debbie (NA)
It is perhaps time for the 911 phone calls from the children calling for help and the photos of the destroyed lives be made public. What more can be done to shame the GOP into doing the right thing? More guns are not the answer. Why is it that while the USA represents 4% of the world population they own 50% of all civilian weapons? Why is it that mental illness can be found around the world but that mass shootings are the highest in the USA? When will the USA deal with this ? All who vote for the GOP are responsible for this massacre and carnage and will continue to be responsible for as long as this continues.
Michele (Albany NY)
Unfortunately I've cone to believe that these Republican "leaders" have no shame; voting them out is the only way. For that, your suggestion is excellent!
Sue (Oregon)
Actual teacher here, not just horrified, but legit scared of this being my classroom next, my precious students I love so much that, yes, I will be a human shield. But for now I’m buying a baseball bat and placing it near my classroom door and if the time comes, I will fight back.
Jonathan Katz (St. Louis)
@Sue With a baseball bat?
Sue (Oregon)
Yeah, I won’t get far with a bat, but do you have a better idea?
Mark (New York)
As if these murders were not already tragic, what must the survivors in Uvalde be feeling after they repeatedly called 911 and no one came to help?
CAMPY 39 (Behind the Plate)
Mental health? Let's be honest with our children for a change. To paraphrase President Clinton: "It's the internet, Stupid!" A few decades ago more gun regulations would have made a substantial difference. The internet has destroyed that option. Regulations will not stop ghost guns nor will they prevent 3-D printers from turning out these weapons. However, the even more insidious effect of the internet is that it guarantees any individual so inclined that he or she will be able to have their fifteen minutes of fame, of "glory", as well as having such in a way and to a degree never before imaginable. Want attention, want to control what 350 million Americans will hear and see for days on end? Just shoot up a place, kill lots of people, maybe even livestream it, and your fantasy will be realized in a way inconceivable before the internet. Not all scientific discoveries lead to technological benefits for humanity. After all, what are the current Las Vegas odds on somebody's cheap, armed, internet-connected drone taking out the Superbowl? Is nuclear electricity worth the price of nuclear weapons?
CAMPY 39 (Behind the Plate)
@CAMPY 39 If only people were as upset about the 40,000 people killed on our roads each year as they are about guns, which kill a similar number, (half of which are suicides.) We tolerate drugged, drunk, gadget-distracted driving. We tolerate speeding, tailgating, weaving, and the like. No, actually we don't tolerate such, we encourage it by our refusal to enforce the laws, our referring to drunken crashes as "accidents", by having cars with more and more attention-diverting gadgetry in front of the driver.
Foundthecat! (Indiana)
@CAMPY 39 Then let's pass laws that make owning such ghost guns a serious federal and state crime. The gun folks opine that then only outlaws will have such guns. That's right; and they become fair game for arrest and incarceration.
Jonathan Katz (St. Louis)
@CAMPY 39 A good reason to close the internet. At least, outlaw social media.
Kennedy (Colorado)
I no longer feel safe going out to shopping malls, movie theaters, grocery stores, or engaging in events that draw crowds. As a result, I stay to myself most of the time, shop later in the evening, or only attend small group events. I worry about our nation. I worry about children. I worry about the parents and loved ones who have to bury those slaughtered children. There are no words. None of this is good for our mental health—for any of us. Some may be better at staying busy and not thinking about what all of this means for the future of our nation, and our children, but many of us cannot shut it out. It's there, every day, all the time, down the street, on the next block. Even if we do not watch the news constantly, we cannot avoid it. It is EVERYWHERE. And when a sick minority has the power to influence and control the safety and security (or lack thereof) of the majority of sane people in this nation, we are headed down a very scary path. Read the history of Hitler's rise and you will understand why many of us are feeling deeply disturbed and scared. Further, militias are alive and well in our nation, and they are threatening us all. Less than 1/3 of Americans own guns. Less than 1/3 of Americans want less gun regulation. What is wrong with this picture?? Wake up, folks. This is not a good trajectory. The handwriting is on the wall—we are repeating history.
George Orwell (USA)
The gun violence doesn't disturb me as much as the hysterical, liberal frenzy to take away our rights.
just someone (Oregon)
@George Orwell -- I suppose I AM hysterical. Not sure I'm "liberal", depends on the definition. Frenzied? No, measured, rational, logical, methodical. Your rights? Please I want you to have rights, and I want rights too. I applaud and respect your rights, that is until they kill me. Then I lost MY rights. You see how that works? You have a right to live, and so do I. You may choose to use a dangerous device (I do too- my car, for one), though I would say it's actually a privilege (ie. it's not a natural inherent law such as breathing, but a joy you earn by being a thinking sane adult). I am allowed the privilege of driving until I kill someone. You may have a gun, but when someone uses one to kill many people for no particular reason (is there ever a reason to mow people down?), then we must question that privilege. This is a measured response, not a frenzied one.
Steve (US)
@George Orwell Which rights? The right to walk into schools and shoot a classroom full of 9 to 10 year olds? I can do without such rights.
J. Park (Seattle)
@George Orwell Fascinating that you would choose to use Orwell’s name. Orwellian, actually.
Michael Kittle (Vaison la Romaine, France)
Common sense and good judgment will eventually result in my America following the example of Australia and New Zealand and abolish private ownership of guns. Never give in to ignorance and somehow find the courage and energy to bring the Supreme Court to its senses!
Carl (Lansing, MI)
@Michael Kittle This is not a Supreme Court issue. The is a legislative issue. Unfortunately, the federal legislature in the United States of America is totally functional. We have an 18th century constitution, I'll equipped to deal with 21st century realities. Until that changes, this country will continue to be in a state of politically divisive chaos.
JimmySerious (NDG)
t's more than burying our future, so many traumatized kids who don't die are going to present a whole new set of problems as they grow into adults. We have no way of knowing how it will manifest itself or in whom. The only thing we know for sure is, Republicans are doing unspeakable damage to America.
ND (Kingston, NY)
I am a trauma specialist (a Diplomate of The American Academy of Experts on Traumatic Stress) and the truth of the matter is that unless we remove the stressors: unregulated gun use and assault weapons, hate mongering by unregulated "news" outlets, we will continue to fuel the PTSD that is compromising our mental health. Here's something you can do, then read on. https://sign.moveon.org/petitions/ban-assault-weapons-now-demand-an-executive-order-while-the-senate-dawdles?share=4da4f4a7-c696-4fd5-8f07-cee2df40cc63&source=c.fwd&utm_source=c.fwd Living in fear means the body is hyper-vigilant and its stress hormones attack the body over time and impact the mind's decision making processes. We can't down-regulate the nervous system and induce calm when the possibility of assault is increasing. To suggest that we can help our children feel safe without serious gun regulation is inaccurate. That said, there are certainly stress reduction practices that are imperative to know and which should be taught in schools, and there are less invasive therapies than psychedelics and medications to address PTSD such as the highly effective EMDR, Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing. We use this modality worldwide to address the effects of acute stress so it doesn't become PTSD later. https://www.emdrhap.org/content/ Arm yourselves with knowledge and good practices, approach the world with kindness, and keep working toward change.
GJW (Rocky Mountains)
As an educated, independent, older single woman…with no intention of carrying a weapon…I am simply “acceptable collateral damage” when it comes to Republican gun lovers in this country…and Joe Manchin, of course. Two brave woman teachers ( also acceptable collateral damage to these corrupt lawmakers and Gun Lobbies) gave their lives for their students in Uvalde while armed male law enforcement were too scared to go into their classrooms for fear of being shot.
Foundthecat! (Indiana)
@GJW Don't worry, though. The NRA is fighting hard for the right of teachers to be able to have a face-to-face firefight with some tortured soul that has decided they don't care if they live or die and want to put a spectacular exclamation point on their own bloody demise.
Reasonable Parrot (Amazon Rain Forest)
We also might stop glorifying war as if it is a good thing. Wars might be necessary at times, though just wars are rare. If we want to change our culture, we need to change our thinking and views around war. As an example, we should not glorify war and war heroes, but see these men and women as only doing their duty. That there is no glory or happiness in killing of the enemy. That violence should not be normalized under any circumstances. If we start with such changes, the next generation will be in a better state mental health than most of us today. Like anything good, it will take time. And like all journeys, whether real or of the mind, it starts with a first step.
Michele (Albany NY)
Agreed. I had a conversation a while ago with a conservative colleague who is a dad, and I asked him why violence is acceptable (eg in his son's video games) but sexual content is bad, considering that violence is the worst in humanity and sexuality is a normal human function. All he could say is that since so much of this country has been built on and by violence, it's ingrained in our culture. It would be far less harmful to see two consenting adults having raucous sex than to have your kids shoot other people in first person shooter games. But that's not our culture. And so we suffer from vastly skewed values.
Gibs (TX)
As someone who lives 80 miles east of where this occurred in TX - I agree 100% that these incidences take a massive toll on all of our well-being. We know several people who directly lost children in this mass shooting. This has been a soul crushing two weeks (including the shooting in NY state - and going back much further than that). We all love our children and adults who were murdered for no other reason than the color of their skin - it’s senseless. With all of this in mind - it drives me bonkers that these events are used regularly in this paper and others to score political points. This kind of divisiveness doesn’t help anyone whatsoever. What I think that people on the “left” miss is that the 2nd amendment isn’t about guns - it’s about the inalienable right to defend yourself, the ones you love - and even those that you don’t even know. We are all humans, and we all contain the basics of humanity- and that includes the propensity to kill each other - in other words, we aren’t much more highly evolved than any other animal species on this planet. I wish that wasn’t the case. I’m rambling here - but I’m also heart broken and don’t know of any other way to express my sheer sadness around what’s going on in our country/world - and there’s plenty of blame to go around, regardless of your politics. We live in a sick, sick society.
Chris R (Bethesda, MD)
It’s not that complicated: Laws that grant the ability of an 18 year old to purchase a semiautomatic rifle, drum magazines, and hollow point ammo allow a dejected, isolated individual to kill dozens in minutes. Raising the minimum age of purchase to 25 will give that individual 7 more years to work through their problems without killing others.
Kennedy (Colorado)
@Gibs Please stop equating wanting to save American lives due to gun violence with "politicizing" guns. Stop it. They are not the same, and the "right's" effort to equate them is helping no one, and will only lead to more killing of innocent people and children. I'm just sick of this kind of language. We are all sick about this. Our nation is sick. Wake up and do something about it rather than accuse those who are trying to find remedies of being "political." Stop it.
Foundthecat! (Indiana)
@Gibs I've actually read the 2A. No where does it claim there is an individual right to bear arms indiscriminately. In fact the very first four words state unequivocally the purpose of the 2A and the next seven words, "being necessary to the security of a free State," state why there is a collective right. A true texualist or orginalist would take those words literally but Scalia's Heller decision puts on a rather fantastic display of mental gymnastics to dismiss the first ll words of the 2A as if they don't exist at all.
CAMPY 39 (Behind the Plate)
Mental health ? Let's be honest with out children for a change. To paraphrase President Clinton: "It's the internet, Stupid!" A few decades ago more gun regulations would have made a substantial difference. The internet has destroyed that option. Regulations will not stop ghost guns nor will they prevent 3-D printers from turning out these weapons. However, the even more insidious effect of the internet is that it guarantees any individual so inclined that he or she will be able to have their fifteen seconds of fame, of "glory", as well as having such in a way and to a degree never before imaginable. Want attention, want to control what 350 million Americans will hear and see for days on end? Just shoot up a place, kill lots of people, maybe even livestream it, and your fantasy will be realized in a way inconceivable before the internet. Not all scientific discoveries lead to technological benefits for humanity. After all, what are the current Las Vegas odds on somebody's cheap, armed, internet-connected drone taking out the Superbowl? Is nuclear electricity worth the price of nuclear weapons?
Robert (Out West)
Sigh. It’s the guns, okay? It’s the guns. Yes the Internet this, yes the Internet that, yes culture of violence and video games and blablabla. But you cannot shoot an actual human being with a video game or a stupid video or even 4Chan. What you’re arguing boils down to the same old dodge: we need to do more about mental health! Neoliberalism has done stole our Values! Once upon a time we lived next door to Ozzie&Harriet! Well, we didn’t. And Ricky Nelson went off to play gunfighters. And don’t tell me that they can’t be regulated, ghost guns and all. If we can get into the software Iran used for its nuke program, we can darn skippy get into some semi-literate yahoo’s PC when he starts downloading gun plans. We just don’t want to bad enough. It’s The Guns.
SA (Massachusetts)
@Robert Yes, Robert. It's. The. Guns. And that brings me to another segment of people who are traumatized--people like me who cannot fathom how Republicans can keep saying "it's not the guns we need more guns we need more guns we need more guns....." I am astounded by their despicable position on this. Just astounded. Their hatred of the opposing party has made them insane. I am not joking. Ted Cruz and his ilk are insane. We are so over as a nation.
Someone (Somewhere)
I live in a politically divided area that is pretty evenly spilt. There are others besides the MAGA crowd. I used to teach and may again in the future. Living here is a lesson in tolerance and balance but when people tell me school shootings are due to video games violence and how teachers need guns—not to mention the rampant book banning, I can’t help but wonder about the downward slide to fascism. Fox and Carlson are not the only demon in town. Also when I see police break up homeless encampments, harass mutual aid workers and then fail to protect DV victims (I am one), I think of this and start trying to plot a way to move out of the country. https://www.nytimes.com/2005/06/28/politics/justices-rule-police-do-not-have-a-constitutional-duty-to-protect.html
Bernard (Europe)
Why the amazement? We all know the mental state in the USA for centuries - guns always protected slavery, racism, the extinguishing of native people. Mass shootings are the legacy of the USA, the 'legal' legacy, even if it went against laws, moral and religion. And the so called dominant culture celebrated it all in the open - with racism for over 400 years; with the distorted interpretation of the 2nd Amendment that speaks of 'regulated militia' in the 18th century, not a bunch of gunloving individuals; with extreme violent Hollywoodmovies for over 100 years; with the ignorant individualism that left 1 million people to die of Covid and kills over 30.000 people every year of gunviolence. Let us not be surprised, it is (for a big part) a paranoia society and violence is so deeply rooted that being numb to the deaths is in the genes of the USA. This part of the US does not care about other countries having far 10-20 times fewer gundeaths. They celebrate carrying guns, as part of their identity, and every death makes their case and convinces them of the need of weapons. It is the world upside down but it is their worldview. Jesus never carried a gun or other weapons, but he was brought down and crucified by Roman 'organised enemy militias'. Each gundeath is an image and replica of what happened to Christ.
Kennedy (Colorado)
@Bernard May I remind you that 1/3 of Americans do NOT own guns, and the vast majority of Americans support extensive gun regulation. It is minority rule (in the Senate) in Washington that is preventing our country from taking the bull by the horns and solving this once and for all. Again, the vast MAJORITY of Americans do not own or love guns, as you suggest. Look at the stats.
Angela (Midwest)
I was recently walking through a high end department store and then a high end grocery store. Not a security guard in sight. The thought did cross my mind - what if someone who follows Tucker Carlson decides to start shooting at the "elites" who shop at these places? My friend assured me not to worry, they are only targeting Blacks, Gays, Jews, and children in schools.
HollyGearhart (PNW)
"Somewhere someone has it worse..." True but we Americans continue to say these things as we continue to sweep this kind of tragedy under the rug. Yet more of this happens, and more of us grow more and more numb. That someone who has it worse than you do --- there will always be this person. What about your mental health? I am numb. I am glad my son is out of school. How long does it take to pass the numb stage to full blown clinical depression? And for some the purchase of a fire arm?
Anonymous (USA)
My father had PTSD after going to war. He self medicated and lived with alcoholism his entire life for doing his duty to his country. It disrupted his life and every other life that he had contact with. We are creating generations of people who will suffer mentally from the gun war now raging in an America which is less and less safe. Their collective PTSD will be the tsunami that affects everyone they come in contact with. Just as the Republicans became a one issue party on abortion, the Democrats need to become the one issue party on gun safety and regulation. Then maybe, just maybe there is hope for this country.
Horace Greeley (New York, NY)
I’m suffering mental anguish and am going to sue Governor Abbott.
kitty (Cls)
@Horace Greeley I think I will join u, best idea I heard all week!!
MM (Australia)
Mass shootings and endless gun violence in the US, also dostresses communities abroad. America, the 'land of the free', is crippled by constitutional nostalgia, and by what many see as a misunderstanding of the Second Amendment. It's infuriating watching on as the same crisis repeats itself, and greedy, gutless politicians respond with nothing but 'prayer'. The NRA is an evil blight on humanity. Murdoch's FOX network is also complicit in the problem. This manipulative news machine amplifies the twisted messages of Republicans who are financially dependent on dirty cash paid to them by the NRA. As long as the NRA's money continues to buffer the pockets of corrupt politicians, the status quo will remain. FOX will propagate nonsense regarding rights to bear arms, and people will endorse politicians who will manipulate the law for the community to do so. Guns will continue to circulate, and 'law abiding' citizens will purchase guns legally, only to turn into 'bad guys' when they snap and kill dozens of innocent people. America is road blocked. It needs the global community to intervene, in order to change policy, and to save lives. Other nations must ramp up rhetoric, and consider sanctioning the US until it changes gun laws, and starts considering the protection of innocent people.
flower (earth)
It’s called terrorism. We have a law inscribed not our founding charter that enables mass murder, suicide and terrorism. Surely we’re intelligent enough to make changes to this law that allows people to protect themselves while keeping deadly weapons away from mass murderers and terrorists? Tell me we’re smarter than this. We did put a man on the moon …
Kate Egan (Boston)
How can Americans be so selfish? Who wouldn’t give up their assault weapons for those beautiful innocent children to be alive? It is all about the individual not the good of the community. I had to travel to Texas recently and truly guns are everywhere. No desire to ever return. I despair for my grandchildren and the only credible option is to leave the country. Many young American women don’t want to bring children into such a dangerous country. Truly America is morally bankrupt.
Kennedy (Colorado)
@Kate Egan Don't you mean: how can SOME Americans be so selfish? I don't know a single person who doesn't want gun regulation, and the only person I know who owns guns lives in MN and uses them for hunting. He agrees with gun regulation, even though he is a supporter of gun rights. This is not an "ALL Americans" issue. This is a minority rule issue. As long as the Senate allows 1/3 of the population overrule the other 2/3rds through vetos and lack of support for sensible gun regulation, there is no hope for change.
Watcher (The Hellscape known as America)
Violence destroys people and societies. It rips apart who you are, makes it so you don't trust anyone, even yourself. I've lived with so much of it personally, and then there's all the violence all around me, all around all of us, all the time. I don't know what to do, I wish there was some way to make it stop, but there doesn't seem to be. A bloody tide just keeps washing over us, over and over again, unceasing. I keep thinking about those babies in that classroom in Uvalde, that little girl smearing herself with her friends blood, and I am in horror. Again. Those poor kids.. and every news report reminds me of my own horrifically violent childhood. There is so much trauma and pain in this country. I have taken to wondering how much more all of us can take. I do know that this is no way to live--violence without end; all of us awash in death and hatred. This country is coming apart and I feel like I'm coming apart with it.
Someone (Somewhere)
Earlier this week I corresponded with a former graduate professor of mine who is usually rather stoic and cool-headed. He expressed heart wrenching dismay at this tragedy but also the Christian-fascist trajectory this country is on. I echo Steve Kerr’s outrage. My own horrific my bad experiences—including the abysmal “domestic violence support” and being told to call the police while this link below affects people and I wonder why I pay taxes so cops can drink bottled water in front of an active school shooting. What twisted charade episode of the Matrix are we in? And beneficiaries of privilege, just don’t right now.
Mrs_I (Toronto, Canada)
You now have a nation of people walking around with PTSD as if they are war veterans. They have witnessed war in their classrooms, supermarkets, churches, synagogues, cinemas, outdoor gatherings.... have I left any location out? Can you imagine those child survivors ever forgetting seeing their classmates dead beside them, their bodies absolutely mutilated beyond recognition, blood on the floor, on the walls, terrified unending screams. I keep thinking of that incredible 11 yr old girl who had to resort to smearing her dead friend's blood all over her so she too could look dead and the gunman could leave her alone. Her dead friend's blood. Just sit with that image in your head. That girl will have that torturous moment replaying in her head for her whole life now. She can never escape it. It is incomprehensible that lawmakers keep allowing this trauma to happen to these children and citizens keep voting these lawmakers in. Blood is on them both.
C (NY)
I was raised by 2 people from NYC. I was taught from an early age to evaluate the environment and the people around me for risk potential. Not in those words. I think the words were something along the lines of "Don't be stupid". When it is how you grow up, you do not think of it as unusual. There are always "bad people". Some of them are visible if you look. Some of them are located in predictable places, or take advantage of predictable environments or circumstances. Avoid those when you can. No PTSD. This is different. This is (usually) a single disturbed person intending to make as big a disaster as they can, with a weapon they chose for that effect. Supporting the people who survived seems logical. We know how this can affect them. And we know that there is no political will to remove their weapons or lock them up before they kill.
B n b (Planet Earth)
There have already been over 200 mass shootings in the US this year. Yet after each mass shooting, the Republicans refuse to budge. They know full well that there will be more mass shootings. Yet they don’t care. They just make feeble excuses and send their “thoughts and prayers”. There is no cure to this level of selfishness and stupidity, not found anywhere else in the developed world. If there is a cure, the trauma could be contained and there would be time and hope for the collective wounds to heal. But sadly there is none in this country.
Elizabeth Thomas (Bluemont, VA)
News media anchors/reporters are subjecting children to more trauma when they interview them for the nightly news. Children must be off-limits.
Chris R (Bethesda, MD)
Don’t think it’s useless. It’s a first person account of the trauma the endured. I also think they should start publishing the images of the crime scene. There’s no reason the country that permits this should be allowed to just see the sanitized version of the children escaping through the window. Show the graphic images and let people reconsider if they need an ar-15 variant.
Ng (Vermont)
We do not allow our grandchildren to watch the news. How to explain that adults will do nothing—nothing—to prevent the slaughter of children in their classrooms
Victorious Yankee (The Superior North)
Great. More useless prayer. How about we try sensible gun reform like a complete assault weapons ban and full background checks instead of pleading to an imaginary god?
lisa delille bolton (nashville tn)
@Victorious Yankee both
A (On This Crazy Planet)
Shame on every American who doesn't vote and vote Blue. The Republican elected officials are denying their constituents safe and healthy communities. No one recovers from these massacres. No one.
Scottsticklin (Birch Bay, WA)
I haven’t been touched by a mass shooting in any direct way but I find it shameful and depressing that we won’t protect our children from guns (or the effects of climate abuse). That’s the offal burger we’re handing our kids. I’m so proud.
John (MA)
I am a first responder and when the news of Uvalde broke it was numbing. Then the news about the botched response broke the numbness into seething anger, knowing from our training how unspeakably bad the resoonse was. Little kids begging for help on 911 for an hour!! I dont know how much lower this country can go. Guns ARE the problem, and the "good" guys with guns did nothing, proving once again that more guns will never be the answer. Thanks for a good article, and an anonymous space to vent. When will we learn to love our children?
SA (Massachusetts)
@John You hit the nail on the head. Guns ARE the problem. Even supposedly 'trained' people may not respond in a rational manner. When I hear things like, "well, it's dangerous to ride the subway so if everyone had guns they'd be able to kill their attackers" I get a little more PTSD. You know, yourself, that a person needs to have day to day familiarity with using a weapon to be able to use it effectively. The general public absolutely does not fall into that category. Schoolteachers certainly do not fall into that category. Small town police don't fall into that category, and on top of that they seem to have no clue what to do. The only people who fall into that category are 'swat' type teams and military. Guns are the problem. The Republicans think more guns is the answer. I am so tired.
kfm (USVI)
Answer the question: Who are we? Really.
B n b (Planet Earth)
There have already been over 200 mass shootings in the US this year. Yet after each mass shooting, the Republicans refuse to budge. They know full well that there will be more mass shootings. Yet they don’t care. They just make feeble excuses and send their “thoughts and prayers”. There is no cure to this level of selfishness and stupidity, not found anywhere else in the developed world. If there is a cure, the trauma could be contained and there would be time and hope for the collective wounds to heal. But sadly there is none in this country.
Christopher (Brooklyn, NY)
The dearth of comments on this article compared to the others on mass shootings shows how little mental health is regarded in this country.
Ng (Vermont)
Mental health is a concern in other nations too. But only in the USA are military style assault weapons easily accessible. Only in the USA are children slaughtered in their classrooms over and over and over again. And btw Republicans consistently defund mental health resources.
Better Must Come (Toronto Canada)
To buy a military weapon using your 2nd Amendment rights, do you need to prove you're a member of a well-regulated militia that's protecting America's national sovereignty? Or is it OK to just be some guy who wants a military weapon to randomly kill people?
Mor (California)
A hundred people are killed every day in Ukraine. Among the victims are children, some brutally tortured before they were shot. How are Ukrainians coping with the violence? There are mental health non-profits offering counseling to people in Ukraine and their relatives abroad, and I just contributed to one of them. But I am sure that despite the horror daily inflicted upon them, Ukrainians are coping better than Americans. Why is it so? Why are Americans so uniquely fragile? Why does this country have a disproportionate number of mentally ill cluttering its sidewalks and attacking passers-by? Why did the shooter in Uvalde went on a rampage instead of rebelling like teenagers do in other countries - by getting drunk or leaving his hometown? Blaming guns alone is not enough. This country has a crisis of mental health stemming from lack of resilience. Are Americans only now discovering that the world is not a safe place? Well, guess what. It isn’t. Perhaps the US should look to other countries and try to figure out how and why they are doing better in coping with trauma despite the lack of resources.
Karen (Bay Area)
Nor, I agree with some of your points. And yet, it’s simply incorrect to say this is not a gun issue. Other countries do not have guns on the order of magnitude that we do. An utterly corrupt Supreme Court in 2008 gave its corrupt blessing to the owning of personal armories. Our corrupt republicans and complicit democrats have done nothing. Right wing media and right wing lobby organizations grease the skids for bribed politicians to refuse to regulate weapons of war. The worst side effect of all this gun violence is becoming inured to it. An unwillingness to blame the gun violence on too many and too dangerous guns is a dangerous turning of the other cheek. You sound like an intelligent man. Don’t let the evil supporters of personal WMD diminish your compassion.
Ng (Vermont)
The USA is not a war zone. There is no need for anyone to own a military style assault weapon. There is no need for our children to fear getting gunned down in their classrooms.
Kat Willie (Tucson)
The placement of sleep aid medication advertisement popups in the middle of this article speaks volumes about media, news, and capitalism. Addictive drama and Trauma is profitable.
Kate (Chicago)
Turning away, tuning out because “it didn’t happen to me so it doesn’t affect me” is the wrong thing to do, cold and irresponsible.
Chris R (Bethesda, MD)
Couldn’t you say that about every tragedy in the world? Have you advocated for victims of the crisis in darfur? The Pakistani women who are abused daily? The Syrians?
SA (Massachusetts)
@Chris R What is your point? We live in the U.S. There isn't that much that we can do about horrors in other countries except express our opinions and support boycotts. The horror here is that we should be able to fix our own horrors. A good majority of people in this country, including many gun owners, want to end private ownership of these assault type weapons. It's what the majority wants, yet we cannot make it happen.
Ng (Vermont)
Didn’t Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh describe Bethesda as a “city plagued by gun violence, gang violence and drug violence” Are your children safe from gun violence?
Jim Dwyer (Bisbee, AZ)
It would be interesting to see the NRA reaction if someone would wander into the NRA convention carrying an AK 47 looking just like any other conventioneer, but who happened to be the father of one of the dead Texas school children, and began spraying bullets around the convention, hitting Trump and Cruz including others. Would there be a funeral for Trump and Cruz? Can't wait.
Public (Health)
The fear and PTSD is a feature, not a bug. Look at who is funding the NRA. It is gun manufacturers and likely Russia. Both have something to gain by ensuring the USA is filled with terror, and that our social fabric is ripped apart. It benefits gun makers because they sell more guns when people are brainwashed into thinking they must “defend” themselves; and they are also closely connected to white supremacists who use terrorist tactics and encourage gun hoarding. Gun sales go up after each mass shooting. Making sure people live in fear of gun owners is a large part of NRA strategy and even one way they keep elected officials in line. And I’m sure Putin is thrilled every time a school or church or grocery store or movie theatre is shot up, as it’s part of his plan to destabilize and destroy our country.
MRG (Boston)
Feeling that those who now control our government are unwilling to do anything about this nightmare is devastating. They call themselves pro-life but they don’t care about the lives that are lost. They don’t care about our children living in fear. They care only about the votes of a minority with a perverse love of guns and about the money they get from gun manufacturers, whose profits increase every time there is a new massacre. It makes you lose all faith in the future of this country.
jimerson (Seattle)
Empathy is evidence of sanity. Those who don't have it aren't sane. They're not right in the head. They're just numb, so empty inside they're barely even alive. All they consist of is their ambition and their anger. Only the toughest people have the strength and the courage to let themselves feel pain -- their own and other people's. The truth is, mentally ill people don't kill people. Angry, impotent, empathy-deficient people with access to high-powered weapons of mass destruction kill people. All the time, in America. It just takes money, means, and opportunity. And a lot of effort and forethought put into strategic planning. Look at the Houston NRA convention, scheduled for Memorial Day so as to ironically trivialize other people's sacrifices. So, when does the mental illness kick in? When they pull the trigger or when they buy the gun? And who actually pays the hundreds or thousands of dollars for the killers' weapons? Cash or credit? If the Uvalde killer had been white and had been apprehended and brought to trial, you can be sure some Republican would have claimed he was justified because he acted in "self-defense." After all, there were police outside with guns who wanted to shoot him! Good thing he had a couple AR-15s handy for protection! They've said just such things before, and worse. I sometimes wonder what separates the mindset of the killers from those of the gun-idolaters who appease and enable them. Maybe just a fistful of ammo?
DJ (East Bay)
Some crucial resources to help if you are struggling. There is a difference between trauma and severe/chronic stress. But all can have major effects on physical, mental and spiritual health. The best help there is - The Body Keeps the Score by Bessel van der Kolk Widen the Window by Elizabeth Stanley Waking the Tiger and Healing Trauma by Peter Levine The Pocket Guide to Polyvagal Theory by Stephen Porges Books ny Deb Dana Tara Brach’s podcast and teachings. All of these folks have lots of interviews on YouTube. And find therapists who are trained by these people. (Not psychiatry) These people saved my husband’s life - and consequently - my own.
Avatar (New York)
I am traveling overseas and the question I am often asked is, “Why can’t the United States control gun violence?” I respond, “Because the Republican Party is bought and paid for by the NRA and the gun lobby.” When I return home I will not ride the subway, I will not travel to any state, all red, that has enabled unrestricted gun ownership such as Texas. I will watch my back even in my own backyard. Widespread gun ownership has not made us safer; it has made us fearful for our lives in our own cities and states. We are all victims of the Republican love affair with guns, guns, guns, including weapons of war which have no purpose other than to kill multiple people.
ABC (Flushing)
Would you vote for Trump if he convincingly promised to end the gun problem? To require background check?
Nicole (Connecticut)
@ABC Never. He’s a fan of the NRA and lies constantly.
Gordon (NJ)
Gun violence is a good term for misleading people. First let us understand violence and the urge to kill which lurks in all of god's children. Once we understand this, we can look at what it means to add guns to the equation and see that we are all guilty for not realizing, as the rest of the world already has, that society and guns do not mix. If we don't love our children more than guns, we will not have a future worth living. We see that the cops are afraid of assault rifles. As well they should be. No amount of money is pay enough, and no training good enough, to put these men in harm's way while preserving the right of a boy to have such a weapon. We should all be ashamed of what we all have let happen.
George (Rochester, NY)
Lately I've been wondering if in fact we should view PTSD as a social contagion. If you are traumatized, especially as a child while your brain is still developing, you are possibly more likely to traumatize others if left unchecked. Trauma takes different forms. We are all going through a collective trauma.
John LeBaron (MA)
All American mass shootings rob a piece of my mental well-being, but the reality of witnessing little children being mowed down in their schools is particularly galling, and the gall never goes away. I am not even a direct victim, nor have I experienced such mayhem up close ever in my life. Yet I grieve I can't imagine the psychological drama inflicted on small children who witness and survive such mayhem. Nor can I grasp the long-term effects on their families and communities. What I now know for sure is that it is not safe to be a school child in America, anywhere. I fault the gun lobby, the second Amendment apologists and the Republican party for having reduced the country to such a state of morbid tension. Republican leaders in particular now add outright evil to their well-earned reputation for cowardice. Little else can explain their feckless stonewalling of any and all constructive resolution to the rampant gun violence that they enable. Most galling, perhaps, is their sanctimonious hypocrisy about an embryo's "right to life" while they simultaneously enable the assassination of their own living children.
Brooklyncowgirl (Down in the Pines of NJ)
As someone who has fortunately never been directly affected by the plague of gun violence sweeping this country, what gnaws at me is the feeling of hopelessness, that there is simply nothing I can do. That's not exactly true. I live in a swing district in a blue state so as a citizen my vote could help drive one gun rights Republican out of office if my contacting my Congressman fails to persuade him. I can demonstrate. I can try to engage people both in person and online who are open to persuasion. The bottom line is that those of us who are sick of a minority of deeply disturbed individuals forcing their agenda on the majority of the people in this country are going to have to vote like the fanatics on the other side. There is no other choice.
MIMA (Heartsny)
My grandkids are all school children. And the police would not even protect them by going in when there is an active shooter? I don’t know if I should cry, be angry, contact my govt representatives, keep speaking to my grandkids about guns, try to talk my husband out of deer hunting, protest as I did in March, 2018 in Washington DC March for Our Lives, pray for increased mental health resources, keep voting Democratic, etc, etc, etc….. What, what, what can we do to protect kids and others from guns? Wake up America! Our children are being murdered! So are plenty of others! Other countries are snickering at us - with good reason. So sick of feeling helpless while funerals just keep going on and lifelong disabilities from guns!
Ng (Vermont)
I am heart sick as well. I have grandchildren.
David (Grass Valley, Ca)
I agree that the proliferation of American guns can be explained as a “mental health crisis.” But Gov. abbot and his law enforcement experts just don’t understand what that actually means. It’s a mental health crisis when people think they need AR-15 type weapons to be “safe” or “free”. It’s a mental health crisis when elected officials cannot correctly assign priority of children’s and teachers’ lives over access to these weapons. It’s a mental health crisis when all these officials rally around a political party’s narrative when communicating with the public after a murder event. It’s a mental health crisis when everyone involved (the entire nation) concludes that NOTHING can be done to protect citizens from these murderous events. Yes, it’s a mental health crisis. Our mental health is deteriorating daily. We Americans are crazy. Just ask the rest of the world.
Bill (SF)
As an expatriate, every time I return home and get off the flight I immediately feel safer and more relaxed knowing that no one is armed. I can go to the mall, cinema, anywhere without wondering whether I might be gunned down. The widespread presence of guns has a chilling effect, fosters fear and distrust, and tears at the very fabric of their society. Most Americans don’t realize how much, because they haven’t experienced the peace of mind that those in gun-free countries take for granted.
Pragmatist (Greer,SC)
Very good article. I’m early 60s, never been in a shooting incident, but these massacres affect me greatly. I can’t sleep at night while thinking of the kids trying to be quiet and waiting for their turn and smearing blood on themselves during the Uvalde massacre. Columbine and Newtown had me arguing for gun control and background checks which only served to alienate me from the pro gun culture in my sphere. Mother Emanuel AME Church massacre caused me to drive across state to lay roses and try to express my love for those beautiful fellow South Carolinians murdered due to racist hate. My wife and I are outraged and sad, helpless and depressed. I’m retiring now so I can deal with our crazy time. I think I’ll get active..
Nicole (Connecticut)
@Pragmatist Thank you! America needs your voice. Your response was one of the ones that give me a glimmer of hope.
SA (Massachusetts)
@Pragmatist You live in a state where your voice might matter. I'd be preaching to the choir here. I read an article a few years back where a Black police officer in SC talked about how he assumed every car he pulled over had a gun in it and how he dealt with that reality. I can't stand this 'reality' any more. It's not just the assault-style rifles--which should be outlawed--it's the whole 'gun culture' thing. Hunting rifles I can understand. Hand guns in homes I can almost understand, but I think they cause more problems than they solve. But guns in cars? Guns in handbags? I was at a national park once, and a guy on a motorcycle had a gun in a holster strapped to his waste. Why did he need that? It was obvious he wasn't going camping where he might need to shoot a bear or something--did he really need a gun to take in a few scenic vistas? He looked like a dangerous idiot. I mean, what sort of country is this?
Lynna (New Orleans)
Even beyond simply reading the horrifying headlines so many Americans live with gun violence daily in their communities. In February this year I was driving home at 4 pm two blocks from the school I teach at in the Treme neighborhood. While stopped at a light a man 20 feet away from me opened fire. He had a handgun and emptied an entire clip shooting behind me from a sidewalk across the street. I and another vehicle in front of me went to the right lane turning quickly to get far away from the gunman. School children went running in the same direction. It was insane but commonplace now in New Orleans. Two days later our school locked down because there was a man shooting on a street outside of the school. It was one o'clock in the afternoon. The next day, a woman in my gated apartment complex was murdered in her car by a "hit" arranged by a boyfriend at 5:30 am, a building over from me while I slept. I didn't read about these events, I was within 200 yards of each event. My husband and I have decided to move, not just from our violent city, but from this country. Next year we will be living overseas in a country where guns are not found in every home and are not needed for "safety". I will continue teaching virtually, where I will be safe and not in the line of fire. My family has been in this country since the mid 1700's, before it was even America. But this nation is failing us and I refuse for my family to become just one more victim of this insanity.
Ng (Vermont)
I am doing everything in my power to get my family out of here. It’s only going to get worse. We see the fight already mobilizing: to save the beloved AR15. They have all the money behind them.
Sierra Morgan (Mi)
I guess I should be thankful that I teach in a newer school building specifically designed to offer better protection from shooters. I would feel better if we had built new mental health facilities and trained more mental health care givers.
Bill (SF)
You would feel even better if guns weren’t so freely available.
Reasonable Parrot (Amazon Rain Forest)
Food, water, shelter and feeling safe from external threats are the most fundamental needs of all animals, including humans. It is remarkable and exceptional that in a economically wealthy and industrialized nation like the United States, such primal and essential needs are under threat and often not met. We can actually do something in each of these areas, from climate catastrophes to housing affordability to gun massacres, but in each of these areas we throw up our hands and say either nothing can be done or the status quo is acceptable. But in reality it's not. Does anyone here wonder why mental health problems are on the rise? It is the height of insanity to continue doing things that generally harm our society and our well-being. Sane societies don't continue on the path that America is on. They just don't.
Sasha (North Adams)
Our for profit health insurance industry system is a form of violence. The quiet horror that the nation is living is rarely spoken about by the majority of elected officials as many of them reap finamcial.rewards themselves. The stress of living in our society is felt by all save the very wealthy. I was warned 25 years ago by a Swiss economist to keep my ties to Europe because this nation would be on its knees for lack of safety nets. The US stands alone in wealth and lack of humanity.
KW (Me)
It can also lead to a mental health crisis for a large segment of Americans who then feel the only solution to gun violence is more guns. This group psychosis has not been identified in the DSM, but clearly needs to be studied and considered. As a non-American who studied in the US for years I was astounded by this mass paranoia and psychosis. It is clearly and distinctly and American issue.
DKS (Ontario, Canada)
One of my own learnings from COVID is found in the article. From time to time, disconnect from the media. Recognizing that the news of COVID was becoming overwhelming, we used the PVR function on our satellite TV system to record the news, play it on a time delayed basis (even 15 minutes is enough) and then fast forwarding through most of the COVID stories. The same strategy has been used in my house following the mass shooting at Uvlade. That does not mean we are not informed or are ignoring the news around us. It means we are exercising control of our consumption of media and recognizing that we have real, human limits. This is one technology which has been a blessing. Unfortunately, we will have to use it frequently now, if not daily.
Susan (Michigan)
What person hasn't moved through this last week without a heavy heart? What sensible young couple doesn't think twice before starting a family? How many more people avoid restaurants, theaters and other public places? Guns have corroded our country and I cannot even speak to Republicans who vote for the extremists who allow tragedies like Buffalo and Uvalde.
Ng (Vermont)
Plenty of Americans are fighting passionately—for the protection of their beloved AR15.
maryea (Tallahassee, FL)
Good article that made me think (again) about those who sustained gunshot wounds. We seem to forget that some gunshot wounds are severe. Death is final; a serious wound follows one throughout life or at least several years. Inform us about those, please.
What did we expect to happen in a country where there are more guns (~400 million) than people? Where an 18 year-old can’t legally buy a beer, but easily purchase a military-style assault weapon? Where even the mass murder of 6-7 years-old school children cannot bring back the assault weapon ban? Where guns are the leading cause of childhood mortality? What do we expect to happen to our teenagers’ mental health, when they are caught in the perfect storm of toxic social media, erosion of family and social safety net and abundance of easily obtainable guns? Is this the “American exceptionalism” we keep proudly talking about, because nowhere in the developed world firearms deaths are such a fixture of daily life. I have never felt so pessimistic about the future of this country.
Lyn (Albany, NY)
There is so much collective trauma bubbling up in these comments. It makes me so sad. If you are struggling, I highly recommend this talk by one of my favorite spiritual teachers. Tara Brach. It’s perfect for these times: https://www.tarabrach.com/nourishing-our-spirit/
Victorious Yankee (The Superior North)
@Lyn, You're hawking a product? Wow...
lisa delille bolton (nashville tn)
@Victorious Yankee lyn is aiming to help bysharing a resource it is free i just looked at it tara brach is highly regarded
Jennifer B (FL)
I’m a teacher. This affected me so much that I question going back into the classroom. Should I? Why or why not? I certainly can make more money somewhere else, but my heart is with the kiddos I teach. Convince teachers to go back into the classroom. I dare you.
ZoProf (Northwest US)
@Jennifer B I won't try. After 30-plus years of university teaching, most recently in a state where carrying a firearm on campus is perfectly legal, I'm done. We've already had two mass shootings in our little town, but nothing will change here. Our state legislature is working to ban the abortion of a being less differentiated than a small shrimp. After birth, kids are on their own. Thank you for your dedication.
Sierra Morgan (Mi)
@Jennifer B I can't even try. How can I ask teachers to become the people expected to take down a shooter?
Pragmatist (Greer,SC)
I think teachers should stage a nationwide walkout demanding an end to this ridiculous gun culture nonsense. A ban on weapons of mass destruction. Teachers are amazing. Thank you.
Barbara (Westchester)
When will it ever be enough. Enough guns, enough innocent lives ended too soon, all to prove what, exactly? That the right to own an assault rifle is more important for some people’s fragile egos than common sense laws that would at least help protect us all from this madness and save a few precious lives.
Thank you for an excellent piece. As one of your colleagues fighting the good fight in the emergency departments of Salt Lake City, I thank you for this resource for families. We are bracing against wave after wave here. At any given time we have dozens, if not hundreds of kids and teenagers boarding in our EDs, sometimes for days or even a week needing psychiatric treatment beds. Same for adults. We cannot meet the demand here in Salt Lake City and need help from community, government, anyone and everyone. The help we need, as this essay points out, is the rebuilding of our social fabric through genuine connectedness and love for others. Here in Salt Lake we have been through some truly horrific gun violence. We have yet to have a Columbine or Newtown, but we are hyper-vigilant and expecting it. The vast majority of my pediatric patients are extremely isolated and stuck in smartphone cycles of near constant emotional reinforcement - anger, sadness, euphoria, anxiety, all through an addictive screen. Their belief that they are connected to others virtually is a compounding delusion reinforcing cycles of isolation and avoidance. Pandemic and gun violence, the ensuing public policy and 24/7 scare media have terrified our youth into the following PTSD symptoms: avoidance, nightmares, hyper-vigilance, and even dissociative events that precipitate suicide attempts. Help In Salt Lake call Safe and Healthy Families, where we work to help youth and their families.
history lesson (Norwalk CT)
@PJR Your senator, Mitt Romney, is the number one recipient of money from the NRA, according to the latest statistics. Perhaps you could also organize suffering parents and children into some kind of mild political action to rid Utah of the scourge of Mitt. Maybe Safe and Healthy Families could do something as simple, but effective, as writing letters to Romney.
great idea I have written him and many of my social work colleagues have also, but organized action would be better. many of us liberals in UT have registered as Republicans to unseat Mike Lee.
Christopher (Brooklyn, NY)
@PJR Social Media is certainly a problem and not just for teenagers
Carolyn Nomura (Oregon)
To help all traumatized children in Uvalde, I have an idea. Let's donate puppies to them, along with ongoing food and veterinarian care. I would gladly donate to a coordinating organization. Does anyone know how this can be done?
Confused (Brooklyn, NY)
The article is right: Some people may develop a sense that the world is not a safe place, that others cannot be trusted “or that they are powerless to change the circumstances in which they’re living,”
ZoProf (Northwest US)
@Carolyn Nomura I believe there are organizations that travel to bring emotional support dogs to these communities, but I don't know any names. Dogs like this need special training and handlers, but they can really help. My own dogs have been essential to my recovery from PTSD following shootings here, but raising a pup is a big job.
Sierra Morgan (Mi)
@Carolyn Nomura Pets of all types can be calming and helpful to traumatized people. Let the person select the animal they are best able to take care of.
Mo (Portland OR)
Of all places, schools should be a safe haven. A place kids know they are safe, can talk with teachers and staff they trust and receive assistance when needed. It’s so disheartening that teachers have to “practice” intruder drills and lockdowns and from a young age instill fear of their surroundings. I taught kindergarten for 25+ years and even when we assured the students it was just practice, many of the kids cried. I always reassured them that they were safe, but can teachers say that anymore?? Please voters of America, don’t forget these youngest victims and their families……vote out those who won’t even consider sensible gun safety.
Dee (Out West)
@Mo Thank you for regrettably confirming what has been a lingering fear, that these ‘shooter drills’ are traumatizing children. Even a mock scenario causes their young minds to imagine horrible events that could occur. Could the memories from these drills be a reason for the mental heath crises and illegal drug use among teenagers and young adults?
Sierra Morgan (Mi)
@Dee As wrong as it is that children live in a world where getting shot at school is a reality, fewer kids died because of these drills. Knowing what to do saves lives, it also gives you a sense of having some control.
Christopher (Brooklyn, NY)
@Dee I still think of the “duck & cover” nuclear war drills we did in school, including evacuating to fallout shelters. It certainly preyed on my mind as a little kid. Psychologists note that people cannot thrive unless they feel reasonably safe and supported. Especially kids. Our country doesn’t do well by either metric.
Christopher (Brooklyn, NY)
That is the impact that often goes unsaid: the people who will die of a broken heart or commit suicide or start taking drugs or lapse into alcoholism or be permanently depressed— that’s the fall out from events like this; a lifelong toll that’s rarely accounted for.
Mrs_I (Toronto, Canada)
@Christopher I would love to see a documentary about the aftermath of a school shooting that follows the lives of survivors and victims' families and how they're coping. Not just in the months ahead, but the years ahead, and the film revisits their lives in the intervals. That should be required viewing for lawmakers, and frankly everyone in America.
Felix The Cat (Brooklyn)
19 children, 38 parents, 76 grand parents, 152 aunts & uncles, 304 nieces & nephews, all the friends & neighbors, the ripples are endless. Oh and there is no such thing as closure.
Ng (Vermont)
There are still a dozen wounded children in hospitals.
Chicago Guy (Chicago, Il)
If innocent people have to be slaughtered every week, in every conceivable public space, it's a price that Ted Cruz and 95% of the GOP are willing to pay. They would have us believe that it's "your fault" now if you get shot with a military assault weapon because it's your fault for not carrying. I often look around now when I'm out, thinking that I might get shot at any moment. But that's the price all 330,000,000 are supposed to pay so that people like Ted Cruz can continue to get rich, and score votes, off the mass-murder of our fellow Americans. "All life is precious!, he said, "unless it interferes with my political career", because at that point, enabling a weekly mass-murder (of school children) is suddenly even more "precious". The NRA/GOP have turned this country into an open air slaughter house for personal profit and political gain. Now, if these shootings "aren't about gun", as they claimed at the NRA convention, but "evil", than I would say that the real "evil:" here is the modern GOP, and there willingness to abet our slaughter.
Lolostar (California)
@Chicago Guy ~ Did Ted Cruz actually say those words, in your 4th paragraph down? It's difficult to fathom, how he and so many Republicans truly Do.Not.Care., enough to do something to stop this regular carnage. it appears that more and more people are coming to the shocking, and most unsettling realization: that no public place in the United States is safe anymore. More guns than people? Woe unto all of us in this time of mourning, cause we're no longer a 'Free Country' ~ Feeling free is all about feeling safe- trusting in one another to live and let live. But now, thanks to the Republican NRA, we must all live in Fear, which has canceled out our dearest liberty: Freedom.
Chicago Guy (Chicago, Il)
@Lolostar Ted Cruz didn't say those things but his actions did. And actions speak louder than words. Or, in his case, self-serving lies.
CactusHugger (Way out west)
@Chicago Guy Exactly. Your comment makes me realize that the behavior of Cruz and his fellow GOP crew are imposing yet another level of moral injury on top of the failure of the Uvalde police to protect innocent children. Disgusting, and this needs to be shouted on every street corner.
megan (Bellevue, Washington)
I'm never comfortable in movie theaters anymore; I actually prefer not to go to them. On the rare occasion that I do, I always look around and try to figure out how I could get out if I had to.
Nmtm (Mi)
Have no desire to go to a theatre, church, grocery store and worry about my grand children who will start attending school next fall. Maybe these businesses, if enough people quit going, will lobby for gun control. I also dislike being in public spaces where there are heavily armed police. I visited Washington DC as a kid and it was wonderful. Now you feel like there are more armed officers with high powered weapons than there are tourists. Armed officers all around frighten me. They do not make me feel safer.
Steve (Portland)
The constant, gnawing reminder that you might be killed is inescapable in school environments—it doesn’t take experiencing an active shooter event to plant the seeds of paranoia. In my most recent teaching position, every classroom was equipped with 5-gallon plastic buckets containing kitty litter. Why, you might ask? So students would have a way to relieve themselves if they couldn’t wait during a lockdown. It’s perverse to believe that gun rights should supersede the right to live without fear. When FDR enumerated the four freedoms, I don’t recall him saying anything about guns.
ddd (France)
@Steve my classrooms in France in my new school all have bales of cedar hamster and Guinea pig bedding, meant to be dumped into the waste paper basket, for the same reason. It’s both horrifying to teach middle school in rooms with bales of cedar chips and a creative if depressing, solution.
Mrs_I (Toronto, Canada)
@Steve OMG my jaw dropped reading about the plastic buckets and their actual use in the classrooms. Even my news-saturated brain cannot fully comprehend that American children have to be educated like this in their public schools. These types of details need to be known, and I doubt even lawmakers are aware - thank you for sharing.
hen3ry (Westchester, NY)
I guess I've lived with PTSD most of my life then. My parents were abusive. When I was six my father told me he could kill me and no one would know. It's not just shootings or obvious violence that harms people.
S Tveskov (which Is A Danish Name…just FYI) (Vancouver By Way Of CT 🇩🇰)
@hen3ry I’m so sorry you had to experience that. Best wishes.
Someone (Somewhere)
@hen3ry I commend your bravery in sharing this and try to advocate for more accessible resources for family violence victims. Domestic violence comes in many forms and the reverberating effects are devastating. I was speaking to someone the other day about trauma and its impact—how there is this implicit expectation in the US that victims bounce back or be resilience. But as much as trauma has come to the forefront more and conversely, is sometimes too casually or carelessly used as a catch-all for adversity, it is kind of a shadow that follows you.
Barbara (Westchester)
@hen3ry I’ve had a handful of traumatic experiences in my life inflicted on me by others. They’ve all affected me deeply and some have taken years to come to terms with. Some I still haven’t. It remains truly astounding to me the things that some people feel is essentially their right to do to others. I’m so sorry you went through this.
GLMann (Texas)
I have grandsons who are terrified of returning to school. In Uvalde there were 19 good guys with guns lined up in the hallway over an hour too afraid to confront the killer. A federal agent finally arrived at the scene, unlocked the door with the janitor's key and killed the murderer. Think about what NRA members are saying. "Guns don't kill people, people kill people." Yet, people with AR15s kill people faster. "We don't want to take away constitutional rights because of this event." Instead we take away the lives of children. "The problem is mental illness." Every country has people with mental illness, yet not one of the industrialized nations has anywhere near the number of gun deaths as in the U.S. "Now is not the time to take action... not so soon after such an event." Delay and divert and the immediacy of the problem with subside.
Sierra Morgan (Mi)
@GLMann Every other country has more than adequate mental health care. Most have exceptional care and plentiful facilities. Over the past 40 years Congress has done everything in its power to destroy the US health care system and specifically targeted mental health. This IS A MENTAL HEALTH PROBLEM.
Jose (Canary Island)
I'm very very sorry. Abroad USA we can't understand why you are able to own weapons to kill people. There are no reason. If you ban this possibility, then you won't need to defend agains gunman. It's a ZERO policy weapons that will save thousands lives.
KW (Me)
@Sierra Morgan your right. Those advocating for more guns to address gun violence clearly have mental health issues. It is a mental health issue for a large segment of American culture. It is a distinctly American issue.
Victorious Yankee (The Superior North)
What has it done? Exactly what terror is designed to do. Keep us living in fear so the elites can rob us. The kochs and waltons love the slaughter. It's a great cover for their crimes.
SkepticTank (Ann Arbor)
@Victorious Yankee You said this so succinctly. Yes, the terror is the goal.
c (Pennsyltucky)
People with mental illness are much more likely to be the victim of a shooting or shoot themselves than shoot someone else. The "mental health" is causing gun violence is a canard. Other developed nations have the same prevalence of mental diseases as we do. They have a lot less guh violence.
chico2022 (maryland)
I heard an interesting reaction to the Uvalde, Texas, shooting. It wasn't fear that the writer refers to. It was guilt because the person felt that she was somehow responsible, although she lives thousands of miles away.
lisa delille bolton (nashville tn)
@chico2022 maybe she had voted republican
Pete The Beat (Caledon Ontario)
Guns that are so easily obtained in a country that has been feed gun violence and killing on video games,and television and in movies for more than a century. I think that is just so tragic and sad.I weep for all the lost lives of children and adults
Clyde Benke (San Francisco)
@Pete The Beat Mexico has strict gun control laws..... still 100,000 people have simply "disappeared".
Sandy (DC)
I attended another public school close to Columbine the day of that shooting. I was eight years old. With so many more massacres compounding, I'm scared almost everywhere I go. What if I look at someone wrong? Do they have a gun? Will it happen in this grocery store, or another? I've even left movie theatres in the middle of a movie from the terror I feel. It is indeed a mental health problem, but like someone said, the mental health problem of people who put their right to own guns above common sense ...and their own lives.
dlb (washington, d.c.)
@Sandy During COVID, I got into the habit of doing my grocery shopping as soon as the store opened at 6:00am because there were very few people in the store. I think that might be the best time to avoid mass shootings as well as the virus.
Kate O (Pennsylvania)
@Sandy I am so sorry to hear about your ongoing trauma. I do not know if it can every go away, but maybe counselling can help you cope. You already may have done this, so don't pay any attention to me! Hugs, K
Someone (Somewhere)
There is a therapist who is on social media and he shared this about Texas. He talked about the importance of needing to “connect with empathy and stand in awareness”, among other things, but what I appreciated most is how at the end he acknowledges that holding onto hope for change can feel like it’s own mental disorder. https://www.instagram.com/p/CeBzN_6p9mQ/ PS. I only use dummy accounts for social media to help with job and mental health stuff but he is one person I actually find helpful.
Kate O (Pennsylvania)
@Someone Thanks for the link. I may listen to him more.... take care. K
Susan (Windsor, MA)
This was a side-note, but how crazy is it that in the land of "free" we virtually outlawed research into the impact of gun violence for a generation?
Angela (Midwest)
@Susan It is the same logic that outlaws a women's autonomy over her own body.
lisa delille bolton (nashville tn)
@Susan as a nurse: it is completely crazy it could be called criminally insane
Eva Lockhart (Minneapolis)
As a teacher, the mother of a teacher, the mother in law of a teacher, as a parent and grandparent, I'll ask, are you kidding? In our profession, we have lived in increasing states of terror since Colombine. It's just outrageous that people's right to a weapon somehow is seen as far more significant than the lives of millions of students, (all but a few, minors), and millions of teachers in this country. Apparently, our mental health, nor physical health matter little. Because when it comes down to it, what matters most appears to be a bunch of men and their need to own assault weapons. Don't even get me started on how WE are expected to die for our students (and frankly, though that is on none of our wish lists, we would), but men with guns and training stand around for over an hour and debate which tactics to use. Here are the tactics I have talked about and demonstrated to my students: we will turn off the lights and pull down the shades and be very very quiet and move far away from the door. We will NOT open the locked door for anyone. We will all squish under and behind my desk. But before that we will shove the two heaviest file cabinets in front of the door, next to each other so no one can squish past. We will then shove the heavy oak table in front of those and then we will pile desks on top of that in a huge mound. We will be down, far away from the windows. We will all be calling 911 ( we're going to assume that our police are braver than those in Texas.)
I am heartbroken you must have that conversation with your students. This cannot be sustained. We will not allow an active minority obsessed with guns to endanger all of us indefinitely. By any means possible we will do what must be done to keep America safe. We must exercise every form of civil disobedience that we can.
Stephanie (California)
@Eva Lockhart : I hope you never have to take these steps to protect yourself and your students, but I am impressed at how well thought out your plan is and how prepared you seem to be should the situation arise. As a side note, I, too, was appalled that after the first members of law enforcement went in and were shot at, that no others followed for over an hour.
Lydia (Massachusetts)
My heart goes out to the dispatchers who listened to those beautiful children die, as they were pleading for the police to rescue them. Those voices will be in their memories forever. PTSD in emergency services includes dispatchers and hopefully in the state of Texas that means they will get the counseling and support they need.
Kennedy (Colorado)
@Lydia While shopping at Trader Joe's here in Denver last week, I had a chat with a new cashier. He and his partner had lived in FL, then moved to Austin, TX for a job. When I asked him why he had recently moved to Denver, he said, we decided we couldn't live in "red" states any longer and escaped to a blue one. Thank god; he sounded so relieved. I expect he will not be the only one leaving as these events and platitudes continue to increase in red states. Texas sounds like such an awful place to live - it really is a country of it's own, and a place I avoid like the plague. It seems so barbaric there (with a few pockets of sanity), like the wild west where guns and the oppression of women (and those who are not far right, white Christian men) are the law of the land. Heaven help all those Californians moving there!
Hsi (Every Town)
The pervasive mental health problem is the belief that owning a handgun, much less an assault rifle will keep you and your family safe and secure. That’s patently nonsense from too many perspectives to count. We have a social and collective mental health problem. Much like Ionesco’s portrayal of the conversion of men into rhinoceroses who stampede to their doom. 100,000,000 guns sold in the US since Sandy Hook, 2012. That’s a lot firepower aimed at each other. The very definition of collective mental illness.
KW (Me)
@Hsi I completely agree. This collective paranoia and psychosis needs to be studied. Also we need to study how Americans treat their constitution like the commandments that came from heaven. It was a great document …but it is over 200 years old and may not be working correctly anymore. The French have figured it out. They are on their 5th republic.
Kate O (Pennsylvania)
@Hsi I do not disbelieve you, but I would love to know your source for the 100,000,000. Take care.
Debbie (NA)
@Kate O The USA represents 4% of the world population and owned about 47 percent of the estimated 857 million weapons in civilian hands at the end of 2017. “The biggest force pushing up gun ownership around the world is civilian ownership in the United States. Ordinary American people buy approximately 14 million new and imported guns every year,” survey author Aaron Karp told reporters.” So based on math 14 million times 10 years (since 2012) comes to 140,000,000. But isn’t it silly to quibble about the numbers since as noted the USA represents 4% of the world population but owns 47% of all civilian weapons? See link: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-guns-idUSKBN1JE220
Peggy Williams (Marietta, GA)
I'm a grandmother who lives in an Atlanta suburb. My husband and I took two of our grandkids to the fine Booth Western Museum north of here on Friday. We split up for the visit, and I was with the 4-year-old girl. As we walked through the galleries, she pointed out 3-4 paintings of Native Americans and said, "they are probably dead, aren't they?" I replied that the paintings and statues were all pretty old and that most of the subjects were probably dead. Her family has lost two elderly pets in the last 3 weeks, so she is thinking about death. But why would she single out the Native subjects of paintings? This poison is harming even our youngest ones. :-(
Michael (Albuquerque)
Interesting. Our schools teach that Native Americans were pretty much wiped out by settler-colonialism (they don’t call it that). It’s not surprising she thinks there are no more Native people left. She’s wrong. There are many Native people living in this country, the media just ignores them - it’s as if “we” adults don’t want to see them.
Sierra Morgan (Mi)
@Peggy Williams Sounds like she was equating very old with death. That is normal.
Carla (Brooklyn)
I was at a faculty / student softball game on a beautiful sunny Thursday, everyone having fun: and all I could think about was what if someone starts shooting? In Central Park. That’s how these events poison our minds.
Grace (Vermont)
I find this is in the back of my mind often as well. I travel outside the US often enough and it is rarely there when in other countries.
EB (San Diego, CA)
@Grace The last time I was overseas - Scotland and the Netherlands - I was impressed by cleanliness, a sense of order, and the optimistic spirit of the inhabitants. It feels different here and I often wish I had emigrated during the Iraq War.
Candace (Berkeley)
The real problem is the millions who feel that guns make them important and powerful. We need some different kinds of national identity based not on aggression but expressed thoughtfulness and kindness. These millions are accessories to murders.
EB (San Diego, CA)
@Candace Our national identity has been entwined with an outsized military and endless wars, and there is obvious impact on our collective psyche and behavior. Their financial cost makes impossible programs that could help our sense of social cohesion - universal healthcare, help with child care, decent roads and other modern transportation. No other "wealthy" country has the violence profile that we do.
Paul (Brisbane, Australia)
@Candace A brilliant insight, thank you for sharing.
C (N.,Y,)
Students hear it on the news. Then, nationwide, they participate in "active shooter drills". During and after such a drill, what are students feeling and thinking? What is it like to then return to the classroom and resume the history or math lesson, listen to the teacher, read the textbook and take notes. And, when test scores decline, teachers will be blamed.
Saddened (USA)
@C agree. The only answer we have for children is to make THEM responsible for keeping themselves safe?!? But in all other things they’re supposed to listen to and follow us?!? I think we are beyond repair. The poor children
Saddened (USA)
@C And what we offer them is “get under your desk”?!? When these bullets can pierce doors and walls? Maybe we should traumatize them LESS, and not do drills.
chico2022 (maryland)
@C I would think that the students would feel more secure having teachers give them instruction on pragmatic things they can do in case of a mass shooter. Pretending that this isn't going to happen when they see news stories all the time would only make them more terrified because they feel helpless.
rich33 (New Jersey)
When I was teaching late afternoon and evening classes at a public university, I was aware that the campus was completely open to anyone--all buildings, all classrooms, the library, cafeterias. I knew that all students and professors were unprotected and vulnerable. There were no drills, just individual decisions without guidance from administration. My attitude--It's similar to driving on highways, where something can happen without warning, so be alert, protect yourself as well as you can, and the rest is up to the universe. I'm no longer teaching and because of the pandemic, I don't drive much or enter supermarkets or theaters. Do I feel safe? That depends on what I see in the news. If I had children in school (I don't) I would be in constant fear for them. It's clear there is no dependable protection for them.
Mike S. (Eugene, OR)
@rich33 I felt the same way. Being on alert for danger while teaching should not be part of the job and the added stress is not healthy. Being on alert for danger while driving is part of being a careful driver. For some time now, I have been watching for the exits when I am in a public building. I suspect I am not alone in doing such.
Lydia (Massachusetts)
@rich33 These teachers may retire on disability but will they be scorned in any way? Will those beautiful children be remembered if the Robb School is torn down?
Ng (Vermont)
This story will be out of the news after next week. Until the next slaughter of children in their classroom. The fight is on: to protect the beloved AR15.
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