Every time there’s a mass shooting in the news, the media and leftwing politicians love to focus on two supposed culprits – the mental instability of the perpetrator and the guns involved.
Unfortunately, this gives people the false impression that the United States is a place where you’re constantly at risk of some deranged nutcase with an arsenal of powerful weapons gunning you down. Although these events do happen sometimes and it’s always tragic when they do, the statistics show that they’re much rarer than most realize.
In fact, when it comes to gun violence, there are far more significant threats than the stereotypical mentally ill mass shooter.
Domestic Violence Is the Biggest Cause of Mass Shootings
The mass shootings committed seemingly at random and to devastating effect are certainly the most high-profile acts of gun violence, but they’re the exception, not the rule. Here’s what the statistics show.
First, it’s important to define what a mass shooting is. Those who support gun control measures are far more liberal on what constitutes a mass shooting because this allows them to inflate the number of mass shootings. However, the most commonly accepted definition is a shooting with at least four firearm fatalities, without including the shooter.
Using that standard, the United States had 156 mass shootings between 2009 and 2016, a much lower figure than you may have heard. Nancy Pelosi claimed earlier this year that there were 273 mass shootings in 2017 alone, a ridiculous number that doesn’t reflect reality.
Of those shootings, 54 percent involved domestic violence or some other form of familial violence. Another study which debunked the idea of the crazed lone gunman (or gunwoman) found that up to 85 percent of shootings involve situations where the victim knew the shooter in some way.
Another important consideration when it comes to the issue of gun violence in the United States is that gun homicides are actually much less common than gun suicides. There are approximately 33,000 deaths caused by firearms each year, but 22,000 of those are suicides. That holds true in North Carolina, where the gun suicide rate has been higher than the gun homicide rate for every year dating back to at least 1999.
Mental Health Isn’t the Key to Solving Shootings
It’s easy to hear one of the big mass shooting stories and jump to the conclusion that mental illness is the problem. Some on the left have already tried to politicize the issue and spin it as people starting with domestic violence, and then graduating to mass shootings.
What happens far more often is that people end up trapped in toxic relationships, and that drives them to shooting victims who they know. It’s still a terrible crime, but it’s not the story the left is painting.
The data discredits the idea that mentally ill people commit many shootings in the United States. One study found that of the gun homicides that occurred from 2001 to 2010, under 5 percent involved a perpetrator who had been diagnosed with a mental illness.
More Gun Control Won’t Work
Besides mental illness, the other common target when it comes to mass shootings is firearms. No matter the circumstances behind the shooting, even if the perpetrator used guns that they obtained illegally, people will make the knee-jerk decision that we need more gun control (or, more commonly, demonize a particular type of gun like the AR-15.)
If it wasn’t even a shooting but a violent attack with a bomb or a truck, people will still find a way to blame the “violent gun culture” in the United States. Of course, no one rushes to blame a country’s culture when a violent attack occurs in Europe.
What many fail to realize is that the problems aren’t the guns themselves, and North Carolina is the perfect example of that. The state is the 15th-worst in the country in terms of gun violence despite its gun laws, which are fairly stringent, especially when you compare it to its neighboring Southern states.
Purchasing a handgun requires going to your local sheriff’s office to apply for a permit, and when you do, you need to go through a background check, get your fingerprints taken and even take a morality test. That final requirement is unique among most states, and many of the states that are stricter on guns don’t have any morality tests.
Since North Carolina is a shall issue state for concealed carry permits, those are simple enough to get. You just need to have a clean background, and to satisfy the legal requirements for concealed carrying, the firearm must be in a suitable concealed holster.
Effective Strategies to Reduce Gun Violence
So, if more gun control isn’t the solution, what is?
For a strategy to be effective, it needs to address the most common types of gun deaths. Since domestic violence is such a common cause of mass shootings, providing extra support for victims of domestic violence can get those people out of bad situations. Leaving a toxic relationship is incredibly hard for most people, but failing to do so puts them at risk.
With suicide being the most common type of gun death, it’s also important to make counseling available for people, particularly those in the highest risk categories. This tends to be older men who often don’t have anyone else to talk to.
Of course, keeping guns out of the wrong people’s hands is also a priority. But that means we need to enforce the laws that are already on the books. Making new gun control measures doesn’t solve anything, and it only impacts the gunowners who follow the law, not the ones who want to use guns to commit violent crimes.
Mass shootings are horrific events, but there’s an inaccurate narrative around them. The media wants you to think that most are caused by people who are mentally ill, but these shootings tend to be domestic in nature.