Opinion: Cause of shootings: race, gender not gun control and mental health

Design by Cayla Brown

Tyler Tousley | Opinions Editor
From Print [October 20, 2015] | Legacy

So far this yColumbine Awareness Ribbonear the U.S. has had 305 mass shootings. That number is astonishing within itself, but even more so when it is considered that we haven’t even had 300 days yet in 2015. This means we have had more than one shooting per day in this year alone.A lot of people want to turn these horrendous events into a conversation about gun control or mental health. That is not my intention.

According to Political Research Associates 97 percent of these shooters are men, and 79 percent are white.There is clearly one group that is committing these crimes with a higher frequency than any other—white men. More often than not these men are mad because a girl won’t go out with them or because they were already socially awkward and faced repercussions of that from their peers.

So what about the aftermath of these shootings? Why do we portray white criminals as nice kids—news media often showing pictures of the perpetrator with friends and loved ones—who suffered from mental illness or shouldn’t have had access to a gun?When anybody who is not white is accused they are portrayed as thugs or terrorists—depending on how much darker than the average white person their skin happens to be. We do not see them on our television screens with smiling faces next to friends and family. We see mug shots or poor quality security camera stills.

Design by Cayla Brown
Design by Cayla Brown

I also have yet to hear anybody speak about the motivations behind the shootings. When Dylann Roof opened fire on a primarily black church in Charleston, SC, he told the victims that he was doing it because they are black. He even had a personal website where he could spew off even more racially charged hate. Yet when covered in the news, many outlets took a very vague approach to his motives, making it out to be a matter of opinion rather than fact that had been solidified by the shooter himself.James Alan Fox, a professor of criminology at Northeastern University in Boston, Massachusetts, has talked about gendered violence by saying, “Women tend to see violence as a last resort…Men tend to use violence as an offensive weapon, to show them who’s boss.”

We have helped in the breeding of a community of males who see themselves as lesser due to their physical status, lack of popularity, or their lack of girlfriend. We, as a culture, have taught them that they are at the top of the totem pole because they are white men.Our society tends to put white men above all others, so when these men are denied by women for sex or even just a date, they get mad. Almost as mad as they get when they see someone whose skin colors differs from their own.Not being used to rejection, this “lesser-than” male takes out his rage on the entire population of females and/or an entire race.

These constant shootings appear to me to be an issue of race and gender as opposed to an issue of gun control and mental health. We need to start looking into why it is mainly white men committing these crimes and then start to figure out how to prevent future shootings because it is clear to me talking about gun control and mental health does not seem to be working towards a solution.

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