There are a few things that come up every time there's been a mass shooting in this country. Off the bat, there's an increase in gun sales. Then, there's a public outcry and statement by a prominent politician -- sometimes the president -- something to the effect of 'gun violence is terrible and we should do something blah, blah,blah about it' -- followed by another increase in gun sales, because 'They want to take our guns away!" despite the fact that 'do something blah, blah, blah' never happens.... It could be argued that some spikes in gun sales are a direct result of, or rather a reaction to, the act of talking about doing something about it...
When we discuss cops killing unarmed citizens, the stats are pulled up. Crime rate, in general, and homicide by gun, has been declining since the 90s. We call on those stats when we argue against the militarization of police. NRA uses these stats to defend their "right to bear arms" -- arguing that crime rates are down because citizens are armed. Data collection and presentation of homicides is like data collection and presentation of anything. What we get from it depends on how the data is sorted. When go by flat numbers, mass shootings can get lost in the mix. Yes, on the one hand the overall crime rate has declined and so has homicide by gun. On the other hand, many gun caused homicides take place during mass shooting events.
When there's a mass shooting, if there's a hero in the mix, like there was this time, some effort is made to focus our attention on the hero. Yes, we should pay attention to heroes who risk their lives to save others. And that's not just for the heroes though, is it? It's our way of dissing the villain. But, we can't help talking about the villain, can we? We want to know why and what makes a person do such a thing? We want to prevent the next one....
When there's a mass shooting here, we compare the US with other countries which have stricter gun control laws. Australia is a popular example. In 1996, there was the Port Arthur massacre, in which one man killed 35 people. Australia outlawed semi-automatic rifles, certain categories of shotgun, and implemented strict licensing and registration requirements. There was a massive gun buyback program. The Australian government raised funds through a special tax and bought damn near a guns. And pro-gun/anti-reg advocates have argued that didn't stop shootings in Australia. Australia did not ban guns entirely. It has stricter controls on guns than before '96. Not a complete ban...
Yes, there have been mass shootings in Australia since '96. Monash University shooting in October 2002, the Hectorville Siege in 2011 and the Hunt family murders in 2014. There have been other mass killings in Australia since '96 carried out by other means, like stabbing, fire and... one man who killed 5 family members with a hammer. Crazy shit.
That's the other thing we talk about -- mental health -- and what a poor system we have for that. I agree that there are plenty people who fall through the cracks. Plenty people too, who are seen as loners and strange in some way... "but, I never thought he'd do anything like THAT..." But, it magically seems to "makes sense he did that" in hindsight... people who never fall through a crack in the shitty mental health care system we do have because they've never come in contact with it.
Just take a moment to compare the numbers. Three mass shootings in Australia since 1996 (a span of 19 years). Maybe I missed some hundreds of mass shootings in Australia? In America, 994 shootings in the last 1,004 days ( a span just short of 3 years). The screenshot of shootings in America, attached, is a tiny portion of the chart (link below). The numbers and frequency are horrifying.
Sure, I do believe there's a mental health component to every mass shooting. I do not believe for one second that something magical happened in Australia... I do not believe that stricter restrictions on guns in Australia just happened to coincide with a miraculous boost mental health, or that Americans are just plain crazier than the population of any other country, including - for crying out loud -- a country once used as a penal colony.
"994 mass shootings in 1,004 days" http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/ng-interactive/2015/oct/02/mass-shootings-america-gun-violence
Mass Shooting Tracker http://shootingtracker.com/wiki/Main_Page
FBI Murder Stats https://www.fbi.gov/about-us/cjis/ucr/crime-in-the-u.s/2010/crime-in-the-u.s.-2010/violent-crime/murdermain
FBI NICS Firearms Reports & Statshttps://www.fbi.gov/about-us/cjis/nics/reports