Reducing mass shootings: The crisis vs. the concept (Aug. 21)

by J. Pharoah Doss, For New Pittsburgh Courier

After the 2018 Parkland, Fla., school shooting, where 17 students were killed, a concerned citizen told a journalist, if the shooter had a revolver instead of a legally purchased assault rifle the body count would never have reached double digits.

In other words, no assault rifle, no mass shooting.

The citizen’s revolver theory assumed if there were only 6 students killed from the revolver, instead of 17 from the assault rifle, the decreased body count also reduced the mass shooting. This may be correct by body count, but not by concept. At the moment, there’s no “official definition” of mass shooting, but the commonly used descriptor is an incident where four or more people, including the gunman, are killed or injured by gunfire. So, the citizen’s revolver theory would only have applied if the Parkland shooter killed 3 students or less.

At the moment, mass shootings are considered a national crisis, and since politicians are crisis-driven, their legislative focus is on drafting bills that can prevent mass shootings as they are currently conceptualized.

But gun rights proponents believe this legislative focus has the same impossibility factor as the citizen’s revolver theory, because legislation cannot restrict a random shooter to merely three kills, unless the legislators plan on banning firearms all together. (Which gun rights proponents fear is the legislative agenda, making the majority of gun rights proponents second amendment absolutists.)

Based on the impossibility of keeping dead body counts to 3 and under, mass shootings can actually be reduced by increasing the body count in the commonly used descriptor.


Listed below are the notable mass shootings in the past 12 months. I will reduce the list by 50 percent.

1). 8-4-19—Gunman wearing body armor kills 9 at a popular entertainment district in Dayton, Ohio.

2). 8-3-19—Gunman kills 22 at a crowded Walmart shopping center in the Texas border town of El Paso.

3). 7-28-19—A 19-year-old gunman kills 3 at a garlic festival in Gilroy, Calif., but the gunman killed himself, making the body count 4, so it was called a mass shooting.

4). 5-31-19—A city worker opens fire in government offices in Virginia Beach, killing 12 people before being gunned down by police.

5). 2-15-19—A 15-year veteran of an Aurora, Illinois, manufacturing firm kills 5 co-workers during a disciplinary meeting before he is killed in a shootout with police.

6). 11-7-18—A U.S. Marine veteran who may have suffered from PTSD kills 12 people at a country music bar in Thousand Oaks, Calif., before taking his own life.

7). 10-27-18—A gunman kills 11 worshippers at the Tree of Life Synagogue here in Pittsburgh.

8). 9-13-18—A Gunman in Bakersfield, Calif., kills 5 including his wife, before turning the gun on himself.

This list had 4 mass shootings in double digits and 4 mass shootings in single digits. If mass shootings were officially defined as 10 or more killed by a gunman this list is automatically cut in half.

I know what you’re thinking: What would that accomplish?

I can think of 4 things.

1). It would cut down on hysteria. This normally leads to punitive legislation.

2). It makes preventing the crisis sound practical, not impossible.

3). It merges the crisis and the body count into a single entity to reduce.

4). It would statistically reduce the number of mass shootings in America.

Reducing mass shootings can be done by changing the concept, then by legislation.

(J. Pharoah Doss is a contributor to the New Pittsburgh Courier.)


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