Delta State University shooting brings gun control debate

Kali Daniel

Too often we hear the dreaded words, “Active shooter.” Too often they are followed by the words, “Gun regulations.”

Monday, Sept. 14, at 11:44 a.m., an active shooter killed history professor Ethan Schmidt at Delta State University.

I sat down while the university was still on lockdown to read Twitter and Facebook comments, hoping to send positive thoughts to those awaiting the attacker’s desist and their loved ones’ return.

Instead, I saw anger — and not at the attacker, but at the government, the state and the guns themselves.

I have never been an advocate for guns. I was raised in a home where weapons were not allowed, and hunting was not part of our southern heritage. I do, however, understand the importance of the Second Amendment and the right to bear arms. I respect our founding fathers wanted us to protect ourselves, but the question is, at what cost?

I was always under the impression the bigger issue facing mass shootings was related to mental health. I was wrong.

In a sample of mass murders, psychiatrist J. Reid Meloy found half of shooters had been bullied, half had a history of violence and the vast majority did not face mental health issues. Of the gun violence involving mass shootings, the majority were suicides.

This sharply contrasts with a Gallup poll where more people attributed mass shootings to failure of the mental health system rather than ease of access to guns.

A separate study by Duke University professor of psychiatry Jeffrey Swanson indicated the largest factors for mass shootings are a combination of unemployment, living in disadvantaged communities, drug and/or alcohol use, “violent victimization” or being poor.

“Guns (shouldn’t) be based on mental health, but on records of violent behavior — not just felonies, but also minor disputes,” he said.

I am now inclined to agree. There unfortunately need to be regulations. Just as in elementary, middle and high school – and even occasionally in every day life – when one person fails to be responsible, the masses suffer.

I do not believe people with a history of violence should be permitted to buy firearms — of this, I am sure. But I also believe the weapons are not to blame — the people are. And I do not mean specifically the shooter. I mean all of us.

The cliché “it takes a village to raise a child” is the key to solving gun control issues. Educate children about bullying, encourage their success and discourage drug and alcohol use. Engage them.

And in terms of those feeds and comment threads I mentioned earlier, note there is a time and a place for the argument of gun control. It may be your living room, the kitchen table or a community-organized workshop. I can tell you one place it is not: The live feeds of an active shooter situation while families and loved ones sit by in stunned silence.