Mass Shootings, Recent Events, and Presidential Response

During the first weeks of school, I read an article from the New York Times titled, “What Explains US Mass Shootings?” The article offers several possible answers including that American society is unusually violent, or that its racial divisions are larger than other countries’, or that citizens lack proper mental care. However, the article proceeds to debunk these theories, stating that the only variable that can explain why America has such an alarming number of mass shootings compared to other countries is “its astronomical number of guns” (NYT article). I chose to write about this topic because of the recent shooting at a school in Florida (my home state) yesterday. The shooting occurred at a school in Parkland, approximately 2 hours from my house. I have been searching the news for articles that try to make sense of the continuation of this disastrous phenomena, and something particularly stuck out to me: mental health. It stuck out to me because the New York Times article stated that it was not the main cause of such a large amount of mass shootings, but it also stuck out to me because President Trump is saying that a possible solution is to urge “children to seek help if they feel lost, alone, confused or even scared” (CNN article). This statement has received criticism because it addresses only one side of the issue: the shooter, and not the reason why a shooter has a gun. Twitter posts regarding the topic have reached alarming rates stating that Trump should not have made the issue solely about mental health, but should have also addressed the NRA and the relative easiness of buying a gun. In addition, the shooter Nikolas Cruz, had been expelled from this school in the past, and had been described as troublesome. More specifically, the weapon he used was an “AR-15 assault-style rifle, a high-capacity weapon that has become synonymous with many of America’s deadliest mass shootings. The shooter in the Orlando attack used a similar weapon, which is easier to obtain in Florida than a handgun” (Yahoo article) Why was is so easy for him to obtain a weapon “synonymous with America’s deadliest mass shootings” when the shooter was known to have mental health problems already?? While I do think that Trump was right to address mental health, this other larger aspect of the issue is what Trump has left out.