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In both cases, they often want to be a “somebody” who makes a name for themselves by going out in a blaze of bloodshed and infamy.
Simply making assault rifles harder to obtain will not solve the problem of mass violence. If an individual is desperate or delusional enough, he will simply move to the next available weapon. The world just saw tragic evidence of that in central China. Unable to obtain firearms, a man went on a stabbing spree in an elementary school in Chenpeng village, also on Dec. 14. He wounded 23 students – admittedly a less severe outcome than 20 students killed, but nonetheless part of a troubling pattern of mass-stabbings in the country.
By addressing the underlying causes behind mass shootings, the US also has the opportunity to avoid a response that restricts rights in the wake of a national tragedy.
After the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, part of the government’s domestic response was an arguable curtailing of privacy, speech, and association rights. Now, in the wake of Newtown, comes the prospect of undermining rights to gun ownership. “Kill the Second Amendment. Not children,” one sign read at a protest outside the National Rifle Association headquarters in Washington this week.
The US, however, must not fall back on simplistic answers. While it may be uncomfortable and expensive, the real solution lies in addressing mental health issues and the social isolation that drive individuals to commit acts of mass murder.