Two major shootings in a week: Where on earth do we go from here?

When I heard that there was an active shooter in Boulder, Colorado, my first thoughts weren't “Oh my god, how awful.” Nor were they “I hope not too many people get hurt.” My first thoughts were “Oh no, not again,” and “I wonder if this one is race-based as well.”

The fact that THESE were the things that I thought, instead of the former two, should be pretty telling. It is revolting how close to each other the Atlanta spa shooting, and this Boulder Colorado shooting were to each other. 6 days is the total amount of time that passed before the events of Monday, a time span that in the past would've just been the beginning of discussions for the spa shootings. We would still be in spa shooting mania right now, talking about the real reasons behind the shooting, about whether gun reform was necessary, etc. But thanks to this new shooting, we’re going to have to move on if we want to address this new crisis.

This is something that I cannot recall happening before, at the very least with shootings that are totally unrelated. And that’s truly what is the most jarring about this new shooting: there is no link between the two. The last shooting was a white, religious racist/sexist who specifically targeted Asian Women who he thought were “tempting” him. This new shooting is a middle eastern guy, who just seemed to have a screw loose. No apparent religious motive, nor any bigotry, or any theme behind his killings. Just a nut with an ax to grind. The only connection is that the two people were clearly mentally disturbed, got a gun, and committed a heinous crime as a result of that mental disturbance. And I do think that is important, because it tells you what you should take away from this: firstly, that it is far too easy for the mentally disturbed to get firearms, and more importantly that this country has a severe mental health crisis.

The first point is fairly easy to explain: in the spa shooting, the shooter got his gun mere hours before the event. In the Boulder shooting, the shooter got it the week before. The fact that these two men, who were clearly mentally unwell, were able to purchase guns is fairly shocking. Personally, I am a man who thinks that the ability to own a gun is a right that should be upheld, but it is still clear to me that these men shouldn't have even been allowed NEAR firearms. If gun laws were stricter, then I am certain people wouldn't have died. I mean, Georgia doesn't even have a waiting period for gun sales. What did we expect?

Gun control is the obvious choice here, to the point that it is entirely boring to say “we need gun control now.” It’s a conversation that has been had so many times, that I am completely positive you skipped that last paragraph entirely. But it’s also not the complete story. In the tale of what we can do to stop shootings, gun control only prevents people from being ABLE to do shootings. It does not, however, prevent the desire to enact a shooting. As the right-wing would say, if it’s not a gun, it’s a knife. and as much as I think that’s a dumb argument, and that gun control will save lives, there’s a nugget of truth to it. while you can’t kill 8 people as easily with a knife, you can kill with a knife. and any amount of death, as far as I’m concerned, is too much. There is so much more we need to do, aside from just gun control. In the fight against shooters, we must stop them before they can become shooters. We need mental health funding.

Now, I know that by bringing this up, there will be some people that A: think I’m some right wing shill who doesn't actually want to fund mental health, just to take away energy from gun reform, or B: think that I’m justifying these shooters by saying, “they’re just a bit sad guys.” To both of those points, I assure you I’m not. Again, I am for a lot of gun reform, such as more intensive background checks, including mandatory mental health checkups and all that, I just also acknowledge that the issue is complex. Secondly, I’m not trying to justify anything, and any shooting is abhorrent and the person who did it is nothing less than a murderer. With that said, you don’t just come out of the womb a mass-shooter. Unless you’re born with a mental condition like psychopathy, you have to be conditioned into being a murderer.

Take the spa shooter for example. He was a heavily religious, conservative man, with an Asian fetish which clearly led him to view Asian Women as nothing but things for his pleasure, which went against his religious upbringing, leading him to kill them. None of those things were ingrained in him, they were learned. He learned to view Asian Women as nothing but sex objects, and he also learned that sex outside of marriage was a sin by his church. Would this man have turned out better if he had better mental help? I think so. Certainly, if a professional was able to work with him about resolving his feelings about sex and Asian Women, he wouldn't have done what he did. But instead, all the help he did get came from his church and other religious services for sex addiction, which clearly didn’t help.

I’m not saying this will fix it all, obviously. There are other issues than just guns and mental health that lead to shootings, and certainly I wouldn't expect a therapist to fix the damage caused by the spa shooter's religious upbringing. But in general, I think these two things would help immensely. It is clear as day that we need to do something about the shooter crisis in America, and if we don’t, then more crimes like we saw in the last two weeks will keep on happening. If we don’t act, then the shooters absolutely will.

He/Him, amateur writer guy