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To the Editor:
Recent national news stories have focused on Gabby Petito, vaccine mandates, infrastructure and Texas abortion laws.
Gun violence is mentioned infrequently. Focus on the shooters themselves and what we can do to stop them is missing. Without understanding shooters, gun killing will continue.
Information from the Gun Violence Archive, the Violence Project and the U.S. government and the FBI can help answer the question of who killed, how and why.
In the first nine months of this year in the U.S. there have been 15,400 deaths, 30,800 injuries, 530 mass shootings, 233 children killed, 820 children injured , 910 teenagers killed, 2,553 teenagers injured, 959 defensive use incidents, 1,556 accidental shootings and 433 murder-suicides.
The research on mass shooters may be more valid than what is said about lone gun killers. There have been 167 mass shootings after the University of Texas tower sniper killed 15 in 1966. By studying a large group of offenders, researchers — especially psychologists and psychiatrists — can make generalizations:
Shooters often have traumatic childhoods that grow into mental health problems and have easy access to guns. They are males, often motivated by racial, religious or misogynist hatred. They cannot find a solid place in society, and nearly 70% of shooters are suicidal. Shooter victims are either random or focused on specific places like work, schools, and the military. Entrenched inequality too often moves persons of color to kill. Killings like those at Columbine invite copycat crimes.
Intervention is essential.
Some suggestions about gun violence deterrent: Severely limit gun availability and persist in taking away guns from dangerous persons. Background checks online, at gun shows, in-person sales and licensed dealers must be passed by Congress. The 2019 Quinnipiac U. poll found that 90% of Ohioans favor universal checks.
With the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, the FBI provides an important check so that gun sellers can learn if the gun buyer has a criminal record and thus should be prevented from gun purchase. Launched in 1998, more than 300 million checks have been done, leading to more than 1.5 million denials.
We must do more to improve the process and ensure more thorough checks.
Emeritus Professor BGSU
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