Rise in Mass Shootings Sparks Polarizing Conversation

Rise in Mass Shootings Sparks Polarizing Conversation

Photograph courtesy of britannica.com

So far, 2021 has seen a sharp influx in mass shootings. In these four months alone, there have been a total of 147 shootings. On the week of Apr. 12, there were at least four reported shootings, seemingly back-to-back. The aftermath of the shootings has caused a flurry of emotions amongst American citizens. Such misfortune has drawn people to question the reason behind these heinous acts. Simultaneously, others conjure multidimensional theories to explain the events. One notion that is firmly held in the minds of many Americans, however, is a call for gun reform. In the days since the manifold shootings, President Joe Biden has pledged an overall tightening on gun safety.

As stories of mass tragedy develop, experts are led to believe the cause behind them is the copycat effect, otherwise referred to as contagion. Originally coined in 1974, researcher David Phillips hypothesized copycat suicide, the idea that incidents of suicide increases after a highly-publicized suicide. This hypothesis eventually evolved into the contemporary copycat effect, a theory that suggests media coverage of mass shootings leads to mimicked shootings. The theory extends itself by coining the term contagion, as the idea of carrying out a mass shooting subconsciously “spreads” to the minds of others. Some experts state that this theory is to blame for the increase in mass shootings. Further, social media’s hand in swift diffusion has become a flagrant facet of the theory’s effectiveness.

In an attempt to reduce domestic shootings, President Biden has urged immediate gun reform. On Apr. 8, after a mass shooting in Texas, the president suggested completely ridding the country of assault weapons and magazines. The same day, Biden unveiled several executive actions that include the beginning steps to conquer a sweeping issue. The work toward tightening gun regulations in several states, like Colorado, began shortly thereafter. In this agenda, President Biden prioritizes enforcement of the removal of “Ghost Guns,” or unregistered guns typically built by the consumer.

As Biden and his team devise a plan for swift action, many words have been exchanged amongst several parties. While some welcome gun reform, others shun the possibility. Within the past week, the National Rifle Association (NRA) disagreed with Biden’s plans, launching a $2 million campaign in opposition. Ohio State lawmakers state that if such plans were to go into effect, its House Republicans would “null and void” its enforcement. Despite striking opposition, Biden continues to push for strengthening gun control enforcement throughout the nation.