Is Gun Violence An Economic Issue?

Las vegas
Summer Vegas Fun/ Pre-Tragedy.

U.S. gun violence is a tough topic to tackle, and I’m not sure we know the answer, and it needs to be looked at through many different angles and lenses to fully understand the problem and solve it.  I am a gun owner, and I use them for hunting and home protection.  I don’t carry my weapons, even though I live in Texas.  I also believe I should be able to have my few guns for what I use them for.  I may shoot a duck here and there and eat it that day, or I may teach my children to shoot a .22 at a target.  No one has ever threatened me to where I felt I needed a gun, but I keep one ready in the house just in case of a break in.  I have a family after all and the nearest police response to our country home is at least 10 minutes away.  So I am an advocate to keeping guns, but we have to do better in some areas.  (Here are some charts to look at and ponder)

Most people are sick of the violence and would like to go to school, work, a movie, a theme park, or a concert, and just enjoy themselves without having to look for the nearest exit in case of the worst.  We have an implied contract in America that we will not harm one another, and we will not infringe on others rights to live peacefully.  So, where is it going wrong?  (Seriously, let me know because it’s a mystery to most.)

Mental Health?

I was teaching economics to my students the other day and as I was teaching Free Enterprise (Capitalism), Socialism, and Karl Marx and the “Have’s and Have Not’s.” I thought maybe this is our American gun problem (I know, it’s weird, but I actually thought this to myself mid lesson.).  We have talked about mental health in the media, and I agree, you have to be not right to want to shoot up any place, but maybe we have people who can’t afford to get treatment.  Rich people get depressed and they see a doctor and they get help.  They can afford to pay for health insurance and they stay mentally healthy.  Poorer people can’t afford the high co pays if they  have bad insurance or they have no insurance at all.  They get no mental health treatment, and they resort to self medication through street drugs or alcohol abuse at best.  At worst they get no help ever and they get more and more mentally ill until they do something terrible to those around them in public.  Jail is their treatment at this point, and that is not a great option for helping people.

So, if we gave out free mental health screenings at our schools, jobs, and free to the

Guns are good for Hunting.

public and then helped people get better would it create less mass shootings?  There are online free mental health screenings available in America, so why are people not using them?  Again, poorer people are less likely to have internet access, understand the results, and are in general less educated in the signs and symptoms of mental health issues.  You will also find that they are self medicating more than other populations.  Also, most mass shooters are younger, middle class and not from poorer communities. (List of mass shooting since 1984)

Social Status?

So is the problem with “keeping up with the Jone’s” mentality?  Don’t let my middle class neighbors know I have a problem, or I will have problems making friends, finding a job, or my children will suffer because their friends can’t come over to play anymore.  If this happens, I fear that I will fall out of the middle class and loose everything I worked for. (Warning signs of a mass Shooter)

Kids and School

Also, what about school age children and bullying in schools.  How are these distant, reclusive, and bullied kids not discovered by teachers, classmates, counselors, parents, and any other people who come into contact with them.  These kids most of the time need to get help, and some parents may be too busy to notice the changes in their children because of their economic situation.  They also, might be worried about getting their child mental health help, because a parent may think it could ruin their child’s economic future.  It can negatively effect their college entrance, and that could keep them from getting the best jobs later.  Also, we find out that many middle class families are living in debt and pay check to pay check.  Maybe the parents can’t take off work or afford the treatments that would save their child.  This a terrible thought, to not be able to help your child, and I’m not sure it is happening with school shooter’s, but I have been in school meetings where a parent expresses that they can’t miss any more work to help their child with behavior issues.  Some of which can be cries for help from the child.

School Safety and the 7 Inner Strengths

shotI recently attended a safe schools training and I found this slide interesting with school shooters.  It states that every student who has ever attacked a school has lacked the same 7 inner strengths.

  1. Purpose
  2. Hope
  3. Growth
  4. Happiness
  5. Compassion
  6. Truth
  7. Balance

As I read this and the speaker was talking I thought these are traits that someone should notice in someone.  The speaker talked that the teacher is the first line of defense in spotting a potential problem and reporting it.  We also, should develop these inner strengths in our classrooms and give students opportunities to grow as people in these areas.

If you notice people in poverty in the world they also suffer from a lack of these same 7 inner strengths at times.  They lose hope and purpose when the world keeps kicking them when they are down.  They are lacking growth just trying to keep their head above the water of life.  This affects their happiness up to $75,000 a year in most studies.  The more you make up to $75,000 a year the happier you are, and poverty levels shows high unhappiness and domestic violence.  I have seen a lot of people in poverty talk about life as a “dog eat dog world”, and compassion is missing in this line of thinking.  Most work so many hours at low wages, that work-life balance is impossible, because if they take time off they can’t pay their bills.  Poverty can create gun violence and most major cities have higher shootings in low income areas, because if life was good, their inner strengths would also be good.  People in a great situation don’t commit crimes.

So again, I’m not sure the problem is entirely economic, but I do feel that Americans economic troubles are helping the problem some.  To help a neighbor, or have a friendly relationship with them, is a great way to make America a safer place.  The more charity and better relationships we have with one another in our society the better we can all become at helping spot these potential problems.

That’s my commentary on how we can keep an eye out for one another and create a safer society through basic economics, and building relationships with our community.  What do you think?  Comment below.


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  1. I also hunt sometimes and have guns for home defense. I also have a concealed carry permit and do sometimes carry a weapon on out of town driving trips. I think you have some good ideas, but even with the best available treatment mental illness only has a cure rate of 60 to 80% so while the situation could be improved there will always be unstable people in the population. Also gun violence in this country is about half of what it was in 1991. It gets much more press but it has fallen significantly over time despite an increase from 2014 to 2017.


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