Why Angry Young Men Are As Big A Threat As Guns
Written By Habibi Bridges:
The rise in active shooting incidents in recent years, only to be magnified by last month’s Uvalde and Buffalo shootings, have once again brought the gun control debate to a head. The Uvalde shooting in particular, portrayed a common “school shooter” trope – a young, friendless, loner with anger issues who dropped out of high school and purchased a firearm shortly after turning 18.
Salvador Ramos, 18, legally purchased two assault rifles for his birthday, along with 375 rounds of ammunition from a federally licensed local arms dealer with no trouble whatsoever.
Salvador Ramos, 18, legally purchased two assault rifles for his birthday, along with 375 rounds of ammunition from a federally licensed local arms dealer with no trouble whatsoever. Days later, he stormed into Robb elementary wearing a tactical vest, barricading himself in classrooms and began emptying his assault rifles on schoolchildren.
We need to stop avoiding a larger problem– the fear of addressing those who are most likely to turn to violence: men.
“Why?” People asked, after the news broke out across the country. How anyone could callously destroy the lives of the innocent is unfathomable. The real question we should be focused on as a country is “how could this be allowed to happen, time and time again?” This conversation is not only about gun control, but about mental health intervention, and how our system fails to protect citizens from those like Ramos and prevent young males from turning to violence in their youth.
We need to stop avoiding a larger problem– the fear of addressing those who are most likely to turn to violence: men. Young men within the ages of 16-21 are far more likely to commit violence than any other group, and not much has been done to prevent this. Surging androgens, linked to aggression, coupled with an undeveloped adolescent brain in a culture where toxic masculinity is still the norm is a problematic cocktail, especially when it has easy access to guns.
Early intervention with young, disenfranchised, mentally unstable and aggressive males should be a much higher priority in schools. Many of us are fully aware of the ‘school shooter’ or ‘mass shooter,’ stereotype. But how many of us take action when we come across a problematic boy who needs to be monitored, socialized, and guided by a responsible adult? Do we prioritize allocating resources to help combat antisocial behavior among young men? Or do we ignore the problem and hope that they grow out of it?
Regardless of the type of violence, gun violence or otherwise, this is a vulnerable age group and as a country we are becoming increasingly more aware of mental health struggles that only worsen over time if not taken seriously. Schools need sufficient staffing, including counselors and behavior analysts, who identify problematic behaviors amongst children, especially aggression and antisocial characteristics amongst young males–and these males should be monitored and provided proper attention so that they don’t turn their angst into violence.
The government bureau which is tasked with regulating the weapons industry has been historically underfunded and unsupported by Congress, leaving gun manufacturers the ability to exacerbate gun violence with little to no accountability.
As schools have faced numerous budget cuts over the years, weapon manufacturers have been offered
In the case of the Uvalde shooting, there were signs – several of which should have been addressed long before the shooting. Few, if any friends. High school dropout. Interest in firearms and weapons. He had a history of sending threats to kidnap, rape and kill girls he met online. The girls he messaged online, when questioned, rarely reported him–and when he was reported, nothing came of it. His threats were too vague, and all too common, as threats towards women are commonplace on the web.
That’s indicative of a larger problem–a problem of worsening mental health, exacerbated by a mediocre economy and a worldwide pandemic, coupled with stigma and shame amongst young men in a country that values profit off weaponry, death and destruction before people. With more guns than people and easy access to firearms, the likelihood that some of these young men turn to gun violence seems all too likely.
This is not to say that some amount of gun control legislation shouldn’t be passed. Guns are made for a sole purpose, and that is to maim and/or kill. With that in mind, it seems odd that a young person can purchase a killing machine before they are allowed to drink alcohol or rent a car – things of which are more relevant and essential to everyday life. When analyzing crime data and focusing on which demographic groups have the highest likelihood of perpetuating violence, let alone gun violence, it seems like the most vulnerable demographic is young males between the ages of 16-21.
Keeping that in mind, perhaps raising the age for purchasing guns would help curb some of the violence. However, this is not a fix-all solution, but just a part in a larger plan to remediate violence.