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Gun violence on campuses

At the time this article was written, the most recent school shooting alarm occurred just 10 hours ago. The problem of gun violence on campuses has been rising in the recent years. Now, with Northwood’s recent bomb threat on campus, the issue has never been more important. But why are these horrific acts happening, and what can we do to prevent them?

Determining the root cause of gun violence at schools is a complex issue, partly because its instigators usually have unclear motives. One hypothesis suggests that the primary causes of gun violence is living in a troubled environment. Research indicates the likelihood of violence increases for those who are unemployed, poor, living in disadvantaged communities, using drugs or alcohol or have suffered from “violent victimization” at some point in their lives. Mental illness and depression remain two of the biggest factors that explain why individuals commit hate-based violence.

However, in many cases of school shootings—such as Sandy Hook—perpetrators exhibit no signs of abuse or formal mental illness. In fact, they often don’t show signs of any instability, either.

How, then, can we determine the reasoning behind these atrocious acts? The blame often falls on gun availability.

A highly partisan topic, gun control remains at the center of the discussion about school shootings. Politicians and researchers alike believe that both loose regulations and the anonymity of buying a gun contribute to the ease of gun access. That’s why since the Columbine shooting in 1999 there has been a marked attempt at tightening gun regulations through methods such as stricter background checks. Some claim that tighter regulations effectively combat violence, but researchers have noted that all studies conducted thus far have merely been “observational” and could not definitively prove that tighter gun laws or any other factor reduces violence in schools.

While gun violence is a problem, more firearms on campus are certainly not the answer. Tightening regulations on guns won’t help either. Regardless of the efforts taken, a driven, disturbed individual will still manage to achieve their goal. If an attacker is intent on killing others, then a physical barrier or harder access to guns won’t stop them. Rather, experts say that the best solution is to address the root causes of potentially violent students’ insecurity: bullying, unstable environments and depression. Instead of punishing misbehavior with suspensions and expulsions—which can exacerbate students’ hatred—schools should take more productive approaches to discipline, like referring troublemakers to professional counselors. In a world where “hard” programs like zero tolerance policies are popular, yet unsuccessful, the solution lies with “soft” programs that nurture students away from violent actions.