Guns | Mentally Ill ≠ Mass Shootings
For decades, at least since 1992, we have been arguing over which is the catalyst for mass shootings. Is it lack of gun control? Or, access to weapons for people suffering from mental health issues? The answer is neither.
In 2002, the FBI BAU unit (yes, it really exists) released a report on workplace violence and concluded that the root cause of workplace violence is toxic stress.
Whether you support or don't support gun control, you're right.
Whether you support mental health reform in the U.S. or not (in regard to mass shootings) you're right.
It's not necessary to argue this issue, because most of the perpetrators of mass shootings have been people who are suffering from some form of toxic stress in their lives.
Well that makes them mentally ill; right!? Wrong! If you take any human being, from anywhere in the world, from any socio-economic class, from a developed or developing country, at any age, and place them under extreme stress you will trigger the fight or flight survival mechanism.
- Domestic violence, now known as Intimate Partner Abuse, is an example. In intimate partner abuse, one partner is abusing the other over a long period of time, until the abused partner develops a high level of toxic stress. In many cases, the toxic stress is exacerbated by drug or alcohol abuse, and usually ends with both parties suffering from toxic stress. The Battered Woman legal defense was born out of a case of toxic stress. A partner experiencing toxic stress in a relationship will eventually find themselves at the cross-roads of fight or flight. The outcome is based on environmental factors such as: available assistance in the community and retained relationships with family and friends. If these are in place, then the likelihood of extreme violence is reduced; not eliminated but reduced. If the abused partner sees no other option, then extreme violence is highly likely. (See the case of Francine Hughes; Michigan, (The Burning Bed)).
- Schools across the country are grappling with the siege bullying has laid on them. Teenagers killing other teenagers. It's not the words themselves that hurt, although the words are the weapons. It's the result of the words: ostracizing, loneliness, shame, and depression. Unfortunately, even home is not a safe-haven away from the abuse due to what goes on in the schools transferring to social media. The target of all this bullying, who was perfectly sane to start with, begins to experience toxic stress. If we do not start addressing bullying for what it is: peer to peer abuse, we will never resolve this issue. No one wants to believe their child is a bully, because children are a direct reflection of the primary adults in their lives - the influencers: parents, grandparents and other relatives, teachers, coaches, etc. Schools need to focus on identifying toxic stress in children and then taking the extra step to do something about it, before the child reaches fight or flight.
- Companies and organizations are also engaged in the bullying issue. When employees are left to run amok, abusing each other over positions, promotions, recognition, power and authority, etc., toxic stress takes over the culture of the company and problems ensue. When an employee is targeted by one or more co-workers, the company has a responsibility to themselves and the community to bring down the hammer on such behavior. The workplace, like the schools, are filled with people from varying backgrounds, home lives, and sensitivities. All of whom are perfectly sane to begin with. However, once the bullying starts the workplace has approximately 12 months before tragedy strikes - an employee commits suicide or homicide - it's a roll of the dice in the case of the workplace; either one could happen, depending on the variables involved.
If you search for Toxic Stress on the internet, you will find that most of the results regard the effects on young children, but adults also experience and develop toxic stress over long periods of abuse. Francine Hughes (Wilson) was perfectly sane before her relationship with Mickey.
So, are guns or the mentally ill really the catalyst for mass shootings? No, in both cases. We need to work on reducing the amount of stress children experience in their lives, as well as reducing the potentialities for toxic stress in our own adult lives. Yet, it's easier said than done; right?