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Coordinated efforts can prevent mass shootings

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Horrific and sad as mass shootings are proliferating in the United States. There have been 44 mass shootings in the U.S. since the start of 2023, more than any other point on record. There is no organized effort that politicians, other agencies or institutions to offer a solution to stop mass shootings. One of the problems in stopping mass shootings is poorly understood by the community, who often describe the shooter as crazy, insane and demented individuals. They may be demented, but they are not crazy as the planning involved in mass shootings indicates they can think and organize, which seems sane cannot do.

The majority of efforts to stop mass shootings focus on gun control. However, I believe the focus on gun control is not adequate to stop mass shootings. As an example, the worst disaster in the United States in school violence occurred on May 18, 1927, when a bomb in an elementary school, planted by a disgruntled school board employee, killed 38, elementary school children and six adults.

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Anger is the driving force behind these attacks. Another factor in mass shootings is that mass shooters often give out signs such as verbal signs, written signs or other means of communicating what they intend to do. In the threat assessment literature these are called “pre-incident indicators.” Communities could be trained to notice these pre-incident indicators and report these to authorities which is an immediate response to stop the mass shootings. There is a way to address mass shootings, but it will take a coordinated effort of government and private agencies to overcome this.

Ronald J. Coughlin, Ed.D.

New Jersey Violence Prevention Institute

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