America is once again trying to make sense out of the tragedy of yet another deadly mass school shooting. The lives of 19 children and two teachers were cut short by an 18-year-old gunman who attacked a classroom at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas. Everyone is asking when will this madness stop? The answer requires a broader approach than gun control. It should penetrate deeper layers of the social fabric and move toward cohesion.
The most recent rampage occurred just days after a white, far-right youth killed ten people in a supermarket in Buffalo, NY. The Texas shooting, perpetrated by a teen of Hispanic descent, is the deadliest school massacre in the US since the Sandy Hook shooting ten years ago that killed 20 children and six adults in Newtown (CT). The incident is ammunition firing up the debate in America over the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms. Both President Biden and former President Obama accuse the gun lobby of opposing the regulations.
The mass shootings in the United States will not be solved until the root of the problem is addressed, and that is not gun control. Even though it is obvious that gun sales should be monitored, I do not believe that it will stop the bleeding in America. Even if there were regulations, it would still be possible to buy guns on the street. On the other hand, violence cannot be prevented if everyone carries a gun. It will be safe only if absolutely no one has a gun, but that is just an illusory reality.
So, America is not facing a gun problem, it is facing a social epidemic. The US is an extremely and increasingly divided country. There are too many factions, divisions, and interests within the population that clash in education, culture, temperament, religion, with tendencies to live opposed to each other.
Conversely, the more homogeneous a society is, the more it neutralizes and prevents individuals from heating up and aggressing others. But in America today, the opposite is true. In US society, people do not understand, empathize with, care about, or even tolerate each other. They have little patience with their neighbors, they do not want or even ask favors from others. Everyone wants to stand alone, as far away from each other as possible.
Has someone fallen down in the middle of the street in a big city? No one cares about that. No one owes anyone anything because there is no sense of belonging. Other countries have a relatively uniform social fabric, but in a deeply individualistic society like America’s, diversity has a particularly hard time.
In children and adolescents, it is many times more amplified. They absorb the tensions between different types of people, charged with the latent anger between the descendants from the English and the Germans, the Irish and the Africans, which has existed since the founding of the United States. The Latinos, and each penultimate group who immigrated to America can also display brutal outbursts.
In such a social climate, it is easy for a boy who does not agree with any idea or opposes some position to take a machine gun and go out and settle his scores with the lives of innocent people. This is his way of showing everyone how much he hates the society in which he lives.
Therefore, addressing the epidemic of gun violence in schools and anywhere else goes beyond laws and regulations. America must address the deep cultural and social conditioning that produced these events by initiating an educational program to teach its children new examples, norms, and values. A school should feel like a supportive community, not a place where they must compete mercilessly while struggling for social acceptance.
American society needs to be thoroughly taught how to replace street-level carelessness with feelings of consideration, mutual caring, and cooperation. Through workshops, discussion groups, and joint projects, they should be regularly trained to cooperate, build trust, and develop their social sensitivity to one another.
This is achievable. Just one comprehensive educational step can truly wash over America by leveraging the creativity it is capable of through Hollywood movies, riveting TV shows, and proper media content. It would help to guide everyone from an early age about how to act in situations where anger arises, how to lock it down with a strong, inner bolt, and how to prevent anger from erupting to the point of killing. When America has had enough of senseless bloodshed, it will be ready to move beyond failed attempts at remedying the symptoms and it can take truly meaningful steps to prevent violence through social reform.