Criminal
Justice Response to a Mass Shooting Incident

Vicki
R. Dornbush

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LET
4900, Section 301, Fall Semester 2017-18

Dr.
James McKean

December
7, 2017

 

                                                                                                                                             

 

 

 

 

 

 

Criminal
Justice Response to a Mass Shooting Incident

Introduction
to mass shootings

A
mass shooting is a case where there are several victims resulting from a
firearm-related violence. It is often committed by organizations or individuals
whether in non-public or public places. Today, many terrorists use a mass
shooting to accomplish their political goals. The responses of a mass shooting
vary since it depends on factors such as the political climate the context, and
the number of casualties (Nakaya, 2015). The media often covers such shootings
and such coverage creates a lot of impacts. Many people wonder if the media
coverage of this issue motivates other incidences of the same kind. Naming the
suspects of such attacks have thus ceased to avoid making the individuals more
notorious. After such incidences, the survivors usually write about their
experiences and most of them must deal with the posttraumatic stress disorder.

Mental
illness, terrorism, and misanthropy are the main factors that bring the motivation
behind mass shootings. Only about 5% or less is caused due to the cases of
mental illness. Mass shootings occur all over the world.  It has occurred in Africa, and the main reason
behind it is the terrorism issues. Asia and India also have cases of mass
attacks. The mass shooting in South Korea resulted from the stress of the
soldiers and the conflicts that arise from its violence and the detention that
occurs in the society (Nakaya, 2015). Europe, Egypt, Canada, Israel and Russia
also have a notable number of mass shootings. The US, on the other hand, is
identified as the country with more mass shootings than any other country. The
US is susceptible to the public shooting due to the high rates of the firearms
ownership.

 

Mass
shooting in the US and the Criminal Justice Responses

Mass
shooting incidences have created a lot of attention in the educational arenas, public
health and the federal law issues concerning law enforcement. The Congressional
Research Service has identified that since 1983, there have been 78 mass
shootings in the United States. Examples are the incident in the movie theater
in 2012, incident in the Sandy Hook Elementary School and the incident at
Aurora (Congressional Research Service). The Congressional Research Service (CSR)
estimated that almost 500lives have been lost in the US due to the mass
shootings.  It estimates that since the
US attacked Afghanistan in 2001, the Al ‘Qaeda have killed fourteen people in
the US.

Many
mass shootings are happening in the US an example being an individual who
opened a firearm in a church congregation in Texan injuring and killing
multiple individuals. Whenever a mass shooting transpires in the United States,
debates arises concerning gun control. As mentioned above, the high rates of gun
ownership lead to the many cases of mass shootings. After mourning the deaths
of many individuals following a mass shooting, things do not seem to change a bit.
This is attributed to the unique gun ownership in the US. Their relationship
with guns is different from that of other developed countries (Lopez, 2017). The
gun problem which is an issue in the US is unique. There is no other developed
country that has gun-related issues as much as the US has. The death rates due
to guns are 16 times more than Germany, six times more than Canada and seven
times more than Sweden.

Research
has it that the higher the number of guns, the higher the number of deaths
caused by guns. Those who oppose the gun controls often think that the causes
of mass shootings are mainly due to mental illness. A mental health expert,
however, from Vanderbilt University claimed that those with psychological
illness have high chances of being the preys rather than the attackers. Also,
it is noted that many American support the measures to restrict he guns but
this does not often lead to the creation of the laws to restrict the guns (Fox,
2016). A research by the Pew Research Center Survey that many individuals in
the United State promote the bans on the sales of the ammunition and they
support the need of the federal government to control the sale of guns. They
also support the background checks and the weapons used for such assaults. The
questions often arise on why these agreements do not result in laws. They just
turn into political issues whereby the Americans tend to accept the abstract
ideas to own individual guns. This results at the end of the legislation that
would introduce the measures of private sales and the background checks.

The
lobby of guns in the US is powerful despite being recent. The National Rifle
Association (NRA) is a powerful organization when it comes to guns. It was
initially a sports organization instead of a political organization in
contradiction to the control of guns. It also made some gun restrictions.  The president of the organization in 1934,
Karl Fredrick, claimed that he did not agree with the bearing of guns. He
thought that it needs to be constrained but this should be controlled by the license.
Things, however, changed in 1977 when guns crime and rose and the government
thus considered the increased control of guns. The NRA members became worried
that more laws will be set up to control the guns (Lopez, 2017). They thus
installed in its leadership Harton Carter and thus altering the NRA into the
organization that lobbies for guns nowadays.  NRA fears that the gun controls will end up having
all the private guns confiscated in the US.  Some legal experts believe that by lobbying
for guns, the NRA violates the second amendment to the US constitution.

Every
time that bills arise to control the gun ownerships, the NRA rallies those who
own private guns to end the bills. The gun owners make up around 30% to 40% of
the households in the US. This population is, however, active enough to make
the legislators that imposing laws on gun protection will make them have poor
grades and thus resulting at the end of their careers. The supporters of the
gun control thus face huge challenges.  They
often think that by having gun controls the gun violence will be eradicated in
the US (Brantford). The proponents, on the other hand, think that the controls
will deny them the private right to own guns. At the state level, however, some
laws have been passed on the restriction of guns. Oregon and Washington passed
laws that enable background checks on the guns. The weak federal laws in the
issue are, nevertheless, a problem.

We
then continue to have concerns whether gun controls will solve this issue of
mass shootings. Background checks have proved to be fruitless in the elimination
of the onslaught. Many of the mass killers have no criminal records, and they do
not always think of buying the weapons they use illegally (Hate Crimes). They
often believe that they are common citizens who just need some justice. The
politicians have tried to bring to law the control of guns without fruits. When
this mass shooting arises, however, Americans question their gun culture and
control.

The
death toll associated with the Al ‘Qaeda result from the focus of the federal
government on counterterrorism and the homeland security. Education, public
health, and law enforcement are what the federal government deals with when it
comes to this issue. The shootings often occur in public settings, the realm of
education is what the policymakers are concerned about. The public and the
policymakers are aware of how the police officers react to cases of mass
shootings. They attract a rapid response from the police which is followed by
investigations, then prosecutions and sentencing. The police are, however, not
involved in the recovery options. The government may not get directly involved
in policy-making but can just make grants available. The Department of Homeland
security has the Security Grant Program. The Department of Justice also offers
grants.

The
other way that the federal governments assists is by providing the manpower. The
policymakers, however, doubt whether the government has enough resources to
deal with the mass shootings. The government often asks for additional funds to
offer the education and training to deal with cases of mass shootings. The
effectiveness of the existing laws on dealing with mass shootings is unclear
(Hate Crimes). The community policing has thus focused on law enforcement
policies instead of ending the crimes. The public health fields and the law
enforcement fields apply preventive approaches to this issue, but the fight is
still not clear. The policymakers might thus consider this two fields to come
up with their preventive schemes.

Personal
Reflection

Mass
shootings cost a lot of lives, and there is thus the need for preventive
measures for the mass shootings cases. The mass shootings arise from the rights
to own guns. I think that the introduction of laws that govern gun control will
help reduce the cases of mass shootings. The background checks are supposed to
be effective. The US citizens need to pass the laws on these checks. The sentences
for illegal gun possession should also be increased. This will reduce the
illegal ownership of guns. The regulations will thus give the licenses to the
individuals who have the urgency and the needs to own guns. Not every
individual will just be given the licenses to own the private guns.

I
also think that educating people and encouraging dialogue forums is a better
way that will reduce the incidences. Individuals can always seek justice
through other means other than attacking innocent civilians. The government
should thus be receptive to the complaints of its citizens and deal with their
issues appropriately. I believe that individuals would raise their issues in a
better manner if they are sure that their pleas will be dealt with.

Additionally,
I believe that the federal government needs to be directly involved with the policy
makers so that the laws can be enforced. Some states have created the laws that
control the ownership of guns. The absence of the federal laws, however, make
the laws at the state level useless since the citizens could always purchase
the guns outside their states. The Americans also need to vote on the laws if
at all they need a change in the prevalent cases of mass shootings. The federal
laws are what will apply to the entire country, and thus law enforcement at
this stage will be beneficial to the country. The citizens need to put
themselves in the shoes of the families of the mass shooting victims and accept
the need to enforce the laws. They should also turn up in large numbers to vote
the bills in. NRA members, on the other hand, needs to consider the safety of
everyone before struggling to retain the rights to own guns.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

References

Brantford, Ont: W. Ross
MacDonald School Resource Services Library.

Congressional
Research Service. Retrieved from: https://fas.org/sgp/crs/misc/R43004.pdf

Jacobs,
J. & Potter, K. (1998). Hate Crimes: Criminal Law & Identity Politics. New
York, NY: Oxford University Press.

Fox,
J. A., & Levin, J. (2015). Extreme killing: Understanding serial and mass
murder. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications, Inc.

Hate
Crimes: Criminal Law and Politics.
Criminal Law & Identity Politics. The New York Times. Oxford Press.
Retrieved from: http://www.nytimes.com/books/first/j/jacobs-hate.html

Lopez,
G. (Nov. 5, 2017).  America’s Gun Problem Explained: The public and research support gun
control. Here’s how it could help and why it doesn’t pass.  VOX.  Retrieved
from: https://www.vox.com/2015/10/3/9444417/gun-violence-united-states-america
 

Nakaya,
A.C. (2015). Thinking Critically: Mass shootings. San Diego, CA.: ReferencePoint
Press, Inc.