In the wake of the Parkland shooting, Dick’s Sporting Goods and Walmart, the largest firearms sellers in the US, raised the age restriction for gun and ammunition sales from 18 to 21 years of age.
Walmart also removed all toys resembling “assault-style rifles.” This reaction has been in keeping with much of the outcry. But an analysis by the Wall Street Journal determined that, in the nearly three decades of mass shootings, age restrictions would not have changed the outcome.
They reviewed all school shootings since 1990 --- at US elementary schools, middle schools and high schools --- that involved three or more deaths. In total, there were 32 shootings. Most of the shooters got the gun from home or from a family member.
J. Reid Meloy, a forensic psychologist and longtime FBI consultant, said that “is a very important element that has been lost in the current debate.” Meloy determined the real problem was far more complex, involving a caustic mixture a “of troubled adolescent, unsecured firearms, general disorganization at home.” He added, “then you increase the risk, of course, of him being able to easily access a weapon.”
There are clear-cut warning signs to look for, warning signs that are much better at predicting and stopping a shooting than an age restriction.
Retired FBI agent profiler Mary Ellen O’Toole said there are clear-cut warning signs to look for, warning signs that are much better at predicting and stopping a shooting than an age restriction.
She noted that young shooters are mission-oriented, and are determined to find a gun somehow, so it’s important for parents and caregivers to look for the warning signs: “Signs include preoccupation with guns and gun violence, isolation, behavior changes, mental-health issues, drugs and alcohol use.”
The Wall Street Journal study, like many before it, tells us that the issue is with the people who commit these murders, and that the people around them can stop these shootings if they know what to look for. As a country, if we shifted that narrative, we could accomplish a lot.
But that would require personal accountability and responsibility on a national scale.