Gun Trauma: An Unrelenting Pandemic of Fear

I’m publishing this series of articles to share and discuss my ruminations on coping with a troubled and messy world. You can “follow” me to never miss an article.

Shannon Watts, founder of the gun-control organization Moms Demand Action, reinforces what I’ve long contended. Namely, if guns were truly responsible for making us safe, then given the 300 million or so guns in the U.S., then we ought to be the safest Nation on the planet. Far from it. Our gun homicide rate is 26 times greater than comparable countries[i]. More has definitively Led to Less.

The article in which Ms. Watts is quoted is an ode to the heroic citizens who by putting themselves in the way of active shooters have prevented widespread carnage. Sadly, in a number of cases, not only has it resulted in their suffering serious harm, but death as well.

As Ms. Watts is rightly quick to point out, as admirable as such behavior is, focusing on heroic acts diverts our attention away from dealing with the main problem, our country’s unrelenting gun violence. That’s precisely where it should be focused.

Once again, as admirable as such heroic behavior is, it’s nonetheless given rise to the feeling that between the times when the Police arrive to take charge, you’re basically on your own. As a consequence, people in high-risk situations — which increasingly includes all of us — need to be schooled in Run, Hide, Fight. That is, if you can’t Run or Hide from an active shooter, then you’re forced to Fight if hopefully you’re to save yourself and others.

That we as a Nation even have to consider such schemes — if that’s what they really are — is a devastating commentary on the pitiful state in which we find ourselves. We are suffering from nothing less than a never-ending Pandemic of Fear brought on by Gun Trauma. And, Fear only begets more of it.

If ever we needed help on breaking our unrelenting addiction to guns, this is it. It starts with seeing it for what it is, irrational responses to Collective Madness that only makes it worse.

[i] Julia Bosman, Mitch Smith, Eliza Fawcett, and Serge F. Kovaleski, “Hero Citizens Risking Lives In Line of Fire,” The New York Times, Thursday, January 26, 2013, PP A1 and A16.

Ian I. Mitroff is credited as being one of the principal founders of the modern field of Crisis Management. He has a BS, MS, and a PhD in Engineering and the Philosophy of Social Systems Science from UC Berkeley. He Is Professor Emeritus from the Marshall School of Business and the Annenberg School of Communication at USC. Currently, he is a Senior Research Affiliate in the Center for Catastrophic Risk Management, UC Berkeley. He is a Fellow of the American Psychological Association, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the American Academy of Management. He has published 41 books. His latest is: The Socially Responsible Organization: Lessons from Covid, Springer, New York, 2022.

Photo by Rick Shaw on Unsplash



Professor Emeritus USC

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