Mass Shootings and the Things We Miss


Noor Abdelfattah

Associate Editor

Loyola University Chicago School of Law, JD 2025


With the recent mass shooting in Maine that has left nearly twenty dead, discussions regarding  how we could avoid such atrocities continue. Mass shootings are commonly defined as, “any incident in which four or more people are shot and wounded or killed, excluding the shooter.” In 2023 alone, there were over 560 mass shootings, well exceeding the number of days in the year. Some solutions have been presented to help lessen this crisis, but it seems not enough action has been taken. The general public has a collective goal of regulating the actions that lead to mass shootings. Further, addressing warning signs we tend to miss will help us reach that goal.


The country with the highest amount of mass shootings


The United States has the highest amount of mass shootings, with no other country coming close. Experts point to a few theories as to why the United States is facing such a unique and horrifying time with such high amounts of mass shootings; in 2023 alone, well over a hundred mass shootings have been documented. These include “a general increase in all types of gun violence in recent years; the proliferation of firearms amid lax gun laws; the effects of the coronavirus pandemic, including the stress of long months in quarantine; a political climate unable or unwilling to change the status quo in meaningful ways.” Although Americans opinions vary when it comes to implementing heavier gun control measures, we could collectively say the amount of mass shootings must be addressed and turn to solutions.


Proposed solutions


One common proposed solution is implementing background checks to keep guns away from prohibited individuals. Currently, background checks are not required with unlicensed sellers, like non-dealers who sell guns online or at gun shows. This loophole allows those with felony convictions, domestic abuse restraining orders, and others who fall under the prohibitions to buy guns with no questions asked. By using a state registry and requiring background checks on all gun sales, including those online or at gun shows, we will help close the loophole so that no individual falls between the cracks. Another proposed solution are Violence intervention programs (VIPs), which help reduce gun violence by strengthening communities and helping neighborhoods become safer. These programs vary from street outreach workers who intervene in conflicts before they become violent, aid gunshot survivors, help avoid future conflict, and more.


The warnings we miss


Many times, we have warnings presented prior to mass shootings that could have helped us avoid such casualties. In the case of the recent Maine shooting, the Sheriff said he sent out a statewide alert regarding the gunman weeks ago. Further, in the Highland Park shooting, the suspect was flagged for concerning posts on his social media platform. Yet, no action was taken to prevent these tragic events.


Other times, family members, friends, or even officials in education are aware of the risk and sometimes choose to report potential concerns to authorities. Within the educational realm, educators have compiled signs to look for in students to prevent mass shootings. For example, if a child says something concerning or their behavior drastically changes, educators could keep an eye on the student and even discuss it with their parents and the school’s social worker. These methods could also easily be transferred to the workplace and home setting. If concerns do arise, individuals could report these instances to those in authority or reference the individual to those who may help (e.g. mental health experts).It is vital that we as a society work together to not ignore the psychological signs presented before us as that could save many lives.


The next steps to regulate the actions that lead to mass shootings


Ultimately, the potential solutions lay right in front of us. In addition to sensible gun laws that most Americans agree with, we could also create a gun safety culture in which we promote keeping firearms away from young kids and holding the gun industry accountable for their shortfalls. We can also turn to public health solutions and the importance of addressing psychological needs. This is a very important issue that has been plaguing our nation for far too long and we must put an end to this violence. Reducing the incidence of gun violence will require interventions through multiple systems. These include in the areas of law, public health, public safety, community, and health. Only by intervening with the appropriate measures could we finally reach an end to these preventable atrocities.