Mass shooting incidents are very commonplace in the USA.

Whenever any shooting occurs, the same debate about "gun control" comes again and again.

However, shooting incidents are a byproduct of various social issues. E.g., bullying at schools, depression, joblessness, office politics, etc.

Have the political community recognized those social issues to be the causes of mass shootings?

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    Naturally there has been; there has been discussion about nearly everything. I am confused what kind of answer you are expecting that you could not trivially find with a web search for terms like "school shootings bullying" or "school shootings causes".
    – wonderbear
    Commented Jan 31, 2023 at 12:31
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    Do bullying rates in the US far exceed those in other nations?
    – Stuart F
    Commented Jan 31, 2023 at 14:47
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    Look at the latest perps in California: two 70+ Asian men. How much common root causes are you going to find there with the other yahoos going kill-happy because they a) have grievances b) can get guns and c) live in a place where they have plenty of inspiration. Keeping everyone happy is not feasible. Fixing it by stopping purchases by mentally ill folk is unlikely to help much, without either a lot of scrutiny at purchase time or a very intrusive classification of many people as mentally ill. Commented Jan 31, 2023 at 19:32
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    "Discussions in the political sphere" is pretty nebulous and the question would benefit from a little more focus.
    – ohwilleke
    Commented Jan 31, 2023 at 20:48
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    Out and out bollocks. "bullying at schools, depression, joblessness, office politics, etc." aren't noticeably worse than other countries that don't have a tenth the number of mass shootings. Commented Feb 2, 2023 at 0:10

4 Answers 4


Broader research on gun violence in the United States has been somewhat hampered since 1996 by the NRA-backed Dickey Amendment to the federal budget, which said no money allocated to the CDC for injury prevention "may be used to advocate or promote gun control."

In principle, the language merely forbids advocacy; in practice, the vague language of the amendment blocked any significant federal funding of research into the societal or epidemiological causes of gun violence, since such work could have been used to promote gun control. Though Congress eased up the language in 2018 and began budgeting money to allow such research in 2020, the result was more than two decades during which there was little scientific research into the public health aspects -- causes and prevention -- of gun violence in the United States that could be used to support policymaking.

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    Kudos for calling this out. I suppose the "thoughts and prayers" lot will be keeping mum on that. Commented Jan 31, 2023 at 19:46
  • Its unfortunate that this was accepted as the answer. There are a lot of studies on gun violence, guns, gun control, and research into causes and efficacy of laws. This excuse is brought up all the time, but its as much misinformation as you can get. The amendment did tie the hands of the CDC, however, there are plenty of universities that DID research these very topics. I suspect people don't like talking about the research that is available is because it is not nearly as damning as people want it to be and it debunks a couple of reoccurring political talking points.
    – David S
    Commented Jan 31, 2023 at 23:16
  • @DavidS Name two. Commented Feb 2, 2023 at 0:11
  • @DJClayworth Azrael, Deborah, Philip J. Cook, and Matthew Miller. 2004. "State and Local Prevalence of Firearms Ownership: Measurement, Structure, and Trends" Journal of Quantitiative Criminology.... Braga, Anthony A. 2008. "Pulling Levers Focused Deterrence Strategies and the Prevention of Gun Homicide." Journal of Criminal Justice.... Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF). 1997. Crime Gun Trace Analysis Reports: The Illegal Youth Firearms Market in 17 Communities. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of the Treasury... Three for you, they're not hard to find. Most are behind paywalls.
    – David S
    Commented Feb 2, 2023 at 0:25
  • And two are about gun ownership measurement, and don't touch the issue of gun homicides. The Tiahrt Amendment also makes it pretty much impossible to get raw data for studies on firearm injuries and fatalities. Commented Feb 2, 2023 at 1:03

Has there been any discussion in the political sphere about why shooting incidents are taking place?

Certainly. That's why police and others always try to look for what motivated a mass shooting incident or a mass murderer. Looking for motivation is not done to justify that person's acts; there is no justification for a single homicide, let alone a mass shooting or multiple homicides. They want to forestall or prevent the next one.

It doesn't always work.

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    Do they really try to look? Or do they try to confirm their preconceived ideas (e.g. that it couldn't possibly have anything to do with easy availability of guns)? Commented Jan 31, 2023 at 13:04
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    @user253751 They really do try to look. Whether people try to do anything to solve the problem is a different issue -- and a different question. Commented Jan 31, 2023 at 14:26
  • @user253751 They are very interested in the motivation. If for nothing else to confirm it was an isolated incident and the shooter acted alone. You may be conflating media investigations into motivation and law enforcement investigations into motivation. The media is interested in selling stories. Law enforcement are largely looking to determine the facts of the case and eliminate the possibility of a future or related threat.
    – David S
    Commented Jan 31, 2023 at 23:58
  • @user253751 Finding a motive helps in proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Once again motivation is not a justification. Self defense is a justification. Killing a soon to be ex-spouse in the midst of a nasty divorce provides a motive but it does not justify the homicide. Commented Feb 1, 2023 at 0:39

The subject line and main text of your question are slightly different. To answer your headline question, yes, such debates are happening. But the issue is sufficiently politicized by now that scientific analysis will be accepted by many if it fits the preconceived notions, rejected if not.

Some argue that "guns don't kill people, bad people kill people." What that means is that killers rather than gun laws are blamed, without necessarily questioning the mental health of the killers. Becoming a criminal is seen as a personal lifestyle choice of the criminal, who deserves the consequences if he or she is caught.

Others decry that the mental health system has been slashed to the bone along with other social services, and that police and the criminal justice system are used as an insufficient substitute.

The main text of your question is "pushing" for the conclusion favored by just one side of the debate. Many believe that it is the right position, but that is a political position, too.


There have been numerous reasons proposed by both sides of the argument. Everything has gotten the blame, including mental illness, drugs, video games, the presence of guns themselves, and so on. The debate itself has gone back to the founding of the nation - The debate itself has gone back to the founding of the nation. Presumably, people debated the need or reasons for those laws. In the modern context, this article summarizes some of the lines of thought around mass shootings.

The issue has been heavily politicized for decades, with less restrictions on firearms ownership favored in areas that are more conservative or rural, and gun control favored in area that are more urban and liberal/progressive. Most people don't favor either unrestricted ownership or a complete ban, but the debate on the right/Republican party side centers around the nature and condition of the shooters themselves, while the left/Democratic party focuses more on the type and number of firearms available. Obviously, no one having access to firearms at all would prevent mass shootings, but enforcing a blanket ban would be impossible for a number of reasons.

Interesting, even as firearm owning households has remained relatively constant, mass shootings having risen year over year.

Perhaps the best explanation is one that Malcolm Gladwell proposed. Essentially, the more people that commit a transgressive act, the more like others are to see that it is acceptable. Looking at the mass shooting by year above, there does seem to be some weight to this hypothesis.

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    Until Columbine, no one had done this much. But now it gets ever worse. A SF writer who was extremely good at future predictions, John Brunner, wrote about mass killers in the late 60s. Either The Sheep Look Up or Stand on Zanzibar. He called them "muckers", rooted on "amok". No one really knew what motivated them, they were unconnected individuals without a common cause. But they were a recurring, well-known, phenomenon in the book. It was odd reading about them, they were only a minor plot point, but it made a perverse type of copycat sense. Much like the USA these days. Commented Jan 31, 2023 at 22:20

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