The Psychological Effect of Gun Violence

Written by:

Sarah Masih

Genesis Summer Intern 2022

Foothill High School

June 17, 2022


1010. 250. 34. 36. 42. 57. 63. 19. 47.

Those numbers are currently our reality. 1010 people have been injured in mass shootings in a total of 250

mass shootings just this year. According to the Washington Post, there were 34 in January, 36 in February,

42 in March, 57 in April, 63 in May, and so far 19 in June. Since the beginning of 2022, there have only

been 47 days without a mass shooting in the United States.

Gun violence has become a terror in our country. To the point where children are unsafe even at school.

They’re being taught to hide from gunmen and survive through a potential shooting. We’ve become so

desensitized to gun violence, that we shrug through the news of yet another mass shooting.

The shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas made a big splash in the news. Action was

demanded and denied. Historically, shootings increase in the summer months and without any change it's

likely the trend will continue.

Psychology professors say that the consequences of a mass shooting can be seen as a public mental health

crisis. The effects will be felt most strongly in survivors, but also family members, friends, neighbors, and

residents of the area. Even outside the region, people who see the news experience feelings of anger and

sadness. All these negative emotions are horrible for our mental health and can lead to stress disorders. As

we find mass shootings repeating throughout the news cycle, it's easy to feel helpless or distrustful. We

have to accept that what's happening all over the country could just as easily happen to us, and that's not a

fun emotion to digest.

According to the Scientific American, the amount of long-term distress depends on three factors: their

state of mindset before, during, and after the shooting. If a person was struggling with depression or

PTSD before the incident, they’re more likely to show long-term distress. Proximity is another factor.

Whether a person was present, in the neighborhood, or in the area during the shooting, they’ll be affected

on different levels. Lastly, how the person deals with their trauma afterwards is significant. It depends on

what resources they have – both emotional support and availability of therapy can affect their coping

mechanisms.

Now imagine all of those impacts, but on young children. The survivors of school shootings Uvalde,

Kentwood, Chicago, Houston, Charlotte, etc. Some of these students are under 10 years old and have to

deal with losing their friends, classmates, or teachers.

We cannot possibly let this trend continue. We promised to stop gun violence after the Sandy Hook

Elementary School shooting in December of 2012. Almost a decade later and we’re still watching people

lose their lives to the same issue. We’ve watched gun violence wax and wane in the news cycles, but it

never really goes away.

Tulsa, Centerville, Chester, Omaha, Hempstead, Phoenix, Philadelphia, El Paso, Macon, Summerton,

Ecorse, Saginaw, Andrews, Grand Rapids, Mesa, Chattanooga, Chicago, Baltimore, Portsmouth, Yuma,

Smithsburg, Decatur, Atlanta, Antioch, Louisville, Detroit, Denver, New Orleans, Austin, Indianapolis,


Gary, Roseville, Los Angeles. The names of the cities who’ve witnessed gun violence are our reality in

June 2022.


To sum it up in the words of my favorite poet, “It takes a monster to kill children. But to watch monsters

kill children again and again and do nothing isn’t just insanity – it's inhumanity.” –Amanda Gorman


Works Cited


Bates, Josiah. “Mass Shootings: Gun Violence Across US Likely to Get Worse | Time.” TIME, 8 June

2022, https://time.com/6185401/june-gun-violence-shootings/. Accessed 15 June 2022.

Blad, Evie. “School Shootings This Year: How Many and Where.” Education Week, June 2022,

https://www.edweek.org/leadership/school-shootings-this-year-how-many-and-where/2022/01.

Accessed 16 June 2022.

Carol, Christina. “What Gun Violence Does to Our Mental Health.” The New York Times, June 2022,

What Gun Violence Does to Our Mental Health. Accessed June 2022.

Higgins, Nick, and Claudia Wallis. “Mass Shootings Leave Lasting Psychological Wounds.” Scientific

American, 6 June 2022,

https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/mass-shootings-leave-lasting-psychological-wounds/.

Accessed 16 June 2022.

Ledur, Júlia, and Kate Rabinowitz. “Mass shootings in 2022: US sees more than 250 so far.” The

Washington Post, 2 June 2022,

https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2022/06/02/mass-shootings-in-2022/. Accessed 15 June

2022.

“Mass Shootings in 2022.” Gun Violence Archive, 2022,

https://www.gunviolencearchive.org/reports/mass-shooting. Accessed 16 June 2022.



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