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Democracy

More than seven thousand people shared their best ideas to stop mass shootings. Here are the best.

Everyone agrees mass shootings need to end. But what can really be done?

mass shootings, mass shooting prevention, red flags

A makeshift memorial after the 2019 El Paso mass shooting.

As of January 24, 2023, at least 69 people have been killed in 39 mass shootings across the United States . The deadliest shooting happened on January 21 in Monterey Park, California, when a 72-year-old man shot 20 people, killing 11. On January 23, a 66-year-old man killed 7 people and injured another in a shooting in Half Moon Bay, California.

It’s hard to see these stories in the news every few weeks—or days—and not get desensitized, especially when lawmakers have made it clear that they will not do anything substantive to curb the availability of assault weapons in the U.S.

After the assault weapons ban, which had been in effect for 10 years, lapsed in 2004, the number of mass shootings tripled.



To find a glimmer of hope in such a dire situation, Reddit user Themissrebecca103 asked the online forum, “What could be done to prevent mass shootings?” and received nearly 16,000 responses. Many of the solutions looked past the intractable gun debate to the root causes that drive people to act out violently.

mass shootings, mass shooting stats, mass shooting history

Total Deaths in US Mass Shootings 1982-2021.

via Wikimedia Commons

Here are seven of the most thought-provoking potential solutions to the mass shooting problem.

1. Change attitudes around guns.

"There's no quick answer, in part because 'mass shootings' combine many different underlying issues.

If we are talking about high-profile mass shootings, our problem in the USA relates to several overlapping issues:

It is relatively easy to acquire firearms. The legal mechanisms to deny a high risk person firearms are very limited. Every country produces a small percentage of deeply problematic people; ours is unique in arming them.

American culture around firearms is deeply problematic. Other heavily armed wealthy nations, like the commonly compared Switzerland, make the use of firearms a responsibility of being a good citizen. American culture all too often celebrates firearms as an extra-legal tool for imposing your will.

The modern world is a lonely world. People spend much more time alone now. This gets far beyond the scope of this reply, but many of our traditional social organizations have failed to adapt to the modern world. Young people are increasingly left without a community or direction. This amplifies the above issues.

Combined, these speak to mass shootings as a consequence of low social cohesion on a legal, cultural, and institutional level. Addressing that is multi-generational work." — CxEnsign

2. Take mental health seriously.

"Make therapy more easily accessible for people who are middle or lower class. And actually take mental health and bullying seriously, instead of falsely advocating for it and brushing it off when people need serious mental help." — AshtheArtist

monterey park, mass shooting california, star ballroom dance

The makeshift memorial outside Star Ballroom Dance Studio in Monterey Park on January 23rd 2023.

via Wikimedia Commons

3. Do something about red flags.

"People need to have real honest conversations with their loved ones and friends when the red flags go flying. Many of these shootings are not random and the warning signs were present. Help that woman escape her abuser, tell your brother to grow the fuck up and stop being abusive, take your son’s firearms when you know they are an abusive alcoholic, etc… Most of these people don’t live in isolation and people turn a blind eye because they feel it’s not their problem or place to insert themselves. Be brave and speak up. It could save someone’s life." — SometimesILieToo

4. Change the media.

Shut down the news stations and pundits which are drumming up mentally ill people into thinking they're in a fight-for-your-life scenario which justifies mass murder to them?" — ConnieHormoneMonster

5. Foster the development of happy, healthy people.

"Usually in these mass acts of violence, there are signs that people see beforehand. Posts made online, behavior at work or school or at home, basically a known history of struggle. By the time the incidents occur, there's always a person that knew them before, that saw it coming a mile away.

There aren't really resources or protocols for people like this, and removing the weapons from their hands feels like a band aid solution to a much bigger problem.

Happy, healthy people don't go on mass killing sprees, and our current environment isn't exactly producing healthy, happy people. I mean, just look at how many of us are on prescription drugs because we can't cope with the way society is set up. We're on drugs for depression and anxiety and emotional regulation and hormonal regulation because everything is imbalanced. Almost all of us are poor, just a couple of missed paychecks away from being homeless. We're constantly seeking mental stimulation because if we have to think beyond the surface for a minute we start falling apart. We're battling malnutrition without even realizing it because most of us are battling obesity. In other countries the raw fruits and veggies taste better and are more filling, people will travel and lose weight despite eating many of the same kinds of foods, the only difference is the lack of chemicals and preservatives inside.

This society isn't producing happy, healthy people. And some of us can cope with it better than others.

Here, there are three options. You can work 40+ hours a week from the ages of 18 to the day you die and barely make ends meet, you can try an alternative path and end up homeless or close to it, or you can basically win a lottery that either lets you comfortably work less than 40 hours a week, allows you to retire early, or lets you pursue a lucrative passion that doesn't feel like work. Most of us choose the first option.

You can disarm them, but then you've still got creatives that will use their cars or craft an explosive.

Treatment is probably the second best option we have. Ideally, we would know someone that sets off alarm bells, and we could call a doctor for them. They'd spend a few months getting help, and come back better.

But that isn't how it's set up. There aren't resources for this. You can't force people to get therapy. You can't just call the cops on people that haven't committed a crime, because you think one day they might commit a crime.
And it sucks, because we all know the signs. Sometimes we try to call someone for help, and there just isn't a department for that.

The best option would be to create a better environment for everyone, encourage community and friendships and strengthen the bond between people to promote love and harmony, fix the food situation, fix the income situation, promote better and more diverse ways of living. Because if you don't feel depressed and angry and alone, you won't be at risk of falling into the mindset of someone who does these sorts of things.

America's gun violence is a symptom of a much larger problem, and the ones who want to fix that problem don't have the means to do so. The ones who have the means to fix it either don't know why it's happening, or don't care why it's happening.

Until we stop offering bandaid solutions that would be ineffective or minimally effective, we will continue to see this kind of behavior." — SourBlue1992

barack obama, sandy hook shooting, mass shooting

President Barack Obama delivers a statement in the James S. Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House regarding the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, Dec. 14, 2012.

via Wikimedia Commons

6. It starts at home.

"As a teacher, it starts with kids needing love and care at home, which leads to people having their basic Maslow needs met so they aren’t constantly struggling. And mental health needs to become a priority instead of something we mostly ignore in the US. Kids (and adults) seek power and a sense of control through a gun because it’s missing in the rest of their life." — Amherst 2023

7. Stop turning shooters into celebrities in the media.

I'm British. I don't know what's best for Americans as well as they do. But here's some thoughts:

I don't think you can copy-paste UK policy to the US. it's like changing someone's intrinsic identity. Take Iran for example. One of the lowest alcohol mortality rates. Imagine an Iranian saying to a British person 'why don't you just ban alcohol! It causes so much death. We banned it and our rate of mortality due to alcohol is one of the lowest in the world.'

You'd say something like "why should I give up something I enjoy and is part of my culture because a few bad apples take it too far?"

From talking to them, Americans view guns the same way. 'Why does someone else doing wrong with guns have any bearing on me who's just using it for fun/protection?'

I'd say a mix is gun regulations and mental health support and not making martyrs of shooters has the best chance." — allthetaimpdetime

Some responses have been edited for length.

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From political science to joining the fight against cancer: How one woman found her passion

An unexpected pivot to project management expanded Krystal Brady's idea of what it means to make a positive impact.

Krystal Brady/PMI

Krystal Brady utilizes her project management skills to help advance cancer research and advocacy.

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Cancer impacts nearly everyone’s life in one way or another, and thankfully, we’re learning more about treatment and prevention every day. Individuals and organizations dedicated to fighting cancer and promising research from scientists are often front and center, but we don’t always see the people working behind the scenes to make the fight possible.

People like Krystal Brady.

While studying political science in college, Brady envisioned her future self in public office. She never dreamed she’d build a successful career in the world of oncology, helping cancer researchers, doctors and advocates continue battling cancer, but more efficiently.

Brady’s journey to oncology began with a seasonal job at a small publishing company, which helped pay for college and awakened her love for managing projects. Now, 15 years later, she’s serving as director of digital experience and strategy at the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO), which she describes as “the perfect place to pair my love of project management and desire to make positive change in the world.”

As a project manager, Brady helps make big ideas for the improvement of diagnosing and treating cancer a reality. She is responsible for driving the critical projects that impact the lives of cancer researchers, doctors, and patients.

“I tell people that my job is part toolbox, part glue,” says Brady. “Being a project manager means being responsible for understanding the details of a project, knowing what tools or resources you need to execute the project, and facilitating the flow of that work to the best outcome possible. That means promoting communication, partnership, and ownership among the team for the project.”

At its heart, Brady’s project management work is about helping people. One of the big projects Brady is currently working on is ASCO’s digital transformation, which includes upgrading systems and applications to help streamline and personalize oncologists’ online experience so they can access the right resources more quickly. Whether you are managing humans or machines, there’s an extraordinary need for workers with the skillset to harness new technology and solve problems.

The digital transformation project also includes preparing for the use of emerging technologies such as generative AI to help them in their research and practices.

“Most importantly, it lays the groundwork for us to make a meaningful impact at the point of care, giving the oncologist and patient the absolute latest recommendations or guidelines for care for that specific patient or case, allowing the doctor to spend more time with their patients and less time on paperwork,” Brady says.

In today’s fast-changing, quickly advancing world, project management is perhaps more valuable than ever. After discovering her love for it, Brady earned her Project Management Professional (PMP)® certification through Project Management Institute (PMI)—the premier professional organization for project managers with chapters all over the world—which she says gave her an edge over other candidates when she applied for her job at ASCO.

“The knowledge I gained in preparing for the PMP exam serves me every day in my role,” Brady says. “What I did not expect and have truly come to value is the PMI network as well – finding like-minded individuals, opportunities for continuous learning, and the ability to volunteer and give back.”

PMI’s growing community – including more than 300 chapters globally – serves as a place for project managers and individuals who use project management skills to learn and grow through events, online resources, and certification programs.

While people often think of project management in the context of corporate careers, all industries and organizations need project managers, making it a great career for those who want to elevate our world through non-profits or other service-oriented fields.

“Project management makes a difference by focusing on efficiency and outcomes, making us all a little better at what we do,” says Brady. “In almost every industry, understanding how to do our work more effectively and efficiently means more value to our customers, and the world at large, at an increased pace.”

Project management is also a stable career path in high demand as shown by PMI research, which found that the global economy will need 25 million more project managers by 2030 and that the median salary for project managers in the US has grown to $120K.

If you’d like to learn more about careers in project management, PMI has resources to help you get started or prove your proficiency, including its entry-level Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM) certification program. For those interested in pursuing a project management career to make a difference, it could be your first step.

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