How Do We Stop This?


Airman 1st Class Zoe M. Wockenfu

Members of the 436th Security Forces Squadron clear rooms during an active shooter exercise Feb. 26, 2018, at the George S. Welch Elementary School and Dover Air Force Base Middle School on Dover AFB, Del. Security Forces has developed a strong relationship with local and state police departments by hosting joint exercises where all units benefit. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Zoe M. Wockenfuss)

As you most likely know, STEM School in Highlands Ranch endured a school shooting on May 7, 2019. So far, one death has been reported, and eight students were injured. The question remains: How do we stop this? Is the answer gun control? Increased mental health programs? Something else?

The first thing people think of is guns. Many believe that guns need to be banned, or at least sold after much more intense background checks. So naturally, let’s look at gun control laws and the amount of gun violence in those states.

Credit to

Looking at the image on the left, there seems to be no such pattern that stricter laws lead to less gun violence. While states like New York and California fit this idea, Maine, New Hampshire, and Colorado do not. While I do believe that stricter gun laws will help reduce gun violence, this is not the entire solution, just part of it. If people are determined to commit a mass shooting, they will get a gun one way or another. We cannot stop that, even if guns are banned entirely (black market).

From the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention

So now we move on to the other popular choice: increasing people’s mental health. The image on the right shows the national suicide rate in blue from 2008-2017, and Colorado’s suicide rate in pink. The graph displays that Colorado’s suicide rate is significantly higher than the national rate. Why is this? While there are many factors that contribute to suicide, The National Alliance on Mental Illness reports that more than 90% of people that die by suicide show signs of a mental illness.

You may be asking, what does suicide have to do with school shootings? My answer: mental health. According to the LA Times, at least 59% of mass shootings that occurred from 1900 to 2017 were carried out by people who were diagnosed with a mental illness, or showed serious signs of one.

Mental health has been a problem for decades, but with the increase of suicides and school shootings recently, growing it becomes even more important. There are many ways to get help if you or a loved one needs it, including Safe 2 Tell, School Counseling Department/School Psychologists, counselors outside of the school, etc.

Mental health and gun control are both needed in order to stop school shootings, so how do we implement this?  The culture needs to change, and these problems need to be addressed seriously.

There are many ways to alert the government about gun control, but most of them have proven to be futile. Protests can be a great way to make gun control a popular topic of discussion, but at the same time, are few and far between.

Writing a letter to Congress is a great way to express your ideas about anything political. Colorado senators Michael Bennett and Cory Gardner have websites in which contact information is present, linked to their names.

Not only are Safe 2 Tell and School resources great options to increase your mental health, but Tri-County Health Department, Colorado Counseling Professionals, A Mindful Place, and other counseling services are great resources for anyone to use.