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A Cascade of Gun Violence

This is a rather sensitive topic to blog about, as many have very emotional opinions on gun violence and gun rights. However, one feeling is certainly unanimous: there have been a disgusting amount of mass shootings in the past couple of weeks, and it is absolutely unacceptable.

The article linked on this post shows a data visualization of mass shootings, graphing rate of occurrence and casualties for incidents in the past several years. Almost all the data draws the same picture. In the past four years gun violence prevalence has increased almost four-fold, with few weeks devoid of any incidents. Alongside, average casualties are steadily increasing. The visualizations aid in showing the outcome, yet they fail to describe the cause. It is possible that the pattern of mass shootings in the past years resembles a network cascade.

Indeed, the network in question is a modern-day interpretation of the term applicable particularly to the modern day. It is not a network of just people, but a network consisting of isolated individuals and sensationalized media. With every incident, news agencies generate infamy and recognition for the shooters. Because of this, it could be said that they are the first “adopters” of the act. (Of course, these news outlets are not advocating for the violence, quite the contrary. However, the people who commit such crimes are clearly not looking for acceptance, but rather notoriety.) With the increasing commonality (I hate that I have to use that word) of in-depth shooting coverage, more and more potential shooters begin to accept it as an outlet for their instability. They are people with few connections, so they are not part of a tightly connected cluster which can influence the decision. As a result, each reported incident significantly brings the potential criminal closer to tipping point. And so more stories of mass shootings are aired. And so more people reach their tipping point. And so more shootings happen. It needs to stop, one way or another.

(As I was typing this, another shooting happened. It’s horrifying)


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