Can shootings be stopped?

In the wake of one of the United States’ deadliest mass shootings, communities across the country are voicing their opinions on ways to prevent another.

Kauai is no different.

According to Gun Violence Archive, which compiles data about shootings across the country where four or more people were injured, there have been 141 mass shootings in the United States in 2016.

And a recent study by the Federal Bureau of Investigation concluded that the “U.S. and other nations with high firearm ownership rates may be particularly susceptible to future public mass shootings, even if they are relatively peaceful or mentally healthy.”

The Garden Island spoke to people on island to get opinions on what can be done to prevent another Orlando shooting.

“We got to revise gun control laws and educate each other on cultural differences,” said Bob Vieira. “We got a country called the United States, which without any competition is the most multi-ethnic group on the planet. We spend too many kilo calories saying that diversity is our strength. Diversity is our strength if in fact we understand what the diversity is. We have to accept that we are multi-ethnic and start knowing what that really means.”

Vieira said many Americans often don’t realize they have a “tribal element” and they tend to self- segregate when in large groups. He said people often fear that which is different than themselves.

“There’s that fear that if you’re different then, ‘What’s that? Are they going to hurt me?’” he said. “We’re still transcending that.”

He also said banning AR-15s such as the one used in the Orlando attack could help prevent mass shootings. The government should also differentiate between guns that people use for hunting traditionally and guns people use in the military, he added.

Education starts from the family and home, but outside influences can pressure children into making poor choices, said Jazmin Valenzuela. She also doesn’t believe mass shootings are preventable.

She said ISIS knows to target children.

“Their self-esteem is not that high to be like, ‘Oh that’s a bunch of crap!’” she said.

Valenzuela said kids and adults make choices based on what they have learned while growing up.

“I don’t think you can prevent a mass shooting,” Valenzuela said. “You can teach the kids at home as much as you can, but once they go out in the world, it’s a whole different thing.”

A 70-year-old Hanapepe man, who declined to give his name, said mass shootings are not preventable because you don’t know who the shooter is going to be.

“You can educate people, but you cannot determine who’s going to do it,” he said.

But Allison Davis said mass shootings are preventable if you are keen to people and are aware of their emotions.

“You can see the signs of suicide or depression,” Davis said. “Or a change in their demeanor. Like with this last one, his wife said his attitude just changed. That can be a red flag.”

Davis said we need to look out for the person who could potentially be a threat and could be the next mass shooter.

“The sad part is that it’s the people that handle the guns that kill people,” she said. “It takes someone to actually pull the trigger. Pulling the trigger is an action. When you have a mindset that says, ‘kill, kill, kill,’ that’s what’s going to happen. It’s the person.”

Maricia Kanahele said “we should pray” and “respect others.” She said treating everyone the same is key to preventing another mass shooting.

Yet, Michelle Ayau hasn’t even had a moment to process the Orlando mass shooting at Pulse nightclub, which left 49 people dead and at least 53 wounded. With two young children under the age of 15, she said she tries to shield them away from as much tragedy as possible.

“I can’t accept it yet. How do you explain it to your children?” Ayau said. “I’m in denial of a lot of things that are happening out there in the world. This shooting is crazy.”

Ayau said communities can try a lot of different solutions to try to prevent mass shootings, however they may not work.

“There’s all these things that people say we should do and it’s already out there,” Ayau said. “We can’t control people. We can only control ourselves. That guy might have been well-educated. We don’t know his story.”


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