Local Cleveland college professors discuss mass shootings

6:53 PM, Sep 17, 2013   |    comments
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CLEVELAND -- Mass shootings -- incidents where four or more people are killed -- have been happening at the sadly startling rate of about one per month since 2009.

Incidents at military bases, schools, a Sikh temple and offices have all brought discussion seeking answers to prevent or reduce such incidents.

Cleveland State University professor and Levin College Dean Ned Hill is an economic development expert and political analyst.

But he's been devoting much of his time recently to a study about the violence, injuries and death caused by guns.

Hill grew up in a city near Newtown in Connecticut and feels personally moved to help start conversations that have an impact on this issue.

"Yesterday was just another obscenity," he says, referring to the Washington Navy Yard shootings.

The Newtown shootings profoundly impacted him, and he hopes to be contributing facts to help those seeking stricter gun control of semi-automatic weapons and big ammunition clips.

"This is a conversation about civility about rights and public safety. ... There's no reason on God's green Earth you need a semiautomatic rifle," he says.

His paper is being reviewed for publication in a public health journal. It looks at deaths and injuries caused by gun violence, breaking it down by race, geography and other factors.

He choked back tears, saying, "The ambulance that took kids out of that school ... those people had to look at 20 dead babies. It's too much. ... It could have been my kids."

At Case Western Reserve University, there's a center to research issues pertaining to violence.

Associate professor David Hussey works with the Begun Center for Violence Prevention.

He believes there's a connection between wall-to-wall intensive media coverage of prior mass shootings and those who planning future incidents.

He says research involving teen suicides already verifies the phenomenon known as "contagion," or copycat behavior.

"We typically see there is ample evidence it wasn't a random act. It wasn't a sudden act. ... You can't help but think about extensive media coverage and think about the impact it might have on angry, violent individuals who are beginning to contemplate turning their thoughts into plans and actions," he said.

Is America becoming numb to mass shootings? Do we accept them as part of a new reality?

Those in other countries are stunned by the shootings and their frequency.

Michael Donohoe is visiting from Ireland.

He said "From the outside looking in, it's kind of hard to understand why people are just shooting people for no particular issue. ... We don't have anything like this in our own country. Across the pond, it happens all the time."

It's also hard to understand it from the inside.

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