In the wake of the recent rash of school shootings that have gripped the nation, visited tragedy upon communities, and brought the gun debate to the forefront of political discourse, the March for Our Lives movement has planned a high profile protest in the nation's capital. According to the Washingon Post, the March 24 demonstration, with an estimated 500,000 people in attendance, will "demand legislative action in Congress that addresses Gun Violence and school safety." In other words, the group intends to have Congress pass tougher Gun Laws, making it harder for people to obtain guns, and consequently reduce occurrences of gun violence in this country.

A noble and worthy cause, to be sure.

However, the notion that limiting access to firearms will make school shootings go away is fundamentally flawed, in that it completely ignores the one common element and underlying cause of every single mass shooting: the shooter.

Restricting guns is an incomplete solution

We've all heard it before: "Guns don't kill people, people kill people." Its been the de facto mantra of the pro-gun lobby, and is viewed as the ultimate truth or the ultimate fallacy, depending on which side of the fence the viewer happens to prefer.

Those who find themselves left-of-center tend to believe that taking away the means eliminates the opportunity, while the right-wing crowd adamantly insists that taking away the means just leads the killer to find different means. Again, this is nothing new. I was in middle school when the Columbine shooting took place, and the gun debate has not changed much between then and now. Since Columbine, multiple states have enacted tougher gun laws in an effort to curb gun violence and protect their populations, but this year's series of school shootings shows that the state of gun violence in this country hasn't changed much, either.

So what do we do?

The debate on a course of action that will make us -- and especially our kids -- safer is as heated as it is hopeless. One extreme thinks the answer is to take away guns, the other extreme thinks that we need to arm our teachers (and everyone else, for that matter). The rest of us are caught somewhere in the middle, clicking "Like" or "Share" on a pithy meme that reflects our views with a bit too much gusto, and even adding the occasional debate-spawning comment, only to abandon the thread about five posts into the ensuing firestorm.

But do we, the brave and proud social media activists, the huddled masses yearning to not be shot, actually have the right idea?

One school district in Pennsylvania has taken to placing a five-gallon bucket full of rocks in every classroom, to be hurled without restraint at an active shooter. This seemingly ridiculous solution is, at its core, reflective of the public consensus: we need to protect ourselves, but giving everyone a gun is a really frightening notion.

According to Politico, popular support for tougher gun laws reached an all-time high of 68% in the wake of the Parkland, Florida shooting, with one poll showing 53% support among traditionally pro-gun Republicans. The majority of the population believes that stricter measures should be put in place in an effort to reduce gun violence.

Amid all of the widely supported gun control measures, however, is one nugget that can't be ignored: 64% of respondents support requiring that all students receive mental health screening in schools.

The Washington Post reported that Nicholas Cruz, perpetrator of the Parkland, Florida shooting, had "a long list of disciplinary problems and mental health concerns." Meanwhile, according to The Independent, Las Vegas shooter Stephen Paddock -- who killed 58 music festival attendees and injured hundreds more -- may have suffered from an undiagnosed mental illness.

The whole picture

While it would certainly be inaccurate to say that mental illness is solely to blame for all mass shootings, we would be remiss if we completely ignored this angle and focused solely on limiting guns. Youth activism is a tremendous force for change, and it's inspiring to see high school students rallying around something other than the nutritional value of laundry detergent. The March for Our Lives will likely bring about multiple pieces of legislation aimed at curtailing gun violence. But even as we're inspired, we need to be wary of over-simplifying a complex issue. Restricting access to guns might make mass shootings less frequent, but we've seen time and again that no amount of legislation can stop someone who is intent on killing. If we really want to protect ourselves and our children, we need to know why. We need to understand the factors that lead a person to murder, and we need to do everything in our power to eradicate them. Only then can we even begin to breathe easy.

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