Kaplan on Mass Shooting in Maine

Mark Kaplan, professor emeritus of social welfare at UCLA Luskin, joined Spectrum News 1 to discuss the recent mass shooting in Lewiston, Maine, the deadliest mass shooting this year in the United States. Putting the tragedy into a larger context, Kaplan noted that in 2023 there have already been more than 600 mass shootings across the nation, “and we’re not even done with the year yet.” That number is more than double the approximately 300 mass shootings from just five years ago, he said. Kaplan also discussed the national assault weapon ban, which was allowed to expire in 2004, citing a significant decrease in mass shootings during the decade the ban was in effect. “My research shows that the more guns, the greater the risk of these incidents occurring,” Kaplan said. “There’s empirical evidence that standardizing a federal ban on assault weapons could go a long way in reducing the mayhem, the carnage.”


Kaplan on Men’s Mental Health and Suicide

Mark Kaplan, professor of social welfare, spoke on WJCT News’ podcast “What’s Health Got to Do With It” in an episode dedicated to mental health care for men. The podcast focused specifically on suicide rates for men in the United States, a health care story that has been an “unspoken subject,” according to the show’s host. Suicide for men in the U.S. is an “underappreciated major public health crisis,” said Kaplan, whose work has focused on using population-wide data to understand suicide risk factors among veterans, seniors and other vulnerable populations. Kaplan noted that men die of suicide at a rate four times higher than women, but, he said, “When you look at age specific groups — once you get into older adulthood — the ratio is up, 12 to one.” Citing Centers for Disease Control data, Kaplan said that death by suicide is “strikingly a male phenomena” and that a distinguishing factor is their use of firearms around the world.


Kaplan Calls for More Resources for Survivors of School Shootings

Mark Kaplan, professor of social welfare, co-wrote an opinion piece for the Los Angeles Times about the effects of repeat exposure to school shootings on youth and ways to help them. In K-12 schools alone, 338,000 children have been exposed to gun violence since 1999, the authors write. These adverse childhood experiences can increase the likelihood of mental health issues, chronic diseases, addiction and suicidal thoughts. The authors stressed the importance of providing support to communities, noting that implementing gun reform is a very slow process. They suggested providing schoolwide services for post-traumatic stress disorder after shootings; access to primary care, family therapy and grief support; and more trauma-informed practices. Writing days after a deadly shooting at Michigan State University, the authors concluded that students “deserve a comprehensive, science-informed, thoughtful gun violence prevention plan that puts them first and works to change the structures that can lead to shootings like the one at MSU.”


Kaplan on Challenges in Implementing Gun Control

Mark Kaplan, professor of social welfare, spoke to Yahoo News about deadly shootings happening in California and the rest of the country. The government spends only a small amount of money on firearm violence research, Kaplan said. “Quite often with prevention, we don’t know what’s been prevented. That’s the problem. Because we don’t really have good research,” he said. Kaplan also said strong gun laws in places such as California are undercut by illegal trafficking across state borders. “The idea of piecing together a patchwork of 50 states and coming up with a national policy is almost impossible in this country.  … The problem is state lines, and how do we minimize the flow of firearms into areas that have very strict firearm laws.” The Half Moon Bay Review also cited Kaplan’s research into the relationship between social inequity and gun violence, including his finding that “there is a strong correlation between homicide per million and income inequality.”

Kaplan on High Rate of Suicide Among White Men

Mark Kaplan, professor of social welfare, spoke to KERA News about alarmingly high rates of suicide from gun violence in North Texas cities. Over half of the suicides reported in Collin Country, Tarrant County and Dallas County involved a gun. While white men make up about 20% of Collin County’s population, they accounted for 70% of suicides. Kaplan, who researches suicide risk, said men have a higher likelihood of dying by suicide than women. Major life events can serve as a catalyst for a person to commit suicide, he said. Often, suicides are not planned but are the culmination of stressful events paired with mental health issues, leading to a “death of despair.” “The presence of a gun, either in a household or lots of guns in the community, increases the likelihood of a gun death, either homicide, suicide or unintentional,” Kaplan said.