America is mourning over the latest mass shooting incident at a Parkland Florida high school that has left 17 people dead. Though unfortunately this is nothing new and seems to have no end as gun control laws have yet to be dealt with. The frequency of this kind of event is putting the USA as the highest in the world for mass shootings.. The statistics are frightening. There is one major shooting every two months, not to mention that approximately four people die every day in shooting events around the country according to the Gun Violence Archive. This staggering statistic is one the country should not be proud of. The Women Like Us Foundation is working toward a better future. We strive to change the world one step at a time and that means making sure that our community is aware of these issues. While we work with women-led nonprofits in specific tiers, we still understand the necessity of men’s involvement in facilitating change. No battle can be fought alone and the more understanding and proactivity we have, the better.

What all those terrifying events have in common is not that they have all been done by criminals, terrorists or the mentally ill we often hear from the authorities. It’s the fact that they have almost always been carried out by men. Out of all the mass shootings since the 80s, only one was committed by a woman, while more than 50 percent of the victims in shootings were, unfortunately women.

When you look at the pattern among the men who have committed some of the most hideous acts of violence in recent history, they frequently share a common trait of hating, and spreading cruelty against women. The source of this is often mentioned in the media as toxic masculinity. The concept of toxic masculinity is used in psychology to describe certain traditional male norms of behavior in the United States and Europe that are associated with harm to society and to men themselves. Such masculine norms include dominance, devaluation of women, extreme self-reliance, and suppression of emotions. Knowing all this, it’s clear that toxic masculinity can be connected as a trigger for the deaths of innocent people.

Early on boys are groomed and indoctrinated into a culture of gun violence. They are given toy soldiers, toy guns, all of which set in the idea that guns are ok and people are expendable. By their teen years they are given video games that reinforce the idea that gun violence is acceptable, this time in a more hands on way, where they are in control of the gun and who gets harmed in a virtual world. Through received accolades from their peers, gun violence is fetischized. The simulated violent scenarios depicted in video games can cause some who can't discern reality from fantasy, to think  that gun violence is acceptable. These toys and  games normalize gun violence and teach boys that these are the traits of masculinity. This frame of thinking can carry on into adulthood, become more malignant eventually escalating into atrocities, due to the glorification of violence imposed upon them in their adolescence.

Guns, convey the message of "strength", manliness and reassurance. They are also deeply rooted not just in America but in the whole world’s society and history. A man with a gun feels like he’s in control and that everybody needs to obey him since he’s the dominant person in the room, a typical sign of toxic masculinity.

Unfortunately, there aren’t many things we can do to change the world’s history and the position men with guns have in it. However, we can surely change the way men can act in the future. We can raise our children differently, shape their view on guns instead of enforcing their use. We can and must put an end to the numerous acts of senseless shooting and violent deaths by educating the public of the harmful effects guns wage against our community. It is up to women and girls, alongside men who understand their fellow males’ toxicity, to create change. Women Like Us Foundation will continue the support of women-led businesses, nonprofits, and women’s leadership to ensure that we are making the biggest impact we can.