Last week students from Michigan State University were testifying in front of the Michigan State Senate for safe and sane gun control. What these college students had to say was scary, heart breaking and making me wonder does our Country care about teenagers at all? These brave college students testified that in 2023, guns were the number one cause of death for teenagers in the United States (CDC). According to CDC data the number of people under 19 years old who were killed by a gun increased by 30% from 2019 to 2020. In 2020, the cause of death for 45,000 children under 19 years old was a gun. Imagine 45,000 children lost their lives in 2020 due to guns and yet our Country fails to act to protect children from gun violence. The Gun Violence Archive documented that the United States has already had over 100 mass gun shootings by the first week of March 2023 and we have just started the year. The Gun Violence Archive reported they have never had so many mass shootings so fast in one year and every year the number of mass shootings is increasing.

The students in Michigan referred to themselves as “the lockdown generation.” They reported how all through school they have had to practice to lockdown and shelter in place in case of a school shooting. In fact, for many students at the Michigan State University shooting this was not their first experience with a school shooting. Many had experienced previous school shootings in high school and had to lockdown and shelter in place until the police came to rescue them. The idea of having to experience your school being a victim of a mass shooter once is a nightmare, but having to experience it twice! I cannot think of words to describe it. The extraordinary and amazing thing about these students is despite living through this terror twice in their lives, they were returning to classes. They did testify to the Michigan State Senate that they were entitled to be able to attend school without fearing for their lives and they had a right to live a full life without injuries from being shot or having to live with the life long trauma of seeing friends and teachers killed in front of them.

Besides the students, what about the parents and families? Living through this trauma once is amazing, but having to do it twice? How do we expect parents to be able to allow their children to go to school not knowing if they will see them again?

Besides the deaths and physical injuries that mass shootings and guns are causing, what about the psychological trauma, anxiety and depression being caused by guns? As gun violence has increased so has the need for therapy for teenagers experiencing PTSD, anxiety, depression and the suicide rate has also increased significantly. We cannot expect children under the age of 19 years old to be able to handle this amount of stress and trauma when their frontal lobes of their brains do not fully develop until the age of 25. The frontal lobes help a person with reasoning and trying to understand abstract concepts. A person needs the ability of their frontal lobes to try to grasp what is happening or has happened during a shooting, but teenagers don’t have that skill yet.

Additionally, we are not providing teenagers with the mental health recovery they need after experiencing gun violence at their school, in their neighborhood or just hearing too much about it during the news. The number of teenagers being diagnosed with PTSD, anxiety and depression are at epidemic rates (CDC). Additionally, suicide is now the second leading cause of death for teenagers and using a gun is the number one method. Furthermore, we have seen a significant increase in drug overdose deaths in teenagers (CDC)

However, while this is occurring many insurance companies are denying claims and increasing copayments so many families cannot afford psychotherapy. Most therapists I know are overwhelmed with the number of people seeking therapy for teenagers. The situation is so bad that companies have been formed that are calling therapists on behalf of parents and school districts seeking therapy for teenagers.

How can we justify letting gun violence get so out of hand that children are having to be hospitalized, but we do not have enough psychiatric hospital beds or outpatient psychotherapists to treat the teenagers who desperately need help. Even as we see the situation getting worse by the day, our government does not act. We have Governors arguing to ban classic books and trying to stop teachers from using certain words which teachers need to use if they are going to include all of their students and doing nothing to stop gun violence.

I think we have our priorities in the wrong order. Also politicians are not psychotherapists. I think the politicians need to listen to the mental health professionals and the families begging for help and make the changes we really need to make. We politicized the Coronavirus and over 1,000,000 Americans lost their lives. Please don’t politicize gun violence because the trauma teenagers are experiencing they have to live with for their entire lives. We can help them learn how to cope but we cannot change history. Also do we want to lose 1,000,000 children because they have become tired of having to cope so they overdose on drugs or Jill themselves to escape the psychological trauma and pain.

The ability to stop the overwhelming gun violence is in our hands. Only vote for politicians who have the courage to stand up to the NRA and for those who do not, vote them out of office. We need to save our children and teenagers.

Dr. Michael Rubino is a psychotherapist with over 25 years experience working with children, teenagers, trauma victims including first responders. For more information about his work and organization he works with please visit his website at or his Facebook page at or his podcasts on Apple or Spotify.

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