The Aftermath of the 2017 Las Vegas Mass Shooting: How Survivors and Their Loved Ones Demonstrate Worthiness of Assistance Through Crowdfunding

The Aftermath of the 2017 Las Vegas Mass Shooting: How Survivors and Their Loved Ones Demonstrate Worthiness of Assistance Through Crowdfunding

Monica Bixby Radu (Southeast Missouri State University, USA), Sarah Kuborn (Southeast Missouri State University, USA) and Lisa McManus (Wake Technical Community College, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-0113-9.ch018

Abstract

Mass shootings are catastrophic events that terrorize individuals, families, and communities. Research suggests that there are numerous negative consequences associated with a mass shooting, including financial strain, loss time from work, and both physical and mental health issues. As individuals cope with the aftermath of these traumatic events, they often rely on their immediate social environments, including their family and friends. More recently, research suggests that the techno-subsystem may be an additional context where individuals find and obtain support following a mass shooting. Drawing from literature on social capital and ecological systems theory, this chapter qualitatively explores how individuals frame their requests for financial assistance through the crowdfunding website, GoFundMe.com following the 2017 mass shooting in Las Vegas, NV. This chapter discusses the implications of these qualitative frames, also addressing how various social contexts may intersect to provide support those who have been traumatized by a mass shooting.
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Introduction

Since 1982, there have been 110 mass shootings in the United States (Follman, Aronsen, & Pan, 2019). A mass shooting is an act of firearm violence that results in three or more fatalities occurring at the same time or over a relatively short period of time. More than half of all recorded mass shootings have occurred within the past 10 years. The mass shooting with the largest number of victims occurred on October 1, 2017 at a music festival in Las Vegas, NV in the United States of America. This shooting resulted in the deaths of 58 individuals with 546 individuals sustaining injuries (Office for Victims of Crime, 2018). The timeliness and severity of the 2017 Las Vegas mass shooting are why we chose to focus our analysis on this specific tragedy. Drawing from Folman and colleagues (2019), this chapter defines a mass shooting as (1) a shooting incident occurring in a public place with a firearm, (2) a shooting where the motive appeared indiscriminate, and (3) a shooting where a lone shooter took the lives of at least three people (not including the shooter). We chose this definition because it encompasses key characteristics of mass shootings that the general public may use to distinguish this form of gun violence from other tragic shootings.

Mass shootings are catastrophic events that terrorize individuals, families, and communities. These acts of violence often result in both immediate and long-term devastating consequences. Research suggests that individuals and families often rely on their immediate social networks in times of great distress. Additionally, ecological systems theory stresses the importance of social connectedness across multiple contexts, such as neighbors, extended family members, colleagues, and acquaintances from community and religious organizations (Bronfenbrenner, 1974). This suggests that individuals may draw support from various contexts in the aftermath of a mass shooting. For example, Liberty (2019) recommends that parents and teachers work together to help children and adolescents cope with these traumatic events. Following a mass shooting, both parents and teachers can help youth re-establish a sense of safety and predictability at home, at school, and in the community. Additional research suggests that communities may contribute to community members’ abilities to self-organize and make sense of a crisis following a traumatic event, such as a mass shooting (Xu, 2018).

Recently, research suggests that the techno-subsystem, which includes the Internet, may be an additional context where individuals and families can find and obtain support following a catastrophic event (Johnson & Puplampu, 2008). The techno-subsystem is a subsection of the microsystem where individuals can engage with human and nonhuman sources of information. Requesting financial assistance online through the techno-subsystem has emerged as an alternative method for seeking assistance following a mass shooting. This chapter draws from literature on family resiliency, social capital, and ecological systems theory to qualitatively explore how individuals frame requests for financial assistance following the 2017 Las Vegas mass shooting. This chapter will address the implications of these qualitative themes, discussing how various social contexts may intersect to provide support for individuals, families, and communities who have been traumatized by a mass shooting.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Requestee: A person who is the target of the financial request; the person in need who will benefit from the monetary donation.

GoFundMe.com: An online, crowdfunding platform that allows individuals to make requests for financial assistance.

Mesosystem: Part of the ecological system; it includes interrelations between and among individuals’ home life, school, work, neighborhood, and community.

Techno-Subsystem: A subsystem of the ecological system, where human and non-human interaction intersect.

Crowdfunding: A method of raising money through the collective efforts of a large pool of individuals.

Macrosystem: Part of the ecological system; it encompasses social and cultural values and belief systems.

Mass Shooting: An act of firearm violence that results in three or more fatalities occurring at the same time or over a relatively short period of time.

Requester: A person who is asking for (requesting) financial assistance through the crowdfunding platform, GoFundMe.com.

Social Capital: Relationships, social bonds and connectedness that produce social outcomes.

Microsystem: Part of the ecological system; individuals’ immediate environments where interpersonal relationships play a key role in individuals’ lives.

Ecological System Theory: An interdisciplinary theoretical perspective that suggests that individuals are embedded in multiple contexts, including the microsystem, mesosystem, exosystem, and macrosystem.

Exosystem: Part of the ecological system; it is comprised of individuals’ indirect relationships, such as a friend of a friend or an extended family member

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