Project tries to deter mass shootings

Rock Canyon grad works to understand, prevent tragedies

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Wanting to stop her age group from being known as the generation of “mass shootings,” Shreya Nallapati said she has continued to listen, learn and work to find solutions and answers.

Nallapati, a graduate of Rock Canyon High School, has been featured by Forbes and NPR for her work to use analytics and artificial intelligence to decrease gun violence and prevent future mass shootings.

In 2018, Nallapati started the #NeverAgainTech project. The tipping point came her senior year of high school when 17 people were killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. She wanted to find answers, create change and rewrite the narrative that mass shootings were a new “normal.”

“We started the project to see if mass shootings are predictable,” she said. “We wanted to see if we can pinpoint the exact time a shooting or violence will occur. What we have found over the years is that mass shootings are very random.”

That does not mean her project was for nothing, Nallapati said she and more than 200 members working with #NeverAgainTech are still working to understand why mass shootings and violence in the U.S. have continued.

“We have pedaled back a bit,” said 20-year-old Nallapati. “Now we are focused on the ideology aspect. We are shifting to a lot more fruitful method to understand mass violence.”

Looking at the U.S. Capitol riot, Nallapati said there is a lot to learn. With the #NeverAgainTech team spread across the U.S., Nallapati said they have focused efforts on what extremist groups are saying and doing, especially through social media.

With an abundance of misinformation and conspiracy theories spreading freely through social media platforms such as Facebook, Nallapati said #NeverAgainTech is looking at when conversations turn from simple banter and venting to threats of violence and trigger behavior.

“On a temporal level, we are looking at what the tipping point is,” she said. “We watch these discussions where the language changes from what appears to be joking to a more serious tone where they are actively wishing and pushing for violence.”

With the recent shooting in Boulder where 10 people died and the killings of Asian Americans in the Atlanta area, Nallapati said it continues to be “painful” as many of her studies and research over the years have pointed to an increase in violence, especially toward Asians.

Besides watching the online discussions turn more violent, Nallapati said another aspect of #NeverAgainTech is to research gun sales and purchases state by state.

“At the start of the pandemic, people were buying guns like it was toilet paper,” she said. “Pair that with the economic instability, job layoffs — you have a bad situation.”

As she moves forward, Nallapati said #NeverAgainTech will continue to evolve as it needs to. At the beginning, efforts were aimed at predicting future mass shootings. Now she will continue to research and pinpoint the causes and how to change society to prevent them.

“At the beginning of all of this, I was truly disillusioned with this country,” she said. “... How could we normalize this after Sandy Hook? I will always work to listen and work towards an answer.”

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