Written by Madeline Head
Gun violence in connection with mental health is a crucial conversation we should be having within our government. Over the past couple of months are country has been hit hard by mass shootings. The point of no return has arrived and it can longer be avoided. We need to start discussing gun control as well as mental health on a national, deeper, and more introspective level. These two issues do not necessarily go hand in hand. They need to be discussed as different issues before we group them together.
Our President does not believe that the two are separate entities that wreak their own havoc. Trump’s response to the Texas church shooting was “a mental health problem at the highest level.” Trump does not believe that these mass shootings are a gun issue. He believes these horrific actions and events are “mental health problems.”
The United States has the highest amount of gun violence than any other developed country in the world. John S. Rozel and Edward P. Mulvey, who wrote an article on The Link Between Mental Illness and Firearm Violence, state, “Firearm violence is a significant and preventable public health crisis. Mental illness is a weak risk factor for violence despite popular misconceptions reflected in the media and policy.”
If you want to claim that the two go hand in hand then we should talk about how easily someone with a mental illness is able to buy a gun. For example, Devin P. Kelley, who shot up the Sutherland Springs church in Texas, had a clear history of instability with gun violence as well as mental illness and yet had zero trouble buying a gun. This man tried sneaking guns onto his Air Force base to kill his superior officers. This was not his only offense that occurred within his life. Kelley was also court martialed for assaulting his wife and stepson. All of these instances failed to be reported to the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System.
To dive even deeper into this mess, The Chicago Tribune reports,
“The pentagon has known for at least two decades about failures to give military criminal history information to the FBI, including the type of information the Air Force didn’t report about the Texas church gunman who had assaulted his wife and stepson while an airman.”
The Air Force’s inability to report this crime resulted in Kelley being able to purchase guns before he attacked the church in Sutherland Springs.
Mental illness is a problem in this country. It is not a problem because people with mental illness are crazy and violent. No, the problem in this country is that majority of people do not understand mental illness nor is it discussed. The awareness for mental illness is almost laughable. Whether or not you believe in gun control you should educate yourself on mental health and the impacts it has on some many citizens in the United States alone.
The episode that occurred in Texas was one that could have been avoided if there had been stricter gun control. It should not be so easy to purchase an object that can end human lives. Trump has a responsibility to all of the lives that have been lost. He needs to do the right thing and promote stricter gun laws for the already victims. Also, for the so many lives that will be lost because of our countries inability to get its act together.
No matter what political side you fall on, it needs to be understood that gun control and mental illness could only go hand in hand because we as a nation allow it too. Trump has contradicted himself on the mental health issue, which is infuriating as well as devastating.
Peter Ambler, the executive director of the gun control group Giffords, expressed his anger claiming, “ Trump is wrong – study after study show that stronger gun laws can save lives – and a hypocrite of the worst kind. One of his first actions as president trashed a new regulation that would have prevented potentially irresponsible and mentally incompetent people from buying guns.”
The point of no return is here. Trump, whether you like him or not, has a duty and obligation to the victims and possible future victims of gun violence. We are not asking for guns to be erased from the earth. We are asking for a stricter process for the ability to buy a life-ending weapon. One bent finger could end the life of a human being. It is not too much to ask for a more detailed set of records, a longer wait time, a more thorough background check etc. Hopefully, through sheer will we can save the lives of many by demanding our government to use common sense.