Trigger Warning: Mental Illness, Gun Violence, Mass Shootings
It seems that the only time America, as a country, has a serious discussion about mental illness is after a mass shooting. This is not only unfair, it’s harmful to those who are suffering from mental illnesses. Many people do not want to discuss gun control and regulation because they’re afraid of the pushback that they will receive, so instead they default to the metal state of the perpetrator. “Mental illness” is not a scape goat for attorneys to use on their clients after they’ve shot up a school.
The truth of the matter is, states with stricter gun control laws have fewer guns and less gun violence1. However, some states make it very easy for you to own and carry a gun, even in dangerous situations. For instance, in Nevada you can have a BAC of .1% and still be allowed to carry a loaded gun, but you would be arrested if you were caught driving a car2. Right now we have had enough mass shootings in 2015 to average about one a week. Gun violence is on the rise, mental illness is not.
About 18.5% of all adults in the US are suffering from some type of mental illness3. In class we have seen, through biographies and documentaries, how hard it can be for someone with a mental illness to cope. The last thing they need is to be used superficially as a distraction, or to take the fall for something that is not their fault. America is far behind where it should be in terms of mental health care and support. Associating mental illness and gun violence will only push our progress further back.
It could be different if politicians and other high powered individuals actually took it upon themselves to make a change. However, all that has happened is all talk and no action. If you’re going to talk about mental illness at least do something to change the way it’s viewed or help the individuals affected. Mental illnesses don’t discriminate and yet most people associated with gun violence are male and those responsible for mass shootings are typically young Caucasian men. (When young African-American men are responsible for a gun crime, mental health isn’t even brought up at all. But that’s a rant for another day.) There’s much more going on with gun violence than is being brought up.
Mental illness is a serious condition that many people in our country struggle with and we need to stop correlating it with gun violence.
1) Ehrenfreund, Max, and Zachary A. Goldfarb. “11 Essential Facts about Guns and Mass Shootings in the United States.” Washington Post. The Washington Post, 18 June 2015. Web. 18 Oct. 2015. <http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonkblog/wp/2015/06/18/11-essential-facts-about-guns-and-mass-shootings-in-the-united-states/>.
2) Nevada Revised Statutes 202.257 (http://www.leg.state.nv.us/nrs/nrs-202.html#NRS202Sec257)
3) “Any Mental Illness (AMI) Among Adults.” NIMH. National Institute of Mental Health, n.d. Web. 18 Oct. 2015. <http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/statistics/prevalence/any-mental-illness-ami-among-adults.shtml>.