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Guns in America

How Gun Violence Can Be Avoided by Improving Mental Health



A woman with brown hair, wearing a black and white shirt, looking at the camera with a white background.
Boston, MA

I do not believe in banning firearms. From my perspective, the recent cause of the upsurge in violence is the failure of our medical system to diagnose and treat mental illness, the overwhelming influence of the internet and social media, the lack of law enforcement, and the lack of appropriate gun ownership requirements.

Let’s look at just a few of the most recent events. The Tsarnaev brothers used a pressure cooker to bomb the Boston Marathon, the recent killings in Toronto were perpetrated by a man driving a rental van, the Russian government is allegedly using chemical weapons to poison its citizens, a member of my own community used a household knife to murder a young woman studying in our local library; just like a pressure cooker, a van, and a household knife, a gun is an inanimate object, just a piece of metal. The problem runs much deeper than the methods used to perpetrate crimes.

In common language, we would call a person who commits a crime crazy, a lunatic, a sociopath. I believe that most of the suspects are suffering from mental illness.

Without going into the pros and cons of our healthcare system, I believe that it is very difficult to obtain appropriate treatment for mental health issues. We need to find a way to keep weapons out of the hands of mentally disturbed individuals.

I do believe that there should be very strict requirements attached to gun ownership. As a mother of a high-school senior, I have been helping my son complete college applications. To get into college, you have to provide a myriad of personal information. Numerous letters of recommendation describing the applicant’s character and achievements, parental work history, tax returns, test scores—it’s a daunting process just to apply to college, yet the laws are rather lax when it comes to gun ownership.

There should be an intense background check through a national registry, not a local one. If there are any arrests or infractions, the person should be denied, no questions asked. There should be a waiting period, perhaps a requirement of recommendations from employers, clergy, community representatives, etc., vouching for the person’s character and mental stability. Will this happen? Doubtful. Yet, without stricter requirements and enforcements, the killing will continue.

We all know that the right to bear arms is protected by the second amendment, and it should be noted that there are legitimate uses for firearms that should not be denied to licensed, law-abiding citizens. Growing up in upstate New York, guns were very common, used for skeet shooting, target practice, and seasonal hunting. People respected the guns and understood their power. There was very little crime, and certainly no mass shootings.

Let’s talk about enforcement. We have a young man who recently went into a waffle house in Tennessee and started shooting. He killed four innocent people and wounded several others. It was discovered that he had a history of criminal behavior, one of the charges for trespassing near the White House. The charges were later dismissed after he completed community service. His license to carry a firearm was revoked and his weapons were confiscated. The authorities gave the weapons to the father, who later returned them to his son. Clearly, this was a mistake on the part of the law enforcement, and frankly, I believe that the facilitators should be held responsible too.

Many of the stories that we hear on the news confirm that there were warning signs that the perpetrator was mentally unstable, yet nothing was done until a disaster happened. The problem is not the gun, it is the lack of recognition and treatment for mentally disturbed individuals, and the failure of the criminal justice system to act in a law-abiding and reasonable manner.

1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Roy Murray

    May 13, 2018 at 4:09 pm

    When a country has almost as many guns as people, it’s not hard for anyone to become armed. For example, when guns are purchased at a gun show, no checks are required. Your point about mental illness is well taken but the Toronto van killer was regarded as weird, nothing more. Many killers appear normal to those around them. All societies have their share of mentally ill, delinquents and sociopaths etc. and a country is bound to have problems when this small but significant slice of society can arm themselves.
    One last thing; the Second Amendment’s wildly bizarre misinterpretation by the Supreme Court can and should be corrected. This is the same body that declared corporations are people.

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Guns in America

How Stricter Reinforcement of Gun Laws is Called for




A person holding a sign saying, "Protect our children, instead of your guns" at a protest
Colorado Springs, CO

I’m in support of gun control in America, but there’s a lot of disagreement as to what that means. Do I support a complete weapons ban? No. That is not only unreasonable, but also unconstitutional.

Do I support stricter enforcement of existing gun laws? Yes. Do I support more restrictions on gun ownership? That depends on the specific restriction.

According to our constitution, ‘A well-regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.’ All rights have some reasonable limits, including gun ownership.

Gun ownership is not a natural right; it is an insurance policy to protect rights from infringement. Do I believe an armed citizen uprising could overthrow a modern military? I highly doubt it, but I do not know what the future holds.

I grew up in a gun-owning family. Our community was very conservative and had a large military presence, so guns were common. Many incidents shaped my views on guns.

A friend of a friend killed herself at around 14 using her father’s gun. Her father was a member of the Army Special Forces, and he raised his children to understand the rules of gun safety. They were entrusted with the combination to the gun safe in case they needed to defend their home while he was deployed.

My father was the typical law-abiding gun owner until he wasn’t. His mental health deteriorated quickly during my parents’ divorce, and he became a danger to himself and others.

At his therapist’s request, he handed his guns over to his brother, so he could not harm anyone. If my father had been unable to afford a therapist, he probably would have kept his guns, and who knows what would have happened.

The high rate of gun ownership is the only possible cause of this problem. Everywhere in the world violent video games are sold, mental health issues exist, and teenagers bully each other.

What separates America from the rest of the developed world is the sheer number of guns out there. Strict enforcement of existing gun laws, gun locking requirements, and owner liability laws could curb the problem.

America needs a less abrasive, more open public dialogue about guns for anything to change. I have friends on both sides of the issue, and the overlap in opinions between the two groups is striking. While they are in agreement that some gun control is necessary, each side has misconceptions about the intentions of the other.

We can also change the way the media covers mass shootings. We are in the midst of a nationwide school shooting chain.

The media dwells on school shooters in a way that encourages other potential shooters to act. They become famous and their motives are analyzed on national television, which almost provides a sense of justification to some.

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Guns in America

How Gun Control Can Make Us Feel Safer




Author, in a long grey sweater, sitting and looking out of a dimly lit room
Middletown, NJ

I am in support of gun control because I feel something as strong and lethal as a gun must be accountable. It cannot be ignored anymore.

It is not a human right to carry a gun. People have a right to life. A gun can very easily steal that right.

While it was written in the constitution and the second amendment- it was written in a different time. Back then, people had muskets. It would have taken longer to reset them and put in a new bullet, and those were primarily used for hunting or in lieu of lacking a militia.

Now they can be discharged and reloaded much quicker. When you consider the time, it’s not the same. When you consider the constitution- it does not apply to the weapons we have today.

I can understand if you feel safer depending on your area. If you’re in a high crime area, like in a major city, you have more threat available than you would in a suburb.

I don’t feel that owning a gun in a suburb would make you safer- there is more risk in the household. That equates to more danger than safety.

The Sandy shooting made me more cynical. It gave me no hope that gun reform would be in our future. If someone can shoot up a school, and nothing is done to change it, it makes me feel that nothing would ever be changed.

It makes me feel that we are not protected, even as much as I want people to feel safe. Especially little kids who have no real concept of danger, or someone wanting to harm them.

The main problem is availability. A problem is that using a gun to kill is accomplished so much quicker than with a knife. They are not as lethal, as quick, nor do they give you the same body count.

When given both options, the gun will take targets down faster. The availability of a gun makes it so much easier.

Obviously, there is more to be discussed behind it, whether it’s because of anger management or mental handicaps- or being pushed to a certain edge. But it’s hard to tackle such an issue, and I guess every person would have their own process to get them.

With guns, there should be more processes if you want to prove you can handle a gun, have the right mental state, or the ability to dismantle one if there was ever a time to.

I hope that with all our generations, something can be done. Whether it’s helping someone’s mentality or doing some kind of gun reform or checks and balances- here’s hoping we can make the number of shootings a little less in 2019.

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Guns in America

How to Deal With Gun Violence in the US




Author, in a maroon turtleneck standing with their hands on their hips in front of a white wall and granite top table
New York City, NY

While I cannot necessarily bolster the conception that gun violence in the U.S. is directly tied to a single ‘root cause,’ I would not hesitate to suggest that many of the causes of gun violence are well-defined.

I feel inclined to first dismiss two theories I believe to be little more than distractions some people choose to use in the ‘gun debate’ and while I will exclude a deep statistical analysis from my response, I’d encourage anybody reading this to do a simple Google search on the subjects, respectively.

Gun violence is in no way directly linked to entertainment, specifically video games and television.

The research has been conducted and this myth from the 1980s has been thoroughly crossed out. If anything video games can act as an outlet for an otherwise troubled and aggressive person.

On the other side of the political spectrum is a myth that gun violence is a product of an entitled cis white male population. While there have been many white men who have committed mass shootings, gun violence is a significant problem in the black community, not to mention the fact that (once again) not every mass shooter is white or male.

The foremost issue facing the United States is the sheer number of firearms within the country. Statistically, gun violence is more likely occur when guns are on the premises. While this may seem obvious, one would be surprised at the number of people who simply do not realize this.

This, however, is a difficult issue to deal with. While more stringent background checks will certainly help the issue, other methods like gun buy backs have routinely failed.

Another problem, while too extensive in scope for me to cover here, is the crime rate among impoverished communities. This is a pertinent issue in the black community, but I believe that we can observe it’s effects on gun violence amongst whites as well. Consider some of the stereotypical perpetrators of gun violence, black men in street gangs and white men in neo-fascist organizations, both of which tend to coagulate in impoverished areas.

Yes, what I am getting at here is only the tip of the iceberg and I certainly believe some statistics would be vital to making a more thorough argument. Gun violence is not rooted in a single cause but will require a more careful and conscientious approach.

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