Stop directly correlating gun violence with mental health issues

by Chance Page, Staff Writer

Debate has emerged in the aftermath of the mass shooting that claimed the lives of 17 people at a Florida high school over how best to fix the rampant gun violence that has plagued the U.S. for years.

One of the most common refrains from those opposed to gun control is that mental illness is to blame for these mass shootings, and that an increased investment in mental healthcare is the best solution to this problem.

However, mental illness is not the driving force behind gun violence. A study published in the American Journal of Public Health shows that those with mental illness are two to three times more likely to be victims of gun violence than perpetrators.  

Shifting the blame on to the mentally ill only perpetuates stigma against them and ignores the root causes of the issue.

An actual common denominator that can be found in these mass shootings, and in homicides in general, is that they are overwhelmingly committed by men.

While the vast majority of men aren’t violent criminals, this disproportionate level of aggression is something that we must try to check in future generations.

Furthermore, enabling law enforcement to act on credible threats, through the use of Red Flag laws, is another method of preventing gun violence.

Then, there’s the matter of the weapons themselves. While guns aren’t required to commit violence, they certainly make it easier to kill en masse. And while guns may be obtainable illegally, it would be substantially more difficult to purchase guns illegally with national gun control, as opposed to where things currently stand, with the ability to smuggle guns from states with weaker gun laws.

Increasing the resources devoted to mental health care is a great idea, as it will save many lives, and improve the lives of many more. But mental health issues aren’t a main reason for gun violence, and insisting that they are only creates a stigma around those who have mental illness.