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Reframing gun violence in a new light

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Mental health needs to be address to combat this crisis

It is an unfortunate reality that mass shootings in the United States no longer really affect people. News stories run for a day or two, and then people move on to the next massacre. Meanwhile, nothing changes.

The obvious (and by far most common) argument where domestic mass shootings are concerned is that of gun control. Everyone knows the situation by heart by now: one side is pro, the other anti. Despite each side believing it holds the answer, no clear solution to the issue has been discovered, so school shootings, religious massacres, and the like continue to go on.

While at least partial gun control will undoubtedly be part of what helps bring an end to these tragedies, an important factor of all these events is evident yet continues to be ignored: the problem of mental health.

It is important to note here that the term “mental health” does not target those with mental illnesses, but rather encompasses the whole of a person’s psyche. It would be unfair to claim all people with mental illnesses are a threat, because they certainly are not. The problem lies with the psyches of individuals who would even consider committing a massacre, many of whom have no diagnosed mental illness. The blame, therefore, lies with American society and the hatred and violence that the country’s name has become synonymous with.

The best example of this can be seen in school shootings, which have seldom had religious or racial motivations, but rather are motivated by kids wanting to shoot their classmates simply to try and outdo their predecessors in massacre.

On August 19, CBS News reported the arrests of six men who had made threats, in one way or another, to commit a mass shooting. One of these men, “25-year-old Tristan Scott Wix . . . sent several text messages stating he wanted to ‘break a world record for longest confirmed kill ever.’ Wix also stated he ‘wanted to reach 100 victims.’”

Clearly, the problem runs far deeper than access to guns.

Just as it is unfair to claim that all people with mental illnesses are a threat, if one is to be entirely unbiased then the flip side of the coin must also be admitted: not all gun owners are bad.

Gallup News measures the amount of Americans who own guns each year. According to their report from August 14, 2019, “Thirty percent of U.S. adults say they personally own a gun.” This statistic means that roughly 98 million Americans own guns, and clearly only a very small percentage of them will ever commit a violent crime with said weapon.

The point is this: America needs to stop focusing all its attention on one aspect of these terrible tragedies and accept that the issue is complex, with multiple causes. The solution to the mass shooting epidemic will encompass gun control, mental health, and a potentially large list of other factors, but that solution cannot be found until the country stops looking at everything through a black and white lens.

It is time to stop taking political sides and instead be open-minded to all possible causes.

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