OP: Thousand Oaks shooting should spur a conversation of mental health concerns

4 December 2018

Logan Davel

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     The level of severity and morbidity that should be applied to the Thousand Oaks shooting is unarguable. This agreement, from what I can only hope arises a great deal of empathy, should spur a certain amount of change.

    This has been modeled well in the media as members of various parties stand to their feet and begin the same discussion that has followed each and every mass shooting. However, this begs the question, are we focusing on the right issue?

    Two main arguments towards a “safer tomorrow” arise from these tragedies. On the one side is the restriction of firearm rights, and on the other is the restriction of gun ownership on the basis of mental health.

    It is my firm belief that the issue does not reside amongst the further restriction of our Second Amendment rights for everyone, but rather resides in a systemic issue which is incredibly prevalent in our society: the plague of mental health.

    Our country, despite being an eco-political powerhouse on the global stage and despite being the forefront of scientific knowledge in many regards, has an issue with mental health. The National Institute of Mental Health has determined that approximately 1 in 5 adults in the U.S. experience mental illness in a given year.

    Additionally, the same institution has also determined that 1 in 25 adults experiences a serious mental illness that substantially limits one or more major life activities.

     Finally, peer-reviewed research written by Eric Silver — a researcher at Pennsylvania State University — has indicated that individuals with major or untreated mental disorders are significantly more likely to commit violent acts. This analysis is further confirmed with abuse of alcohol and drugs also taken into account.

    With this understanding, I ask readers which is more prudent: restriction of Second Amendment rights for all citizens regardless of legality or state-of-mind, or the application of resources towards restricting firearm sale based on mental health? Would it not make more sense that people of unsound mind were not allowed to own firearms in the first place?

    While this system is in place in many states, I feel as though it is not taken seriously, nor is it enforced with prejudice. The gun does not kill people, the person wielding the gun kills people. To place undue blame on the firearm takes away from the blame which should be placed upon the individual.