Is it More a Mental Health Issue than a Gun Issue?

Tim Bean

12/18/2012

 

mental-health-therapy-780803I have written about this before, but since the tragedies keep on happening, I guess I will write about it again.  In July I wrote about the then recent mass shooting in Colorado during the premier of the latest Batman movie.  In that article I expressed concern, not over the use of guns, but instead what are causing these acts of horrific violence – particularly in young men that are of the so called “millennial generation.”

It is all too easy to point to the weapon as the problem, as evidenced by Bob Costas’ little halftime commentary a couple weeks ago, in response to the murder of Kasandra Perkins, and subsequent suicide of linebacker Jovan Belcher.  In his commentary Costas, while at times quoting Jason Whitlock, suggested that if there had been no gun(s) then both Ms. Perkins, and Belcher would still be alive.  Not once does the subject of mental stability get mentioned, let alone the issue of domestic violence – plus the relative dreamworld notion that Belcher wouldn’t/couldn’t have killed Ms. Perkins without a gun – as he was a 6’2” 230 lbs. in shape football player and surely could have over-powered her.

While I think there should be some sort of rational, and intelligent discussion on guns in our society, I keep on asking myself, and anyone else who cares to wonder with me, why no one even mentions the underlying; yet still 800 lbs. elephant in the room, which is that there is something seriously wrong going on in the heads of too many young twenty-somethings (mostly men) in this country that would drive them to commit such horrid actions.  I contend that these hate filled outbursts of senseless violence is more a mental health issue than it is a gun issue.  If a person is filled with such a need to kill, then even if we took away each and every gun, from all who has them, then these obviously deranged people will certainly find another way of acting on their insane urges.  In China, where guns are illegal, a man went on a stabbing rampage in a school; wounding 20 children.  In the Middle East, where guns are illegal, people strap a bomb on themselves, walk into cafés, markets, restaurants, and onto buses and then set themselves off, wounding and killing countless people.

Our politicians tell us after each incident that what we need to do is ban assault weapons; and that will do the trick.  Yet, in many of the shooting tragedies that I can remember (sadly there are too many) the weapons used were not assault weapons; they were handguns, shotguns, and regular rifles.  How would have banning assault weapons have prevented any of the past shootings?  It wouldn’t have.  A question often asked by those who propose the banning of assault weapons is, who needs these guns?  Well, quite honestly no one absolutely needs ANY gun, but they exist, and the vast majority of those who own ANY gun, including assault rifles, are law abiding citizens.  The “who needs” question can be applied to just about anything in our modern world.  Who needs a car that can go 200 mph?  Who needs a giant pick-up truck that isn’t a farmer, in construction, or lives in an extremely rural area?  Who needs to be able to access the internet anywhere they go via their smartphone?  Who needs a 64 oz. beer?  I could go on and on.  Obviously the difference is that guns are weapons, and since they have, and will be used in the taking of another person’s life, while the other stuff are just things.

All of this talk of banning though still misses what I think is the bigger, and more pressing issue, which again is the mental health of those who commit these atrocities.  We are not talking about a bunch of Richie Cunningham’s here.  These are seriously disturbed and disaffected individuals, so much so that they feel that a violent act of unspeakable terror is their only recourse.  When you come to realize that this is a mental health issue then you begin to see that the whole gun thing becomes almost irrelevant (notice I said almost); again because if a person’s mental stability is so off kilter as to drive them to a killing spree, then gun or no gun they will find some way to release their rage.

Please read this article from the Blue Review, called “I am Adam Lanza’s Mother,” about a Mother of three, where one of her sons suffers from mental instability that leads to violent outbursts and threats to her, and himself.  She tries to seek help for him, loves him, and at the same time fears him.  Sadly though, she gets little to no help from anyone in “the system,” and the Mother is told that really nothing can be done unless he somehow gets arrested . . . couldn’t/wouldn’t it by then be too late?

 

Be the change you want to see in the world.  (Mahatma Gandhi) 

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