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Gun Violence and Mental Illness

2016-06-13 20:31:48 by FinaLee

First of all, and I think this is the most important thing to say above all else; mass shootings are both complex and uncommon (yes even in America), qualities that make translating information into statistical models very difficult. There is usually never one singular cause to point to when it comes to a violent gun crime. Each case must be judged based on the context and circumstance surrounding the incident, because results gathered show that motives are different and at varying degrees from each other. Our criminal code reflects this (first degree, second, third, involuntary…).

That being said, there is hardly any evidence supporting a correlation between a propensity for violent gun crime and mental illness in the individual. In fact, people with mental illnesses are more likely to be victims rather than aggressors. Even if there was a link, we would have to undergo the laborious task of defining what "mental illness" actually is. This is may not sound that bad, but you have to understand that the field of psychology redefines mental conditions all the time. Conditions like schizophrenia were once thought to be benign while homosexuality was considered a mental disorder. Of course, once a definition is changed that dramatically, the older statistical data is now faulty.

That isn't to say that mental illness has no role in gun violence. As I recall, half of the CDC's reported gun violence deaths in 2013 were from suicide. Medical background checks alone, however, will not curb mass shootings. I believe universal background checks, understanding and eliminating the cultural fear between certain groups, and a vetting process that demonstrates responsible gun ownership will be the most effective in stemming mass shootings.


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