Mental Illness. "Does Anyone Really Believe That?"
A take on Gun Laws, Mass Shootings and US Politics. Are we really still blaming the mentally ill?
It is only my second year living in the United States, and I have heard about more mass shootings within the past two years than I have heard in my entire life. What's more puzzling is that I've spent the majority of my life in a developing country where political instability seems to be getting increasingly worrying. For the sake of controversy, let's call this country that I am from, country x and regardless of governmental statistics, I argue that the average individual in country x has a level of education that doesn't go past diploma level (equivalent to a level of education between secondary and tertiary). And If your average citizen did manage to go to University, I argue that country x's educational system is far too outdated, and in a way stagnant. Particularly due to an ever-increasing level of connectivity and the ever-increasing access to information from foreign leading educational systems. This then translates to an unfortunate mindset that is religiously oriented, ignorant and lacking any form of creative or intellectual drive.
But lets not go off on a tangent right now, instead I shall save my view on country x for a later date. My point being, it seems rather odd that I am hearing about mass shootings in the US almost every other week. Since 2006, there have been more than 200 mass killings in the United States and according to Harvard researchers, the rate of mass shootings has increased threefold since 2011, occurring on average every 64 days, compared with an average of every 200 days in the years from 1982 to 2011. It seems to be the same old story, someone who shouldn't have a gun has one anyway, and uses it to shoot up a mall, a movie theater, a school, a church, a military camp and any public place that we would assume to be free from the threat of deadly violence. Yet despite this obsured frequency, it is continuously blamed on the mentally ill. As Barack Obama says on his statement regarding the most recent shooting in Oregon, "does anyone really believe that?"
The Second Amendment to the US Constitution deliberately states that an individual has the right to keep and bear arms. Whats more is that twenty-seven states have enacted the "shoot first" laws that allow a person to defend themselves in public using deadly force with no duty to retreat. Mentally ill and troubled individuals are found everywhere, but allowing one to have the right to bear arms, even for one's defence, allows for an unnecessary temptation to shoot. A gun is a form of power, and it is part of the human condition to seek power over other individuals. An ex-girlfriend of mine's father was a judge from Georgia (And the South is fucked up, I'm telling you). He had copious amounts of rifles and guns stocked up at home, and when I asked her, "why the fuck does he have all these weapons?" She replied, "he's a Republican. Of course he needs them to show it off". Let me propose a scenario, an uneducated individual is in a massive argument with his partner (probably somewhere in middle America), and things get heated, possibly a little physical but nothing serious. His partner starts cursing and yelling. Plates and pans are being thrown and at the back of his mind, a lingering thought comes and goes, reminding you that you've got that handgun you bought from Walmart sitting in the chest of drawers to your left. There are times when emotions overdetermines reason, and a temptation as powerful and dangerous as that should never be allowed to tamper with such a conflict.
You might ask, surely Congress should make changes to the constitution regarding gun laws. After all, according to a mid-July survey by the Pew Research Centre, almost 80% of respondents backed laws preventing the mentally ill from purchasing firearms, and 70% were in favour of a national gun-sale database. Why then, doesn't President Obama do anything about this? Well, those numbers don't really mean much. What does matter is the opinion of members of the US Congress. The 58-vote majority of the US congress is Republican and against further gun regulation. I argue that this is partly because the majority of those Republican's are a part of weapon-producing companies, since the weapon industry in the US is one of their largest industries, and yields enormous sums of revenue (Imagine the amount of weapons needed for the US military, particularly during the Iraq War). Thus, if the US were to increase gun restrictions, there would be heavy implications on the weapon industry, especially now that the Iraq War is over. After all, we must understand that the United States is largely based on Capitalism.
Earlier this month, a 26-year-old student at an Oregon community college fatally shot nine people and injured nine others on campus. Soon after, the shooter killed himself. What came next was a sadly familiar story. Like the eight people dead in a Missouri spree back in February. Or the ten people killed in separate shootings over Fourth of July weekend in Chicago. If you own a gun, or know someone that owns a gun, it might be useful to listen to some very insightful words by an incredibly insightful man. Have a listen to President Obama's statement regarding the most recent mass-shooting below: