Mental Illness and Gun Violence

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Updated: Mar 28, 2022
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If you had the chance to lessen the likelihood of a mass shooting, would you? You are not alone if you feel that the same unfortunate patterns of gun violence keep recurring. You are not wrong if you believe that these tragedies could have been prevented all together. Firearms are falling into the hands of those lacking the necessary skills and proper intentions to use their weapons appropriately; to complicate the issue further, those who have committed a felony or suffer from mental illness should not have any weapons in their possession. Laws must be enforced and gun regulations must be tightened using background checks in conjunction with the establishment of a mental health database in order to ensure the safety of our nation.

Unfortunately, the immediate reactions following a tragic event involving gun violence have remained the same. Those affected, including the victims themselves, their families, and surrounding communities, cry no more, vow immediate action against guns with new restrictions, and point their fingers in blaming the National Rifle Association (NRA). As a result, the die-hard gun owners cling to their weapons and cite their Second Amendment rights, causing gun sales to rise, all while professing their allegiance to the NRA. If you feel this is an unfortunate pattern, but a tragic one all the same, you have come to expect this new reality, which is not an acceptable one.

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For the most part, when a preventable tragedy transpires involving gun violence, these two sides take aim at each other—the anti-gun groups against the National Rifle Association and its allies who are adamantly opposed to any new restrictions on weapons; however, a group whose opinion is distinctly absent from this debate remains the gun owners who favor tighter restrictions on firearms. Johns Hopkins and the Pew Research Center conducted surveys that show roughly 85 percent of those who own guns favor universal background checks, contrary to the beliefs of the gun lobby. In fact, these gun owners also “strongly support a federal database of gun sales, prohibiting ownership for those convicted of domestic violence and barring people with mental illness from buying guns” (Washington Post).

NRA officials regularly argue that many gun control proposals would not stop mass shootings. Through this profession of their faith in guns, the NRA invokes fear in the Second Amendment conservatives who insist that any inch given would lead to a very short path toward prohibition. The Second Amendment states and I quote: “A well-regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed” (Arbor). Let us deconstruct that for just a minute. By militia does that mean our armed forces, arguably the strongest and most highly trained group of individuals that defends our states and this great nation with whatever weaponry they have at their disposal? Or was the amendment referring to the everyday person, the minutemen, who could be ready at a moment’s notice to defend the newly formed states?

If you give practical thought to it, the militia stands for our military, who should be granted access to arsenals, and not everyday citizens. You see, if it was a right granted to the people of our country in 1791, then we should examine the weapons in their available weapons, which included muskets and flintlock pistols (“Second Amendment”). Both guns required reloading after every shot fired. Yes, repeating guns were imagined more than two hundred years ago; however, they were not readily available and extremely expensive. Having said that then, our military should have access to any and all weapons at the ready, but why should regular everyday citizens who lack training and perhaps have no desire to enlist be able to purchase weaponry not aligned with handguns or rifles, preferably the non-reloading type?

The last amendment made to the United States Constitution occurred almost thirty years ago and did not deal with gun control of any kind. Perhaps another amendment that establishes gun regulations should be examined under judicial review. The NRA’s website states that it was founded to ‘promote and encourage rifle shooting on a scientific basis” (“About the NRA”). Yet, they forged a path into political lobbying in 1934 and present themselves as the country’s longest-standing civil rights organization (Koronowski). Let us give that some thought. Civil and political rights are a “class of rights that protect the individual’s freedom from infringement by governments, social organizations, and private individuals. These rights ensure one’s entitlement to participate in the civil and political life of the society and state without discrimination or repression” (“About the NRA”).

When fear is instilled in a society, then in that case you are taking away from a person’s ability to do the most natural things such as going to school to learn and receive an education, attending a church service to exercise your religious freedom, gathering some friends together to see a movie, or attending a musical concert because that is something that will bring the individual happiness. This does not represent to me a group that is protecting your freedom or mine. In fact, when an organization places more importance on its right to bear arms rather than protecting the citizens of a nation, they are infringing on our inalienable rights and nothing less. For example, gun violence and mass shootings invoke fear causing angst or anxiety. The NRA encourages gun owners to purchase more high-powered weapons out of fear that someday they will be prohibited.

They make no effort to guarantee that the mentally ill population should not have the ability to own guns of any kind. With the power and money that the NRA possesses, one would hope that this group would utilize its platform to help keep these individuals from harming themselves or others; however, it seems as though their interests lie in increased gun sales and every person’s right to bear arms. No consideration is given to what weapon may be purchased and no attention is paid to the mental status of the person buying it. If they do not want tighter gun restrictions or limits on certain weapons’ availability, then at the very least they could find the common denominator in the majority of the mass shootings that have occurred in this country—tragic, yet preventable actions taken by men with mental illness.

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It is significant to note, “More than 7 in 10 Americans across party lines are confident that improving mental-health monitoring and treatment would reduce mass shootings, but there is less agreement that passing stricter gun-control laws would do the same” (Washington Post). Then I say correct the problem once and for all. The good citizens of this great nation and gun owners who agree with a federal database of gun sales, prohibiting ownership for those convicted of domestic violence, and barring those with mental illness from buying guns need to be heard.

We are the future of this country, the children who will someday lead. Let us move forward into this decade with the renewed hope that centuries’ old legislation should not be so impactful. Actions speak louder than words; therefore, act now to protect those who cannot help themselves and lack the ability to differentiate between good and evil. Let us remove that choice for them altogether, thereby ensuring that those who commit domestic violence will never own a firearm and calling for legislation to enact a stronger federal database of gun sales that prohibits ownership by these afflicted individuals.

Works Cited

  1. “About the NRA.” NRA.ORG, 2020, Accessed 23 February 2020.
  2. Arbor, Ann. “Gun Control.” ProQuest, 2020, sirsissuesresearcher,
  3. Accessed 21 February 2020.
  4. DeBonis, Mike, and Emily Guskin. ‘Poll: Wide Support for ‘Red Flag’ Gun Laws, Checks.’ Washington Post, 10 Sep 2019, sirsissuesresearcher, Accessed 22 February 2020.
  5. Jurand, Sara H. ‘Governing Product Safety.’ TRIAL, Nov 2004, sirsissuesresearcher, 22 February 2020.
  6. Koronowski, Ryan. “Everything You’ve Ever Wanted to Know About the NRA But Were Too Embarrassed to Ask.” Think Progress, 13 July 2019, Accessed 23 February 2020.
  7. Rosenwald, Michael S. ‘Most Gun Owners Support Checks and Other Limits. Where Are Their..’ Washington Post, 11 Oct 2015, sirsissuesresearcher, Accessed 22 February 2020.
  8. “Second Amendment.” HISTORY, 27 Nov 2019, Accessed 24 February 2020.

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Mental Illness And Gun Violence. (2022, Feb 13). Retrieved from