When looking at the increase in mass shootings, and increased gun violence in general over the last 15 years, there is a certain stance on the issue of mental health and gun laws that many people do not seem to understand. And that is the ability to have an unwavering belief in the “right to bear arms,” and the realization that fair, common sense laws, that are already on the record, need to be strictly enforced, and responsibly overseen. Especially when it comes to mental health issues.
Now the question “Why do these things keep happening?”, has yet to be answered. And with all due respect to the families of all of the victims affected so devastatingly by such acts, there seems to be no definite answer available. While it may sound like gun lobbyist rhetoric, there is truth in the assertion that if someone wants to do harm to innocent civilians, they will find a way.
Three examples speak volumes to this assertion; September 11th, 2001, Timothy McVeigh and the Oklahoma City bombing, and the Boston Bombings. Bad people; no guns; massive casualties.
While these are rare cases as compared to gun violence, this is where the enforcement and overseeing of current gun laws takes center stage. While I am no mental health expert, it seems we have fallen behind in not only the treatment of persons with mental health issues, but we have also fallen behind on follow up care. Not to mention the overall education of families, friends, and people in general, regarding the signs of mental distress; and steps to take when we suspect someone’s mental health is deteriorating.
While the oversight of gun sales, and keeping firearms out of the hands of persons with either documentation or signs of mental distress is just as important, the issue of mental health treatment and education needs to be addressed immediately. While we may never stop incidents of senseless violence, with responsible gun laws, we just may be able to prevent the massive rise in incidents we are seeing now; and in turn lower the loss of life.
With that said, it is against federal law to sell guns to anyone with a mental illness. Unfortunately, background checks are only required by federally licensed arms dealers. This leaves a large window for private gun sales(such as the ones at Gun Shows)to go unchecked. Implementing existing laws and closing loopholes for unchecked private gun sales, as well as stiffening the penalties for such practices, would seem to be a logical step.
Also, if we are to be held highly accountable for the proper registration of such potentially dangerous property such as vehicles, I do not see a violation in requiring the same registration practices when it comes to firearms.