I am about to suggest something that will be considered heresy by advocates of more gun control, including the Biden Administration.
I believe gun violence in his country is a symptom of our lack of attention to behavioral health care.
I can see where the gun control advocates are coming from. They think the best way to solve a problem is to make it illegal. The trouble is making something regarding behavioral health illegal doesn’t solve the problem. It simply drives it underground, where it’s allowed to fester.
Consider Prohibition. They would solve the problem of alcoholism by making alcohol illegal. Of course, it didn’t work out that way. People still drank, but now alcohol was controlled by violent gangsters. Prohibition spawned evils far worse than those it sought to combat. Yet, there were those who doubled down and said greater enforcement was the answer.
Do you want to know what really ended Prohibition? Economics. The Great Depression devastated American farmers in the early 1930s. It was thought that allowing them to grow grains for brewing and distilling would help them get back on their feet.
How about the War on Drugs? I can understand tough prison sentences for dealers, but have long prison sentences for simple possession worked? I would have to say they haven’t. The demand for illegal drugs is still very strong, and it’s led to all kinds of evils, particular south of the U.S.-Mexico border.
We now understand that prevention education, counseling and rehabilitation are far more effective in dealing with alcohol and drugs than a strictly law enforcement approach.
Here’s a fact for you: the majority of all gunshot deaths in this country are suicides. Look how many mass shootings end with the shooter taking his or her own life, or being shot by the police. I know from a brother who’s a paramedic that “suicide by cop” is a serious problem. I suspect many of these shooters really wanted to kill themselves. However, they were so angry at the world, they wanted to take as many people as they could with them.
Gun violence is a serious problem in this country. However, the vast majority of gun owners are law-abiding. They’d never think of using a gun against another person unless it was self-defense. They enjoy hunting, shooting sports, or simply collecting guns.
Instead of focusing on guns, perhaps we need to focus on the motives and mindsets of the shooters. I’ll bet many of them had serious behavioral health problems. If these problems had been detected and treated, we wouldn’t have seen so many mass-shooting incidents or suicides.
We also have to recognize the behavioral health care system in this country is abysmal, at best. There is a stigma that’s attached to seeking help for behavioral health problems. When people actually do seek help, they often find that help is unavailable or very limited.
This must change if we want to ensure our nation has a healthy population. A mentally healthy nation is a strong nation.
It’s time we Americans stopped focusing on guns and started focusing on the unhealthy situations in this nation that lead to gun violence.
Guns aren’t the problem. Gun violence is a symptom of a nation this is sick. It’s time we started making America healthy again.