Mental Illness and Gun Violence Essay

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Abstract

This paper will examine the issues of gun violence and the necessary processes to reduce gun violence in the United States. A main issue is the necessity to have and own automatic and semi-automatic rifles as they serve no purpose. Another concern is mental illnesses and disorders as they raise concerns as to whether people with these issues should be allowed to purchase firearms. In addition, it addresses the system of unlicensed sellers, private sellers, and gun shows as they lack the necessary processes to protect the public. The solution to these issues is the removal and ban of all automatic and semi-automatic rifles. Emplacing a mental health evaluation test for illnesses and disorders. Enforcing stronger regulations for unlicensed sellers, private sellers, and gun shows. Therefore, the goal of this paper is to reduce gun violence in the United States.

Gun Control

A serious issue that affects the American public is gun violence. This has been an ongoing issue in the United States for many decades. However, in recent years it has been dramatically increasing and affecting millions of people. A main concern is the use and necessity of automatic and semi-automatic rifles as they raise the concern of many people in the United States as they feel they are unnecessary. People who suffer from mental illnesses and disorders are more likely to use a firearm in a hostile manner adding to the effect of gun violence. Lastly, gun shows and private sellers lack many necessary processes to protect the public. There have been many protests and movements by the people to resolve these issues and keep them under control; however, there have not been many legal actions taken to reduce this problem. To properly address these situations, the United States needs to ban and remove all automatic and semi-automatic rifles from stores as well as properly remove these types of firearms from the public. The federal law should impose laws affiliating with mental illnesses and disorders by adding a mental health evaluation test before being able to purchase a firearm. Also, enforcing gun shows and private sellers to do necessary processes such as licensed sellers should close the gun show loophole. Therefore, the solution to reduce gun violence in the United States includes banning automatic and semi-automatic rifles, adding mental health evaluation tests, and stronger regulations for unlicensed sellers, private sellers, and gun shows.

A major issue is the necessity of automatic and semi-automatic rifles as they serve no use or purpose to the general public. Many citizens of the United States have addressed this issue with protests and movements on banning these rifles. There is a huge controversy around how they have no use as they were once used for hunting and other purposes, which are no longer needed. Now they are used for ranges or self-purposes, which seem unnecessary as mass shootings are carried out with these rifles. According to Young (1997), he disagrees with the statement from the National Rifle Associations (NRA), stating assault rifles are legitimate hunting and targeting shooting weapons (p. 637). Even though two-thirds of the public supports the decision to ban assault rifles because they have no legitimate use and promote possible dangers. Throughout the years there have been many cases of mass shootings, school shootings, and murders carried out by these rifles. For example, Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut, Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, and the Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado are horrific scenes of people using firearms to take multiple innocent lives. Thus, reinforcing the idea of the removal and ban of all automatic and semi-automatic rifles to protect the general public.

The issue with gun violence is that it is rapidly increasing, as well as mental illnesses, which is concerning because people with mental illnesses or disorders are the main offenders in gun violence. According to O’Donnell (2016, p. 487), O’Donnell believes that federal law should target individuals with mental health illnesses and people with aggressive tendencies, which include violent history and substance abuse as they are more commonly the offenders. In addition, there is a portion of the population with mental illnesses and disorders who use a firearm to take their life as they believe it is the only way. Adding the necessity of stricter laws involving people with mental illnesses to not only protect the public but also to protect themselves. Furthermore, most of the horrific gun violence acts such as mass shootings have been proven to mostly be carried out by people linked with mental illnesses and disorders. Mental disorders and illnesses are to blame for more than half the mass shootings since the 1900s (Philpott‐Jones, 2018, p. 8). These are only some of the acts proven to be the cause of people with mental disorders and illnesses having access to firearms. Further research can be done to prove smaller acts of gun violence can be the result of mental illnesses or disorders. Another piece of evidence from Sean Philpott‐Jones (2018, p. 8), Philpott‐Jones has proof states do not submit their mental health evaluation test to the NICS. This allows people with mental disorders and illnesses to obtain a firearm. Thus, proving that the United States lacks many necessary requirements for mental health evaluation testing, which allows unsuitable people to buy firearms.

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Lastly, unlicensed sellers, gun shows, and private sellers lack many necessary processes to protect the public. A lot of controversy comes from banning or setting higher restrictions on unlicensed sellers, gun shows, and private sellers. As gun shows sell a mass amount of firearms without completing the necessary processes to be able to track and confirm where the firearms are going. According to (Stroebe, Leander, and Kruglanski, 2017), unlicensed sellers, gun shows, and private sellers do not require background checks even though the federal law requires a minimum age of 18, although it is not strictly enforced in these events (p. 3). Thus, allowing people with mental disorders, mental illnesses, criminals, and in some cases, young adults to purchase a firearm without regulations. A huge portion of illegal firearm sales is through unlicensed sellers and private sellers. The research found that a majority of young adults and inmates have admitted that they acquired their firearms through unlicensed and private sellers with cash purchases (Morselli, 2002, p. 259). Allowing younger adults who are underage to acquire a firearm or criminals, leads to a lot of gun charges for underage adults and puts a lot of young people in jail. Also, there is easier access for young adults to bring these firearms to school or make mistakes they will regret. When criminals acquire a firearm they are more likely to commit another crime involving the firearm. If a criminal is associated with a gang then multiple illegal firearms are used throughout the gang for more dangerous acts of violence. This proves that unlicensed sellers, gun shows, and private sellers add to the effect of gun violence by allowing unsuitable people to purchase them and federal laws need to be placed on these events or ban such events.

The corrective action to automatic and semi-automatic rifles could be the removal and ban of these types of rifles. As previously stated in Young's (1997) research, two-thirds of the public supports the decision to ban assault rifles (p. 637). The removal of automatic and semi-automatic rifles would deny the general public from owning and using these rifles. The ban would prevent gun shows, and unlicensed, and private sellers from having access to these rifles and would prevent any further murders or suicides with these rifles. Creating new laws to ban and remove all semi-automatic and automatic rifles from the public would reduce gun violence in the United States.

The solution to mental health evaluations could be placing an evaluation test for violent behaviors, substance abuse, mental illnesses, and disorders. Reintroducing Alyssa O’Donnell’s (2016, p. 487) research, individuals with mental health illnesses and people with aggressive tendencies, which include violent history and substance abuse as they are more commonly the offenders. Therefore, being able to test for types of aggression could prevent acts of vengeance, impulse rage, and possible hate crimes. Reinstating Sean Philpott‐Jones’ (2018) idea on how mental disorders and mental illnesses are to blame for more than half the mass shootings since 1900 (p. 8). Another possibility is substance abuse, how illegal drugs affect the brain to prevent people from harming themselves or others. Testing for illnesses like depression, anxiety, stress, bipolar, and many other illnesses could prevent suicides. Lastly, testing for disorders like post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), schizophrenia, and borderline personality to prevent possible murders, mass shootings, and harm to themselves. All these issues could be resolved with a mental health evaluation test to lower murder rates, crime rates, and suicide rates with a firearm.

Lastly, enforcing stronger regulations for unlicensed sellers, private sellers, and gun shows by enforcing background checks, stricter age limits, enforcing records of all purchases, and the removal of unlicensed sellers and private sellers. Reinstating from (Stroebe, Leander, and Kruglanski, 2017) research, federal law requires a minimum age of 18 to purchase a firearm, although it is not strictly enforced at these events. Thus, allowing people with mental disorders, mental illnesses, criminals, and in some cases, young adults to purchase a firearm without regulations (p. 3). Reintroducing Morselli’s (2002) work, Morselli states that firearms purchased through private sellers come from familiar sources, and enforcing stronger background checks to track private sellers will reduce gun violence. Also, a majority of young adults and inmates have admitted that they acquired their firearms through private sellers with cash purchases (p. 259). Enforcing stronger background checks will ensure that people with criminal records cannot obtain a firearm. Also, making regulations to prevent people with mental illnesses and disorders from obtaining a firearm to protect themselves and harming others. These solutions will solve the gun show loopholes, which will also regulate private sellers and unlicensed sellers.

The United States needs to reduce gun violence by banning automatic and semi-automatic rifles, adding a mental health evaluation test, and stronger regulations for unlicensed sellers, private sellers, and gun shows. Gun violence has been rapidly increasing over the years and affecting public safety for millions. Problems arise because the general public wants certain issues to be resolved. For instance, the necessity of automatic and semi-automatic rifles, how unsuitable people acquire a firearm, and the flawed processes in obtaining a firearm because these issues create an unsafe environment for the public. The ban and removal of automatic and semi-automatic rifles resolve the necessity of them. Creating mental health evaluation tests to prevent unsuitable people from acquiring a firearm. Then forcing unlicensed sellers, private sellers, and gun shows to do stronger background checks, require mental health evaluation tests, track firearms, and stricter age limits to close gun show loopholes and minimize unlicensed and private sellers. By resolving these issues effectively, the overall gun violence in the United States should be reduced.

References

  1. O’Donnell, A. D. (2016). Monsters, myths, and mental illness: A two-step approach to reducing gun violence in the United States. Southern California Interdisciplinary Law Journal, 25(2), 475–502. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com.ezgcc.vccs.edu:2048/login.aspx?direct=true&db=a9h&AN=120955500&site=ehost-live&scope=site
  2. Philpott, J. S. (2018). Mass shootings, mental illness, and gun control. Hastings Center Report, 48(2), 7–9. https://doi.org/10.1002/hast.832
  3. Stroebe, W., Leander, N. P., & Kruglanski, A. W. (2017). The impact of the Orlando mass shooting on fear of victimization and gun-purchasing intentions: Not what one might expect. PLoS ONE, 12(8), 1–15. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0182408
  4. Morselli, C. (2002). The relational dynamics of illegal firearm transactions. Canadian Journal of Criminology, 44(3), 255–276. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=a9h&AN=7195964&site=ehost-live&scope=site
  5. Young, J. T., & Hemenway, D. (1996). The polls -- Trends: Guns. Public Opinion Quarterly, 60(4), 634. https://doi.org/10.1086/297778
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