While researching the topic of gun violence, it was clear that many professionals feel strongly about the topic of mental health, and how it relates to gun violence and mass shootings. Findings generally state that there is no correlation. Professional behavioral scientist, Glenn Geher, states that mental health problems related to gun violence are an ever-increasing problem over the past few decades. Geher claims that if mass shootings are the result of mental health issues, and if mental health problems are on the rise, then society can only expect the event of mass shootings to continue on a larger scale. Therefore, programs supporting mental health and psychology that detour individuals identified at risk – especially youth living in poverty – should be better funded and taken more seriously in a preventative step to avoid future issues. Other professionals (see references) state that the problem is found within the United States’ unique gun laws. Unlike other nations, the United States allows its citizens “the right to bear arms” in its amended Constitution, and sadly Americans believe this includes fully automatic rifles. These guns are typically the weapons being used in mass shootings whether the killer bought them legitimately, or they were reported stolen and found in the shooters’ possession post crime. If automatic guns were banned for public purchase, would mass shootings see a decline in occurrence? Yes. It is definitely a start. Preventing the sale of automatic weapons will reduce the number of guns on the streets, and therefore ultimately reduce violent mass shootings.
In addition to how mental illness correlates with gun violence, there is also the thought that video games, involving weapons and violence, influence people to commit crimes such as mass shootings with hundreds of people involved. Video games, such as “Call of Duty”, are based on the idea of being in a war battle. The creators of the game make something horrific like war into a fun virtual reality that most young adults and kids play. The game literally involves shooting other people until they die and rewards you for doing so. This is a clear argument for stating that video games certainly influence offenders into committing terrible crimes. However; scientific research says otherwise. Jonathan Metzl, the director of the Center for Medicine, Health and Society at Vanderbilt University states that “there is, however, no statistical link between playing violent video games and shooting people.” He also states that only 22 percent of 222 men who tried to convict mass shootings were diagnosed with mental illnesses. This seems a bit odd to me, Metzl says violent video games involving you killing people have nothing to do with those actions occurring in real life. A report in 2004 done by the Secret Service and the Education Department discovered that only 12 percent of the mass shooters had an interest in video games. I personally play these types of games and have never had any of these thoughts or ideas happen within my head, but perhaps someone with a mental illness playing these types of games would. I believe video games and mental illness are directly linked to mass shootings if the person who committed the crimes admits to playing the games. But with saying that, not every mass shooter plays video games, and most importantly, not all people who play video games go out to perform horrible acts of terrorism.
So, what actually causes these individuals to commit mass shootings if mental health and violent video games are not the direct answer? The answer at the end of the day is America’s gun laws. Being able to buy such deadly weapons for no actual reason is clearly unsafe. Who actually needs a fully automatic assault rifle? I understand a rifle or perhaps a handgun for target practice or hunting. But a fully loaded automatic rifle – there is no purpose to that kind of weapon besides strictly war and death. Having mental health problems is certainly a start to these kinds of problems, however, at the end of the day, it’s the gun laws that should be looked over and revised to prevent further mass shootings and promote civilian safety in the USA.
In conclusion, mental health issues and playing violent video games do not directly correlate with the occurrence of mass shootings. The United States has 400 million civilian-owned firearms; this means there are more guns than its total population. Mental illness is something that occurs across the entire planet and millions of people play violent video games. On the other hand, mass shootings do not happen nearly as often or in other countries where mental illness and video games exist. The truth is that it’s too easy to get a gun in the United States and also quite difficult to receive help with mental health care or awareness. If more mental health care options were available to those suffering from different mental illnesses, I believe there would be a significant decline in the number of mass shootings. As well as making gun laws stricter within the United States of America to prevent more future mass shootings.