Opinion: Gun Control, Mental Health and Donald Trump

A total of 13,286 killed and 26,819 wounded in shootings. Only in 2015. These are 13,286 people who never got to say “I love you” again, 13,286 people who never got to spend another weekend with their families, 13,286 people whose lives were unjustly ended.

More Americans have been killed by guns since 1968, than by war or conflict ever. Numbers show 1,516,863 deaths have been caused by guns, while 1,396,733 deaths have been caused by war or conflict, according to the Centers for Disease Prevention and the Congressional Research Service. These include the revolutionary war, the Mexican war, the American Civil War, the first and second world wars, the Korean War, the Vietnam war, the Afghanistan and Iraq wars, the Gulf war, and conflicts including Haiti, Grenada, Panama, Somalia, and Lebanon.

Roughly, only 1.5% of deaths caused by guns come from mass shootings. However, two-thirds of gun violence death are from suicide. There is an existing number of 88 guns per 100 people in the USA. Simply alarming.

The question is, when will this all stop? What does it take to end this era of fear, blood, and violence? Donald J. Trump’s recent calls and actions do not seem to work towards improving the situation. He recently blamed the Texas shooting (which has been the 378th mass shooting in 2017) on a matter of mental health. However, his remarks seem to be quite hypocritical, as he has planned to dismantle the Affordable Care Act, which aims to provide mental health care access to those who need it the most. If he truly believed mental health was what was behind the shooting, he would probably take action in order to tackle the problem. Even if he did truly believe it was, not taking action shows disinterest in a recurring and alarming problem. How can it be solved, if not even the president of the US does something?

 

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Donald J. Trump, current President of the United States

These remarks not only ignore the fact that the lack of gun control itself is the problem, but it also increases the stigma towards those who struggle with mental illnesses, as these claims “confirm” that all people who are mentally ill are violent. Although there have been some cases in which those responsible for mass shootings were allegedly mentally ill, such as the Las Vegas shooter, this is not always the case. The vast majority of people who suffer from mental illnesses are not necessarily violent.

Trump also has a history of fluctuating opinions regarding gun control. While during the 1990s and early 2000s he appeared to be in favor of gun control, when he entered the presidential race in 2015  his opinions changed. This was probably due to his involvement with the Republican Party, which is known for believing that every American has the right to own, carry and use a firearm. Trump even went on to mention that the Paris and San Bernardino terror attacks would not have been lower if bullets had been going “both ways” – towards the victims and the attackers.

The problem with gun control in the USA, in my opinion, is not an issue of mental health. To some extent, it might be. However, the whole issue, as the “Slate” would say, is a “gun issue, an anger issue, and a social issue.” It is an issue that can be fixed with policies, such which Mr. Trump should be thinking about applying if he wants to see a change.

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