Letter to the editor
Like all Americans, I was horrified and angry about the Stoneman Douglas shooting. We all want to protect our schools but the focus on firearms will only lead to knee-jerk laws that criminalize and alienate millions of Americans, including some of my friends who are former military [personnel] and own firearms.
It is nonsense to say that guns are not regulated. For example, did you know that possessing a suppressor is a felony punishable by up to ten years in prison unless you follow the National Firearms Act? People who’ve tried to join ISIS got less than that.
It’s not right to just blame mental illness and it’s wrong to stigmatize people with mental illnesses. However, many gun control activists propose laws that do just that. For example, some say that if you’ve been diagnosed with a mental illness, then you shouldn’t be allowed to own a gun. Many gun owners already hesitate to see a psychologist because they’re worried that one wrong statement could land them in a psych ward, which is a disqualifier for firearms. Why would you ever want to see a psychologist if you could lose your rights?
That said, many of these shooters could be called mentally ill. According to the United State Secret Service study of 2017 mass attacks, almost half of the attackers who used firearms were not legally allowed to have firearms, and 64% of the attackers experienced symptoms that showed psychological distress such as hallucinations.
However, since we were originally talking about school shootings, let’s look at what was going on in those incidents. The Secret Service also conducted a study examining 37 attackers from 1974-2000. They discovered that while only 34 percent received a psychological evaluation, 78 percent exhibited suicidal thoughts. This suggests that while many of these attackers may not have been diagnosed, they certainly had psychological issues.
People mention Australia, the U.K., and Japan but not Switzerland and the Czech Republic. Both countries have a lower rate of gun homicides than Australia and the U.K. They (along with the United States), have a lower suicide rate than Japan.
Some of these shooters had issues that should have prevented them from passing a background check, but due to government ineptitude such as the deputy in Florida, they were able to kill. Instead of trying to create a War on Guns, fix the issues that led to these attacks.