Stigmatizing mental illness, mass shootings, gun control

On Nov. 5 our country experienced yet another horrendous event. A gunman that honestly does not even deserve his name to be recognized in this newspaper open fired at a church during a Sunday service, killing 26 and injuring 20 individuals.

I have always avidly, although not very publically, hated the fact that we have so few restrictions on gun use. It infuriates me that, although there have been a ridiculous and saddening amount of reasons to, it seems that America simply refuses to have the gun discussion we so desperately need. And now, when we have yet another opportunity for our country to realize that we have a major problem that needs to be fixed, our president provides completely out of line justifications over what he believes the problem is.

When the question of gun control was raised to President Donald Trump, he replied, “Mental health is your problem here. This is not a gun situation. This is a mental health problem at the highest level. It’s a very, very sad event.”

I find several major issues with this argument that our president and so many gun supports claim. The first is that this is, in the entirety of the definition, a scapegoat. This is taking the problem of gun ownership and all of the dangers that come with it, particularly with its lack of control and regulations, and throwing out the first thing gun supporters can think of that may be the issue: mental illness. Yet they also claim it could be terrorism, religiously fueled or politically caused. The only thing that all of these reasons have in common is that they are all flawed excuses that completely ignore the real problem: guns. Plus, in February, President Trump literally undid a regulation from Obama’s Administration that made it more difficult for people with mental illness to obtain guns. And yes, you can argue that guns do not kill people; people kill people. But the sad fact is that people use guns to kill people. So why do we not make it harder for them to do that?

Additionally, approximately 44 million Americans suffer from mental illness. Blaming a massacre on mental health issues is an outrageous insult to all of those suffering. People with mental illness are fighting their own battles in their own minds, and most of them want nothing but the best for everyone in their lives. To pin all of the issues that America has with gun control on completely harmless and loving people is the most ridiculous argument. It is offensive, disheartening, and downright insulting that our government thinks so little of those suffering from mental illness that they would even suggest that this population of people could be held responsible for the problem.

A major argument for Second Amendment supporters is that only some gun owners are part of the problem. Those suffering from mental illness are the same way. Only a few with mental illness are part of the gun problem, and yet even fewer of the population dealing with mental health problems are part of that problem. However, there is already, obviously, an intense issue with mental health stigmas. Those suffering from mental illness have made great strides to attempt to eliminate that stigma, and while we have made great progress, we still have a long way to go. False claims like this only further that stigma, making it harder for those innocent people struggling with mental illness to be accepted, loved, and receive the care they so desperately need.

So, you are right President Trump. America does have a mental health problem. But that problem is not in relation to your gun problem. It is because of how little respect and concern that America has for those suffering from mental illness. It is because of our lack of representation in government, and the fact that our needs in healthcare are not sufficiently being helped. It is because we have such a stigma surrounding the illness that is further instigated by those suggesting that we are responsible for the gun problem. And it is because America continues to prove to us over and over again that we are unvalued members of this flawed society.

There are 2 comments

  1. Harold A. Maio

    Stigmatizing mental illness---???

    We ought be educating people who stigmatize mental illnesses, instead we allow them to educate us.

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