author: destiny kaus | production manager
Picture this: a rifle is sitting in the corner of a room, outside of its cabinet, all alone. Will this rifle grow legs, walk over to someone, grow arms, pull its own trigger, and kill someone? No. Why? Because guns do not kill people. People kill people. Yes, heightened gun control laws in the United States may limit the chances of tragic shootings happening, but these laws will not solve the problem. The problem is mental illness that goes undiagnosed and untreated, or misdiagnosed and mistreated.
Back in 1999, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold – two boys who suffered from mental illnesses – killed 13 people at the Columbine High School shooting. According to numerous news reports, these two young men bought their guns from different sellers around Colorado. Harris and Klebold found a way around gun control. Yes, screening people for mental illnesses before they buy guns could be a viable solution, but people lie. Plus, if people are determined enough and build up enough hate in their hearts to kill people, they will do so by whatever means necessary, even if it means buying guns illegally on the street. Gun control cannot stop them.
Addressing mental health issues will go much further than gun control ever could. For instance, both Harris and Klebold struggled with mental illness. Slate News reveals that Harris was diagnosed by his psychiatrist as a psychopath, while Klebold suffered from depression and suicidal thoughts. Their mental health issues, which went largely untreated, drove them to act out the way they did, and the availability of guns did not. Increasing the availability of mental health supports and treating people with love could go a long way in helping people like Harris and Klebold, so that they do not escalate to the point where they see the only way to solve their problems is to harm other people.
More recently, in 2014, Adam Lanza – who also suffered from mental illness – carried out a mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School. A CNN news report reveals Lanza’s mental illnesses, which include autism, anxiety disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and suicidal disorder. An article in the New York Times goes into further detail, showing how Lanza’s mental illness was left largely misunderstood and mistreated.
Yes, Lanza took the guns he used from his own house. Could the weapons have been locked up better or even not sold to the family in the first place? Yes; however, if someone like Lanza is set on killing people, they will do so in whatever way they can. Understanding people’s mental illnesses and treating them appropriately needs to be the priority in society, not gun control, because ultimately, people kill people. Guns do not kill people.
There is another problem. Increasing the availability of mental health supports in schools and throughout society can make a significant difference in helping people de-escalate from violent idealizations and hopefully get to a healthier place in life; but, if people do not want help, they will not accept it. No one can force people with mental illnesses to get help if they do not want it…so, then what? To this question, I have no solid answer. All I have is a hope that someday people will learn to love one another; but, I also have a lens into reality that this perfect love will never exist in humanity because we are all imperfect.