Public Policy on Gun Violence
Gun violence is a growing crisis in the United States, and it threatens our communities’ safety. It is estimated that each year over thirty-eight thousand individuals lose their lives due to gun violence, while another 85 000 people are left with minor and serious injuries, which affect their productivity because many of them are compelled to rely on their families for care (American Public Health Association, n. d). Such numbers are worrying because every life is precious and should be protected from unnecessary evils. Incidentally, guns used to commit such heinous acts come from different sources. Some come from licensed gun dealers in the country, while others are bought from the so-called bad apple gun dealers who sell military weapons illegally to unknown individuals. Importantly, unlike licensed dealers whose role is to avail guns for security reasons, the bad apple group, the bad apple group only interested in making profits. Notably, gun violence occurs in various ways. For example, some use those for criminal activities such as stealing and robbery with violence. Others use them to commit suicide or kill innocent people for a reason best known to them. Therefore, to make our communities safer, there is a need for health professionals to report people with mental illness to the Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearm Agency so that guns are collected from them, and all gun dealers should conduct thorough background checks before issuing guns.
Gun violence has been on the rise in the recent past. Now than ever, mass shootings have increased not only in public places but also in learning institutions. Some notable cases include the Bernando shooting in California, where 14 people lost their lives while 21 were injured. An incident that left the community members near the crime scene emotionally traumatized. Other famous gun violence occurred in Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut, which Adam Lanza orchestrated. Important to note, this incidence claimed the lives of over 26 people, some below the age of seven and a few adult staff members (Metzl & MacLeish, 2015). Additionally, some statistic reveals that mass shooting cases are on the rise. Incidentally, the outlined few examples reveal that gun ownership must be controlled (Bogus, 2017). This is because it will help us combat such ills that cause death, injuries, and emotional harm to victims and the general public.
The causes of Gun violence in the United States are attributed to mental illness. For instance, the mastermind behind the Sandy Hook elementary that led to over 26 individuals’ death was schizophrenic. Additionally, it was revealed that he had some emotional distress, which often made him write stories of an older woman shooting carelessly. Additionally, the Colorado movie theatre shooter James Holmes is known to have visited a psychiatrist specialized in schizophrenia. Moreover, historical information since 1970 about assailants reveals that 60 percent of the perpetrators have links with delusions, depressions, and acute paranoia, among other mental problems (Metzl & MacLeish, 2015). Such information reveals that guns alone are not dangerous and do not cause havoc. However, placing hands in the people who are mentally ill is a disaster in waiting. For this reason, our country, to safeguard our communities, it is ethical and imperative to thoroughly assess individuals who have intentions to own guns and those who already have them.
The federal government and state authorities should make it mandatory that healthy mental professionals report mental cases to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms Agency to take away such weapons to protect the public from possible harm. This is because the information available reveals a relationship between mental illness and mass shootings (Anestis, 2015). Additionally, mental illness patients, especially those with depression, among other complications, are likely to commit homicide than can harm themselves and the families or other general public next to him or her. For example, if the psychiatric professional who got visited by James Holmes had reported the incident to the Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms Bureau, they would have taken away the gun. It possible that unnecessary harm could have been avoided. Therefore, mental health professionals should report firearms agencies cases to be revoked till the victims pass a mental health checkup.
Secondly, it is important to make it mandatory for licensed gun dealers to demand a mental health clearance certificate from a recognized healthcare provider before issuing weapons to the United States of America. The outlined measure will ensure firearms, and any military weapon does not get into the hands of people who are at risk of misusing them due to their underlying health issues. Importantly, this measure’s rationale is based on data that reveal that states with tight firearm regulation experience fewer mass shootings and a declined homicide and suicide rates (Anestis, 2015). This measure should also be implemented with other regulations that impose tough punishment and fines on illegal firearms dealers who sell guns on the black market. By doing so, there will be a limited number of mentally ill patients with guns. For this reason, there will reduce mass shootings.
In brief, gun violence is a serious concern in the United States because we have witnessed an increase in mass shootings that cause death and injuries to the American general public each year. Importantly, the guns behind these shootings are obtained from licensed gun dealers and the bad apple gun dealers who sell illegal firearms to perpetrate harm in our communities. Incidentally, substantial research studies reveal that there is a relationship between mental health and gun violence. For this reason, the policymakers need to make it mandatory for mental healthcare workers to share reports of their patients to the Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms Agency to revoke their gun ownership to protect the public. Additionally, the federal government and state authorities should make rules to fight bad apple gun dealers. Moreover, gun dealers must be required to ask for a mental health clearance certificate before issuing the guns to any American citizen.
American Public Health Association. (n. d).Gun Violence. American Public Health Association, retrieved 19 November 2020, from https://www.apha.org/topics-and issues/gun-violence#:~:text=Gun%20violence%20is%20a%20leading,this%20growing%20crisis%20is%20necessary.
Anestis, M. D., Khazem, L. R., Law, K. C., Houtsma, C., LeTard, R., Moberg, F., & Martin, R. (2015). The association between state laws regulating handgun ownership and statewide suicide rates. American journal of public health, 105(10), 2059-2067.
Bogus, C. T. (2017). The Hard, Simple Truth About Gun Control. Guns in Law, Amherst College Series, University of Massachusetts Press (Forthcoming).
Metzl, J. M., & MacLeish, K. T. (2015). Mental illness, mass shootings, and the politics of American firearms. American journal of public health, 105(2), 240-249.
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