D.C. Navy Yard Shooting

By Gregory Smith
September 23, 2013

The Washington Naval Yard shooting has re-sparked two topics of discussion in the United States; mental health and gun control.

The topic of mental health goes back centuries, when people were lobotomized or given shock therapy because doctors believed that would rid the patient of whatever problems were plaguing them. While its not quite that severe anymore, the lack of understanding about mental illnesses still exists. Many people seem to think that all mental illnesses are the same or, at least similar.  That’s not the case. Each person is different and each person’s illness is different and affects them differently. One cannot assume that what treatment one person receives for a mental illness will work for another person with a completely different mental illness.

Then there’s the topic of gun control. You have people wanting stricter regulations on guns, restrictions on who can get guns, and some people who just want to remove guns from society completely.  The events of Sandy Hook and now the naval yard shooting have people even more on edge regarding mental health and guns, especially how people with mental illnesses gain access to firearms. As a gun owner, I personally get very defensive when people talk about how there should be stricter gun laws or about how guns should be removed from society. I purchased my guns legally and passed all necessary checks to do so.

I don’t believe we should restrict guns for those who show mental stability and go through the legal processes to purchase firearms. After all, guns don’t kill people, people kill people. Guns are just the medium. However, I also believe that there need to be some alterations to the current gun purchasing method that would ensure the purchaser was mentally stable enough to buy a gun. One method to ensure that a person’s mental state is stable enough to purchase a firearm would be to have a test done by a certified physician and then have the person who wants to purchase the gun bring the paperwork to the gun shop as proof they are mentally stable. No test, no gun. The second way to ensure that a person is mentally stable would be to have their medical histories sent to the branch of government that performs background checks. This way, when the criminal background check is performed, they can perform a mental health background check as well.

While ensuring guns are purchased by responsible and mentally sound individuals is important, I feel that it is most important to educate the American public about mental illnesses. As mentioned before, guns don’t kill people. People kill people. If we can educate the American people about mental illnesses and create awareness, we can help those with mental illnesses to receive the help they need or at least make them aware that they have support. This would hopefully cut down on the homicides related to individuals with mental illnesses.

Instead of allocating funds to try and regulate guns and their sales, we should utilize those resources to fund awareness programs in schools and businesses to create a more accepting and understanding society. The more educated people are, the more of a difference we can all make.

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Gregory Smith

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