Gun Problem or Health Problem?


Over the past few years it seems like gun violence in schools has exploded. Every time you turn on the news you hear about things like Virginia Tech and Sandy Hook. Gun violence extends even beyond schools. It seems like there has been in increase in mall shootings, movie theater shootings, and gun violence in general, but what has prompted this sudden increase in public shootings? What has changed?

The truth is according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, “Firearm-related homicides declined 39%, from 18,253 in 1993 to 11,101 in 2011.” If the number of gun related homicides are going down then why does it feel like we’re hearing about more of them? The answer is the media.

The public is constantly bombarded with 24/7 information. News stories are no longer about the quality research of a topic. It seems they are more interested with the unresearched, half truths that give them large quantities of stories. When something happens you almost immediately see it on the news whether they have the full story or not. The public gets little versions of the story as it’s happening until the full story breaks, making the truth all the more confusing. Because the news is a 24/7 broadcast the media has the time to cover more events. They need interesting and controversial things to keep the viewers entertained. The media takes the negative perspective on the topic leading to fear when they talk solely about the shooter and crime committed, rather than focus on the apprehenders and people that stopped the shooter.

One thing the media can show the public is the amount of mental instability in the majority of mass shooters. Look at the amount of shooters that kill themselves in the process:

  • Colombine
  • Aurora movie theater shooting
  • Sandy Hook
  • This week’s Washington school

They all have one thing in common: Mental illness. If the government spent more time funding the mental health crisis in this country rather than trying to put a bandaid on it with gun control the people might see an even bigger improvement with mass murderers. According to the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill, “States have cut more than $1.6 billion in general funds from their state mental health agency budgets for mental health services since 2009.” The longer then mentally ill aren’t taken care of the more tragedy we are likely to see.

This week alone the media has reported on two shootings: one at a Washington high school and another at the Canadian capitol. Both are tragic stories filled with immense loss. I have heard more and more facts about these stories every day since the story first broke. The media brings fifteen minutes of fame to everyone involved with the shooting. It makes the shooters and the victims celebrities. This could potentially be a big problem for mentally ill people who don’t feel noticed in life. The people of this country need to start noticing the big picture. More people aren’t killing with more guns, more sick people are crying out for help.

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