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Opinion: Stop jumping the gun: Real solution to gun problem lies in mental health investment

Brett Landry | @bmlandry3 Aug 25, 2019 Updated 21 hrs ago

The back-to-back tragedies of the Dayton, Ohio and El Paso, Texas shootings have once again sparked the old talking points of gun control, a surface level correction that will not serve to correct a deeper-rooted problem in American society. For the sake of an enlightened public, the repeated myths of firearms and gun control need to be dispelled.

The most common myth is that an assault weapons ban would correct the gun violence in the United States. The truth is, the United States banned real assault rifles in 1986 and had a temporary ban on modern sporting rifles between 1994-2004. After the assault weapons ban in 1986, gun homicides actually increased. After the 1994 gun ban sunset in 2004, thereby allowing the public greater firearm access, gun-related homicides steadily dropped to the lowest rates in American history.

Rifles, including the AR15, are only used in a small portion of gun-related deaths. Out of all 2010 firearms-related deaths, Pew Research found that 61% were actually suicides, while 35% were homicides. Out of the homicides, the FBI found that a rifle was only used 3% of the time, while a handgun was used 65% of the time.

If anything is apparent from the staggering commonality of suicides and the prevalence of mass shootings, it is that the United States has a mental health crisis, evident by the nearly 20,000 firearm-related suicides and the plight of mass shooters. Common factors among most mass shooters and suicide victims include childhood trauma, lack of validation, depression, severe anxiety and rejection. These overlooked mental health concerns can lead to potential shooters and suicide victims breezing through current background checks. Shooters commonly take advantage of highly populated gun-free zones such as schools to take innocent lives. If Americans care about reducing gun deaths, the statistics show gun bans are not the solution, but rather a serious investment in the nation's mental health.

It is no coincidence that 94% of mass shootings between 1950 to 2019 happened in a gun-free zone. Those who seek to do harm are at an advantage when their selected victim cannot fight back. The public can only expect for schools, churches and bars to be the most common spot for shootings, as they are usually the places where guns are banned, lending for many easy targets for a criminal to pursue.

Americans on both sides of the political aisle are tired of seeing mass shootings on news reports. We all wish for the day guns are only needed for recreation. However, with guns being used for self defense nearly 2.5 million times a year, that day is far away. Gun bans historically only result in an increase in crime, as laws are only followed by the lawful. The real solution to America's problems lies in mental health, there need not be more infringement of the Second Amendment.

Brett Landry is a 20-year-old mass communication major from Bourg, Louisiana.