Readers react: Can mental health reform prevent gun violence?

Thursday , March 22, 2018 - 5:15 AM

How can lawmakers best prevent mass shootings like the one in Parkland, Florida, that took the lives of 17 high-schoolers?

Stricter gun laws? Mental health reform? Something else?

The debate has taken the country by storm yet again, and the Standard-Examiner’s Facebook followers are no exception.

On Sunday — a week after President Donald Trump released his school safety plan — we posted a video on the topic with the following caption: “Mental illness is a big part of the national conversation about gun violence after the school shooting in Florida, but some mental health experts see an unfair correlation between the two.”

Since 1999, there have been 79 mass shootings. Of those shooters, 38 showed prior symptoms of a mental illness and 29 purchased or acquired firearms legally.

Those numbers came from the Mother Jones mass shooting database, which included an editor’s note for context: “Our research has focused on indiscriminate rampages in public places resulting in four or more victims killed by the attacker. We exclude shootings stemming from more conventional crimes such as armed robbery or gang violence.”

Story continues below video.

The Standard-Examiner’s video, now with more than 2,000 views, sparked some interesting conversation among commenters. Here’s what they had to say:

All comments are verbatim.

Lisa Lopez: I love when I hear the words “Mental health reform” I don’t think I’ll ever see a day when the words “Mental Health reform” are actions and not just words. As a person living with a mental illness (Bipolar) I can tell you I know a lot of people who are not taking medications they are supposed to take due to high cost of these medications. I know a lot of people who self medicate because they can’t afford to see a Dr or a therapist. People want to say Mental Health Reform but nothing is happening about it. Mental health reform was NEEDED years ago. Now things are in chaos because Presidents/Congress/ State Representatives thought the words sounds nice but the actions to those words just cost to much money then the budget allows. This is not a gun issue. It’s a mental health issue. A lot of people have suffered due to lack of support/stigma.

Trevor Price: Mental illness is an easy scapegoat because they don't have a powerful organized lobby to refute the incrimination and the accusers don't have to look at themselves

Vikki Deakin: Mental illness is a wide spectrum. And there are plenty of people who have a mental illness who are taking medicine, going to therapy—their illness is under control. There should not be a one-size-fits-all approach to keeping guns out of the hands of people who have a mental illness or disorder. Likewise, not every person with a mental illness is a danger to him/herself or others. At the same time, people who *are* a danger to themselves or others need to be treated and cared for—and kept from harming anyone including themselves.

Jaysin R Clifton: so the same government that wages a jihad on cannabis and allows cops to shoot people's dogs for little or no reason gets to decide what mental illness is?

Lowell Blaylock Jr.: Since we are on mental illness how about looking at not giving custody of children to individuals with mental illness

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