Oh boy oh boy! Another mass shooting in America, how delightful! Not to mention the shooter was affiliated with white supremacist, has a past of mental illness, and used an assault rifle! How terribly spicy this all is! One can only hope for the most engaging of Facebook arguments this time around.
But in all seriousness, this recent mass shooting has led to something that I, personally, have not seen on my Facebook feed, and that would be disagreement amongst liberals. The point of contention is what should we be blaming for these mass shootings: our current gun regulations or our current neglection of mental illness? For what ever reason, in my liberal echo chamber, I have not seen anyone say it’s a combination of factors, it’s either one or the other.
Let me first say that it’s ridiculous to believe any independent factor is the sole reason for, not just mass shootings, but anything in life. Everything is related, and an individual’s life and their choices are influenced by a plethora of factors. The issue of mass shootings is a lot more complex than anyone is willing to admit and to think you know the solution is not only arrogant but ignorant as well.
Now, as I said earlier, I have seen liberals say mental illness is the main problem for these shootings. This is a typical stance of conservatives who want to reflect any assailment towards gun regulations. But what do these people mean when they blame mental illness?
I really don’t think these people have a very comprehensive definition of mental illness. According to Google (which doesn’t mean this is the right definition!), mental illness is any condition that alters your mood, behavior, and/or thoughts.
Based on this definition, we can see how easy it would be for people to put all the blame on mental illness and ignore guns. However, it’s become apparent that some people also choose what acts of violence are caused by mental illness. For example, when “terrorists” commit violent acts most people, especially conservatives, would never say mental illness was the problem, rather, they would just point out that “terrorists” are evil (I use “terrorists” because the defining of terrorists is frivolous and rooted in racist ideology).
This example also allows me to illustrate how the liberal who sees mental illness as the issue differs from the conservative; for the liberal would also see the “terrorists” as someone who needs medical attention and would also like to believe that with said medical attention the act of violence could have been avoided. Therefore, not everyone who blames mental illness is trying to lessen the attacks on gun regulations.
But is it true that all lofty acts or evil can be reduced to the wrongdoer having mental problems? Well, this depends on your definition of mental illness and how you see the world. For some, the very fact of carrying out an atrocious act, such as a school shooting, means the wrongdoer must have some mental problems because no one in the right mental state would ever do such an evil thing. I can’t speak for everyone on the issue, but people most likely do this because it gives an explanation for wickedness. This might make more sense if we look at the opposite side, the liberals who put all the blame on gun regulations.
Once again, I can’t speak for everyone, but it would appear that the logic of these people is that some people are simply evil, and that because these people are malicious or evil they shouldn’t ever be able to acquire a gun legally. This very well be true, but my problem with this is that it implies it’s not an issue for people, like the Parkland shooter, to have thoughts or desires for violence, that the only problem is the carrying out of said violence, which in this case is only possible through the Second Amendment.
Or in other words, what makes liberals split on the main cause of mass shootings is their beliefs about human nature and our willingness to do evil. To those who blame mental illness, there is latent faith in the inherent goodness of humans, and that anything that contradicts this is a problem that can be solved. It’s unfortunate that the problem that can be solved is labeled as mental illness, because this stigmatizes the millions of people who suffer from a mental illness.
However, I don’t think these people who believe all acts of violence can be prevented mean to stigmatize people who have a mental illness. Rather, what they mean to say is that with the right kind of help and assistance would-be mass shooters can realize the evil in their intentions or the idea to even commit such an act would never enter their mind. Because, once again, to these people the idea of committing evil being normal for humans is something they can’t accept and thus need an explanation for evil.
While on the other hand, blaming solely guns means that human nature allows us to be evil, and that anyone at any time can consciously choose to commit evil. Another way to put it would be these people don’t see evil as contradictory to human nature, that there isn’t a problem that makes people evil but rather the fact that people can be evil is in itself the problem.
Regardless of what you blame, it is quite evident that there is a problem, and even if we don’t know the exact solution to the problem, the least we can do is TRY to solve it, because it’s clear our inaction isn’t solving anything.