Mental Illness Isn't Behind Mass Shootings. Guns Are.
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Politics and Activism

You Can't Blame It On Mental Illness

It's the guns. It always has been.

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You Can't Blame It On Mental Illness

"Mental illness and hatred pull the trigger, not the gun."

These are the words Donald Trump offered to console a, yet again, grieving nation following two mass shootings in El Paso, TX and Dayton, OH. Yet again, the problem is deflected away from guns and onto any other scapegoat concept that can be conjured up. Let's take a look at the facts, something that our country's current leader has been consistently writing off.

In April, the Preventive Medicine journal published a study that examines the link between mental health and gun violence, as well as how gun access and ownership factor into the equation. Mental health symptoms examined in the study included anxiety, PTSD, depression, stress, and borderline personality disorder, and, as it turns out, the majority of these symptoms "were unrelated to gun violence."

So, if mental illness isn't one of the big risk factors of gun violence, what is?

Funny you should ask.

The study found that people who have access to a gun are over 18 times more likely to threaten someone than are people without access to a gun. Additionally, it is not necessarily mental illnesses, but more accurately personality traits, that make a person with gun access likely to use it in harmful ways. These personality traits include impulsivity and excessive anger, especially when displayed in the form of a public outburst. People who are "prone to hostility were more than three times more likely to threaten someone with a gun," according to the study, and those with high hostility were over 3 times more likely to have threatened someone with a gun, after "controlling for demographic factors and prior mental health treatment."

The Preventive Medicine study goes on to explain that "Individuals who had gun access were 4.74 times, individuals who reported gun ownership were 5.22 times, and individuals with high impulsivity were 1.91 times more likely to have carried a gun outside of their homes, after controlling for prior gun carrying, mental health treatment, and demographic factors."

The biggest takeaway out of all of this is that the biggest risk factor for gun violence is access to a gun. Pretty logical, if you ask me. Someone without access to a gun can't use that gun (you know, the one they don't have access to) for violent means.

So let's stop playing dumb.

Donald... Sorry bud. It's the guns. But I think you know that.

Mental illness exists everywhere across the globe, and in fact, the rates of mental illness in the U.S. are pretty proportional in comparison. So, if mental illness was what is causing mass shootings, mass shootings would be a problem everywhere else, too. But they aren't. Continuing to blame mental illness and identify it as the culprit behind these horrific shootings and resulting never-ending grief in the United States does nothing but stigmatize mental health, and push us further away from the actual core of the problem.

Mental illness is not the problem. Guns are the problem.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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