Gun Violence and Mental Illness

Inclusive of Donald Trump, there are lots of people associating gun violence with mental illness. In this association or assertion lies exclusion of acts of gun violence that are acts of terrorism. This focus on acts of gun violence which cannot be characterized to be acts of terrorism is of critical importance for all of the following discussion.

An important tool for testing of appropriateness of an assertion is examination of the extent to which extrapolated (applied outside of the specific context in question), it induces a conclusion which only can be characterized to be absurd.

Applied to association of gun violence with mental illness, and with full knowledge of historical evidence that the fight for American independence commenced with gun violence, association of gun violence with mental illness implies independence of the United States is rooted in mental illness. We know of course that regardless of any disagreements with strategies for instigation of fights for freedom that desire for freedom never can be characterized as source of or evidence for mental illness. Regardless of extent to which strategies for its achievement are flawed, freedom remains a rational desire, a right of humanity. Having arrived at an absurdity via extrapolation, we conclude association of gun violence with mental illness is a flawed recommendation, a flawed assertion.

Reduction of rationales for gun violence to mental illness is an attempt at branding of gun violence in a manner which induces American citizens to regard perpetrators of gun violence as weak, non-survivors. This is a dangerous characterization which in of itself can induce increase in resort to gun violence within American society. Regardless and in many instances, perpetrators of gun violence are as much victims of the system operational in society as are those who are mowed by the guns they wield. I am not the first to make this assertion in writing (the assertion that perpetrators also tend to be victims), I do not expect to be the last.

The truth is gun violence can be an attempt at inflicting of pain on society by people who are in pain, people who feel their pain is seen, yet are convinced their pain is neglected, ignored, conveniently forgotten. Stories that have emanated in the news about the young man responsible for the shooting in Florida reveal a young man in pain. As can well be expected, if he was laughed at while he remained enrolled in school by those who saw him as ‘weird’, ‘not fitting in’, or ‘dumb’ such taunting clearly would not have helped, in fact would have exacerbated his pain. Gun violence never must be justified else we risk inducement of chaos in society. But at risk of ruffling feathers, how many of those traumatized by the young man’s actions had themselves traumatized this young man by making fun of or taunting him while he remained enrolled in school? When pushed to the wall people in pain rationalize in very rational terms that “one trauma (taunting in school) is well worth a traumatic (gun violence) response.”

People who eschew emotional trauma of gun violence must themselves eschew infliction of emotional trauma of any form on others.

Attempts at denigration of one trauma relative to the other merely increases pain from trauma. If we do not begin to regard ‘trauma as trauma’, if we make High School students feel emotional trauma they inflict with words, attitudes, taunting, and alienation of people does not weigh as much as trauma that is outcome of gun violence, we may only be witnessing early stages of gun violence in High Schools of the United States.

If we reduce discussions of gun violence to discussions of mental illness, we abstract away from ills within society which can be responsible for gun violence. Such abstraction ensures ills responsible never are addressed, resulting in increase in incidence of gun violence over time. While the exact statistics are becoming debatable, one conclusion is unambiguous, which is, there has been steady and progressive increase in incidence of gun violence in the United States. While reasons for the progressive increase are debatable, lack of discussion of or attention to candidate societal ills is one rationale for increase in rates of gun violence.

The steady and progressive increase in incidence of gun violence suggests societal ills which produce this extreme form of aggression have yet to be addressed, and perhaps are becoming more suffocating or severe within American society.

Reduction of the debate on gun violence to discussions of mental illness is an insult to severity of the problem gun violence has become within American society. It is abdication of intellectual dissection or discussion, discussion which makes possible practical or pragmatic policies for mitigation of the problem.

Whenever we are untouched by it, gun violence always seems so far away from our personal lives. If we do not think about the solution and throw our weight behind viable solutions today, we cannot be sure we will remain untouched by it in the future.

Several weeks ago, I proferred a manifesto which I believe addresses roots of gun violence within American society. Several weeks later, I remain convinced adoption of my manifesto goes a long way towards enabling of mitigation and reduction of gun violence in the United States.

Now is the time to adopt a solution, and throw our weight behind our solution of choice. Let us remember, however, that guns do not kill people, people kill people using guns. If we take away guns but refuse to address societal ills, we just may increase usage of home made bombs, knives (already happening in Europe) etc., end up with a pyrrhic victory. The evidence is very stark and clear — Canadians have more guns per capita than the United States, yet by comparison have relatively infinitesimal incidences of gun violence.

Time is of the essence for throwing of our weight behind practical people focused policies for mitigation of gun violence in United States of America.




Educator and Researcher, Believer in Spirituality, Life is serious business, but we all are pilgrims so I write about important stuff with empathy and ethos

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Oghenovo Obrimah, PhD

Oghenovo Obrimah, PhD

Educator and Researcher, Believer in Spirituality, Life is serious business, but we all are pilgrims so I write about important stuff with empathy and ethos

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