Enough, already. I just finished looking over the MacArthur Community Violence Risk Assessment Study, done in 1998. The study was undertaken to look at how the rate of violence by former mental patients compared with the rate of violence by other members of the community? Researchers looked at 500 former mental patients and “a stratified random sample” of blacks and whites between the ages of 18 and 40. The “non-mentally-ill” participants all lived in the same neighborhoods as the former mental patients.
In a nutshell, the study found that “violence committed by people discharged from a hospital is very similar to violence committed by other people living in their communities in terms of type (i.e., hitting), target (.e., family members) and location (i.e., at home).”
Jeffrey Swanson, a professor of psychiatry at Duke University who was not connected to the MacArthur study, says it much more emphatically: “I say as loudly and as strongly and as frequently as I can, that mental illness is not a very big part of the problem of gun violence in the United States.”
In an article entitled ‘Untangling Gun Violence from Mental Illness,’ The Atlantic reported on June 7, 2016, that “[t]he overwhelming majority of people with mental illnesses are not violent, just like the overwhelming majority of all people are not violent. Only 4 percent of the violence—not just gun violence, but any kind—in the United States is attributable to schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, or depression (the three most-cited mental illnesses in conjunction with violence). In other words, 96 percent of the violence in America has nothing to do with mental illness.”
It seems this message has been heard on Capitol Hill. Democrats and Republicans recently submitted gun measures to the Senate for approval. All of them were proposed amendments to laws funding the Commerce and Justice departments for next year. All of them were shot down. Notably, none of them focused on keeping guns out the hands of the mentally ill. Instead, keeping guns out of the hands of terrorists seemed to be a more fashionable approach.
The majority of Americans seem to want stricter gun control. Depending on the poll, the split is either 61% in favor of stricter gun laws with 38% opposed, or 52% in favor and 43% opposed. Either way, it would seem that the goal of both parties should be to put the American public first.
Hillary Clinton responded to the Senate vote on the four measures with a one word tweet: “Enough.”
I join her in echoing the one word that sums up all the fears and frustrations of the majority of Americans when it comes to senseless gun violence.
I stand for the unsuspecting victims–children and adults– who were mowed down by near-military grade weapons clearly intended for killing people. Some of them may have been able to escape had their killers not had large cartridge magazines holding in excess of 30 rounds each.
I join with the lengthening parade of mothers and fathers who have had to bury their children because some death-purposed person was armed with a semiautomatic weapon that allowed him to reload quickly and maximize the casualties.
The mass killings are getting bigger, and the nation’s commitment to addressing gun violence is getting smaller. Omar Mateen bought his guns legally, had no criminal record and no record of mental disease.
When we can’t control the people, and we won’t control the guns, massacres like the Pulse nightclub shooting will be repeated, to our continued national embarrassment and shame