Opinion: Lax gun laws lead to shootings

By Emma Carlsen
Rocio 2

Illustration by Rocio Macias

Gun violence is a result of inadequate gun laws, not the mentally ill.

According to the Small Arms Survey, the principal international source of information on small arms and armed violence issues, the United States leads the world in both gun ownership and gun violence.

Countries such as Switzerland and Yemen have high gun ownership rates. There are 47.5 guns per 100 people and 54.8 guns per 100 people, respectively.

But America is still in the lead in the rate of mass shootings.

The same survey indicates that America had 270 million guns, or 88.8 guns per 100 people, along with 90 mass shooters from 1966 to 2012.

No country other than the U.S. has had more than 46 million guns, with 18 mass shooters from 1966 to 2012.

The Gun Violence Archive is a nonprofit corporation that provides gun violence information. According to their data, America has already had 34 mass shootings three months into the new year.

This brings up one important question: why does America stand alone in their exceedingly high amount of mass shootings?

After each mass shooting, the issue of mental health is brought up in American politics. While mental health is a factor in a portion of shootings, it is not the root cause for the abnormal rate of gun violence in America.

According to the Canadian Mental Health Association, people suffering with mental illness are more likely to be victims of violence rather than the perpetrators they are cast as.

“Mass Shootings and Mental Illness,” research conducted by Drs. James L. Knoll and George D. Annas, indicates that mental illness and gun violence do not correlate. 

“The overall contribution of people with serious mental illness to violent crimes is only about 3 percent … an even smaller percentage of them are found to involve firearms,” the study said.

Two key findings from the study provide important information regarding mass shooters.

“There is no accurate … profile of students who engaged in targeted school violence,” the research stated, meaning it is not useful for anyone to stereotype mass shooters in any categorical way.

While mental illness may not be a largely contributing factor to mass shootings, access to weaponry is.

“Most attackers had access to and had used weapons prior to the attack,” the doctors said. This finding demonstrates it isn’t possible to accurately profile these shooters.

If mental illness isn’t to blame, why do conservatives continue to frame it as the main cause of gun violence?

Pro gun rights activists blame mental illness because it is easier to scapegoat a group of people instead of addressing the issue.       

The easy access that Americans have to firearms combined with a lack of meaningful regulation is the true cause for these mass shootings. 

The school shooting in Parkland and the activism the victims have demonstrated has created a tipping point in American politics.

Grief is turning into action across the nation.

High school students across America now demand change from lawmakers. 

But will their call for action be enough to change minds within the Republican Party?