3rd October 2017, Las Vegas: A 64-year-old white male shot at an open crowd as a music festival, killing 58 and wounding nearly 500. The worst mass shooting in modern U.S. history.
5th November 2017, Texas: A lone gunmen enters a small community church, aims and kills at least 25 people and an unborn child.
These are only two of the more talked-about examples from the last 50 days. What makes the issue of gun violence in the U.S. even worse is President Donald Trump tweeting that these shootings are caused by those “mentally ill”. His silence of gun control makes these attacks independent and immune to changes in U.S. gun laws.
We break down exactly why this thinking is so dangerous:
#Myth 1: Direct correlation between gun penetration and gun violence
Numbers state that the U.S. has a maximum number of guns available to the civilians in the whole world i.e. at least one firearm for each adult. So, it’s only fair that an instant assumption would be that because there are more guns obviously there’ll be more crimes. Surprisingly though, the country that immediately follows the U.S. in the number of guns accessible is India but even with such large population and second most dense gun penetration, it does not even enter the list of 5 countries with maximum gun violence. Hence, we can conclude that more guns is not the exact reason for more gun violence there has to be something else too adding on to the favorable factors.
Economist Steven Levitt who studies crime, in his theory suggested that it is not just the availability of guns that’s the problem but it is also the people who have the desire to use those guns to kill a large number of other people. It’s actually a very lethal combination of the two factors. Levitt further explained that it is the lack of sense of belongingness that these shooters feel which turns into frustration and eventually culminates into a radical step like mass shooting.
However, there is a thin line between those who are clinically diagnosed with mental sickness and those who suffer from feeling of alienation among shooters. Oblivion to this difference brings in to the picture the next myth.
#Myth 2: All attacks are carried by mentally ill people
The latest shoot in Texas Church was carried by Devin Patrick Kelley, where it was revealed the man had fled from a psychiatric institution almost 5 years ago and was responsible for damaging his stepson’s skull. A lot of Americans, (almost 63%) believe, especially after this incident, that more than gun issues it might be the ‘sickos’ responsible for all the mayhem.
However, health experts tend to disagree with this popular myth. Also, according to the findings published in American Journal of Psychiatry, the stats clearly mention that those who are diagnosed with mental illness, their crime rate are way lesser than those not diagnosed with a mental illness. It also states that people who are diagnosed with mental illness do not tend to be more violent than the ‘normal’ people and their crime rate only ends up in killing 1% of the national average killings. The study of the Journal amongst the FBI Psychology department has made them conclude that mental illness should not be directly related to crimes and violence under any circumstance.
#Myth 3: Only way to stop a bad guy with the gun is to arm a good guy
Unlike other developed countries the U.S. has permissive gun laws, meaning anyone except those who are legally not allowed to carry arms and guns, are permitted to own gun license. Trump on multiple occasions has openly said that if the good guys also start carrying guns they would be able to take down the bad guys more efficiently. Many of Trump supporters also believe in this ideology clearly defying ‘an eye for an eye makes the whole world blind.’
Another data shows that even when the civilians are armed they don’t tend to counter fire during a mass attack. So, clearly, despite what Trump might say in broad daylight, numbers and statistics about armed civilians’ retaliation say otherwise. The Orlando shooting in Pulse night club is one of the worst examples countering this myth. The club had armed guards at the gate and yet they could do nothing in this case.The same was the case during the Texas mass shooting. Atleast 40 people were killed before the good guy with the gun could stop the bad guy.
#Myth 4: It happens only in the U.S. and not in other countries
Mass shooting or gun violence is not limited only to the U.S. but it does constitute 5% of the world’s total gun violence which is way more than other countries’ combined. Australia, U.K., Scotland are countries that have witnessed mass shootings and immediately turned to highly restrictive gun laws in their countries. The US, on the other hand, has failed to make any major restrictive amendments in its gun law mostly submitting to the opposition by NRA (National Rifle Association).
The most recent development of the gun law is lesser health checkups allowing the mentally ill to carry firearms too which is a permissive amendment.
In the year 1996, when a gunman walked into a café and killed 35 people in Port Arthur in Australia, the country’s immediate amendment in gun laws lead to confiscation of 650,000 firearms from the civilians. America, on the contrary, seems to move on way too easy from one gun violence to the other leading to very mild or no restrictive changes in the law.
So, it would be wrong to say that it only happens in the states but it would probably be right to conclude that only the States does not seem to do much about it except for debates and discussions.