Mental health services no replacement for gun rights

Brett_Hondow / Pixabay

In the aftermath of a mass shooting, we routinely see a lot of people offer up a lot of gun control ideas. Many people can’t get past the idea that we need to restrict people’s gun rights because of what a small handful of people do.


So I want to celebrate anyone who breaks that mold.

Unfortunately, this ain’t it.

It’s no secret that New York City subways have made headlines in recent months, and it’s not just because of the increasing ride fares. The subways have been the site of several crimes from riders being spit on, punched, to pushed onto the tracks. Last month, a shooter in a gas mask threw smoke grenades onto a Brooklyn subway before he open fired. This month, there were two back-to-back shootings in Buffalo, N.Y. and Laguna Woods, Calif. While some argue the shootings are a reminder for civilians to carry firearms, I believe that guns are not the answer to America’s gun crisis—mental health services are what’s needed.

Now, understand that I don’t think that increased mental health services are a bad thing. Quite the contrary, actually. And I think the author is on the right track when he writes this:

Rather than center the conversation around the act of shootings, we as a society must redirect the conversation to how we can prevent these tragedies before they strike. The answer lies in mental health services and social media offers the perfect insight into the minds of those who pose a risk.


However, thinking of that as an answer that somehow is more useful than gun rights means you think that everyone who carries out any kind of attack is mentally ill. (And I don’t want to get into the whole social media thing. The last thing I want is for them to become more involved in monitoring what anyone says.)

The problem is that not everyone who carries out an act of violence is mentally ill.

First, let’s talk about Buffalo since that’s the issue on the table before us. Was the killer mentally disturbed? Someone would argue that yes, of course. Sane people don’t carry out attacks like this.

Yet Cam made a very good point in a post recently.

I get the argument that the suspect in the Buffalo attack (it’s Bearing Arms’ policy to not name the shooter and give them any more publicity) “must” be suffering from some sort of mental illness, because no sane or rational person would ever do something like this, but I’m not convinced. I think we have to at least consider the possibility that he carried out this attack, not because of a mental condition, but a sickness in his soul.

Based on the killer’s words and actions, that’s precisely what I think is the issue.


Mental health services won’t stop such people from killing. They won’t identify them as suffering from any mental illness. Hate, awful as it is, isn’t insanity.

More broadly, though, gun rights have benefits beyond the mass shootings.

People who carry firearms can stop far more pedestrian attacks from taking place. They can stop armed robberies and attempted homicides of a lone individual. Those may not make headlines like shooting a potential mass shooter might, but it makes a difference to those whose life was saved.

And let’s be real here, those folks aren’t necessarily mentally ill, either.

While mental health services can benefit people in many ways, they can’t negate the role gun rights can play in making our streets safer.

Join the conversation as a VIP Member