We’re told that the United States has a problem with mass shootings, that it’s “uniquely” an American issue. To combat that, some are pushing for gun control while others are pushing for mental health efforts.
When it comes to mass shootings, I don’t think either will be of particular benefit. You might stop a couple of mass shootings with mental health efforts, but a lot of times the killers were getting treatment and it just wasn’t working.
Yet it may well reduce the number of suicides, which account for roughly two-thirds of all “gun fatalities.” As such, it may well have a greater impact than many might believe.
Gun control most definitely won’t help, as we saw earlier this year in California.
In a recent story on this discussion, however, I came across an interesting article seeking to dismiss Republican efforts to combat mass shootings via mental health. It’s from so-called experts who are seeking to dismiss their efforts.
“As a psychiatrist, I say I’m a traitor to my people if I cast aspersions on people who want to fund mental health — please do — but it’s unlikely to have an effect on mass shootings,” said Dr. Amy Barnhorst, associate director for the California Firearm Violence Research Center at the University of California Davis and the vice chair for community mental health at the UC Davis Department of Psychiatry.
“Mass shootings have become in our country not a means to an end; they are an end,” Barnhorst continued. “There’s so many ways to get to that end: misogyny, racism, white supremacy, antisemitism, sometimes rage, sometimes religious extremism. Getting guns out of the hands of people who want to do that [commit a mass shooting], regardless of why, can make a big difference.”
Now, it’s kind of hard not to roll your eyes at the list of crap she spouts off, but I won’t. There have been examples of mass shootings resulting from all of those things. However, there’s absolutely no one cause of such shootings.
I’d argue that “rage” is one of those things mental health efforts might combat, but that’s just one thing.
However, Barnhorst then goes right to gun control.
And yet, I have to question if she or anyone else the reporter spoke with were really experts. Why, because of the next two paragraphs.
Plus, researchers noted, countries around the world that have far less gun violence than the United States — a place where there are more firearms than people and where gun violence has been the leading cause of death for children since 2020 — have plenty of issues with access to mental health, among other factors inciting violence like racism and misogyny.
What they don’t have is the kind of access to guns that people in the U.S. have.
Yet this doesn’t account for the fact that we also have a knife homicide rate higher than most European nations’ total homicide rates.
People the world over have access to knives. They’re an essential part of any cooking effort if nothing else. Totalitarian regimes trust their people with knives.
And yet, Americans kill more people with knives than some of these other nations do with all weapons combined.
If these are actual experts, how are they not accounting for that as well? How are they able to claim that no, the problem really is guns and not something deeply broken in our American society?
The problem is that these researchers only research guns. They don’t look at violence, only violence resulting from a gunshot. As a result, they don’t recognize that violence transcends this particular kind.
In the process, while trying to dismiss Republican efforts to advance mental health efforts, they discredit their life’s work.