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Opinion: Gun Problems or Something Else?

USA Today reported that since the school shooting in Parkland, Florida, there have already been 6,000 threats of gun violence towards schools.

Throughout middle and high school in my hometown in New York, there were three threats against the school while I was there. Fortunately, the threats were all a hoax.

By the second threat, a pinned note to the bathroom door with a threatening message became a sad joke. We became as numb to the threats as the U.S. has become to mass shootings.

In America, gun violence is an unfortunate reality we face, whether we see it on the news or after walking to school.  Other countries don’t have this issue.

Australia hasn’t experienced a mass shooting in 16 years. There hasn’t been a mass shooting in Switzerland since 2001. Even though the United States makes up five percent of the world’s population, it makes up 31 percent of global mass shootings.

So does America have a gun problem?

Gun control is an issue in the United States, but lack of gun laws isn’t the only reason for these startling statistics. Gun enthusiasts and members of the National Rifle Association (NRA) typically say, “guns don’t kill people, people kill people.”

This is true to an extent. They prefer to focus on the people committing mass shootings and not the guns.

We have to look at the individuals who pull the trigger and ask what led them to that point. But, we also need to look at the weapon and why this person was able to access a gun so easily.

If we focus on a person’s mental and psychological health and ignore the fact that they easily bought a gun off EBay, or vice versa, we are likely to run into the same problems.

If someone tried to heal a broken leg by just sleeping, you may think they were crazy. They would need other tools like gauze and medicine to help with their recovery. We can’t just look at the weapon and we can’t just focus on the shooter’s mental health, environmental circumstances and psychological state.

It takes an unfortunate concoction of different factors to create this many mass shootings within the past few decades. These factors include lack of mental health care, little stability in the household, gun control and many others.  If we are going to tackle gun violence, we need to address everything surrounding it.

A study done by New York University (NYU) Langone Medical Center researchers showed over 8.3 million American adults suffer from serious psychological distress. This distress can include feelings of sadness, worthlessness and restlessness that are serious enough to impair someone physically.

The study also reported that health care is getting worse, not better. Between 2006 and 2014, access to mental health services has deteriorated.

Even if the a shooter doesn’t have a mental illness, we still have to examine that person’s environment and psychological status to see why they felt the need to kill.

At the same time, gun control still plays a big part. If you want a gun, especially below the Mason-Dixon Line, you can walk into a store and purchase an automatic weapon with little background checks; that’s a troubling.

I’m not saying we have to outlaw guns altogether, but I would think if you are for the Second Amendment, you would want there to be regulations that prevent guns from getting into the hands of someone who is psychologically or mentally impaired.

There’s more than one reason why we are hearing or witnessing a mass shootings every other week. Each of these problems needs to be attacked with the same energy. Stores like Kroger, Wal-Mart and Dicks raised the age limit to 21 for people to buy guns in their store.

The stores are taking steps in the right direction and it is a promising start to attacking the issue of mass shootings in America and making schools safer. But, we need to attack the other causes to really make progress.

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