With yet another mass shooting surfacing recently, the typical few days after the incident promote national outcry—but this time, they are not as quickly forgotten. The government tends to do very little aside from sending "thoughts and prayers" to the victims and their families after such events, but after the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida on February 14th, everything seemed to change drastically.
Once again, President Trump offered his condolences and later pointed out that mental illness is a major cause for such instances because those with such disabilities have access to the guns. A common misconception was that Trump repealed the Obama-era ruling of blocking those with mental disabilities to purchase guns.
However, according to Snopes Fact Check, the bill Trump blocked "would have provided a new way to enforce existing restrictions on gun sales by allowing a transfer of information from one agency to another." For some time now, there have been laws to prohibit those who are deemed mentally defective or have been committed to a mental institution from buying guns.
While the rule that Obama proposed did make it more difficult for those with mental disabilities to purchase guns, it was due to more widespread sharing of information among agencies, and does not explicitly strengthen the restrictions for buying guns. But, because Trump blocked it, he did make this information less widespread, and therefore, potentially did make it easier for those with mental disabilities to purchase guns.
But mental disabilities are not explicit to the United States, which then raises the question: if mental health is the issue, than why do other countries have such low gun-violence rates? In 2017, Max Fischer and Josh Keller wrote an article for the New York Times comparing mass shootings in the U.S. to the rest of the world, and the results are staggering. Where the United States has 270 million guns and 90 mass shooters from 1966 to 2012, no other country in the world had more than 46 million guns and 18 mass shooters. The difference is substantial, and it is important to note that this study left out 2017 – the year with the most deaths and injuries from mass shootings in American history, with 112 people killed and a horrific 531 wounded according to TIME magazine.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), "1 in 4 people in the world will be affected by mental or neurological disorders at some point in their lives." This is worldwide, and in underdeveloped countries it is very likely that people are less likely to get treatment. Instead of directly focusing on seeking aid for those with mental disabilities, which in his eyes may have prevented and could prevent such instances from occurring in the future, Trump took measures to ban 'bump stocks'—add-ons to semi-automatic rifles that allow them to behave like automatic rifles—as well as moving to improve background checks for those purchasing weapons.
However, the most drastic of his gun control measures is not a regulation at all: the President hopes to arm certain teachers in hopes of creating a more protective school environment, giving Americans quite the opposite of gun regulation.
Whether Trump's position as a Republican or a candidate endorsed by the National Rifle Association, it is clear that the nation is divided on a solution, splitting in rapidly different directions on the matter. While the issue faces changes and increasing support and opposition every day, one thing is for sure: something is going to change.
Lead Image Credit: Unsplash