Mental Disorders and Guns Don’t Mix

On Friday, December 14, 2012, Adam Lanza, 20, entered Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, and shot and killed 26 people, including 20 children, and then himself. This is the latest in a string of shootings this year. In most cases the gunmen had a mental disorder or a undiagnosed/untreated mental illness. The deadliest cases involved powerful rifles, e.g. AR-15.

Thanks in part to the lifted ban on assault rifles in 2004, there is now a flood of powerful guns out in the wild. You cannot deny that statistically this increases the access of these weapons to all segments of the population. These weapons will be used by more hunters, more criminals, more hobbyists, and more mentally ill people.

If the number of people diagnosed with mental disorders is increasing, and the number of weapons is increasing, then sooner or later these groups are going to overlap.

The website, Fatal Gaps, also sheds light on another problem: mental health records are not being submitted to the national database. Thus, people like James Holmes, the shooter in Aurora, Colorado, can buy an AR-15 even though he has a history of mental illness.

We have already curtailed the 2nd Amendment with stipulations on people’s mental and criminal records (i.e. felons, “spouse beaters”, and the mentally ill cannot buy guns) so what more can be done to prevent these shootings? Assuming criminal records are more accurate than the mental health database, then it seems reasonable that fixing the mental health database will prevent more mentally ill people from buying guns; we won’t go into stolen or illegal sales of guns. I would also submit that we need more qualified mental health professionals, period. This makes sense giving the increasing number of mentally ill.