Over the past few years, the media has played up the idea that having a mental illness indicates that the individual shouldn’t be allowed the same rights as those who do not suffer from a mental illness, specifically owning a firearm.
This week’s school shooting at a middle school in Sparks, Nev. will inevitably spark the ongoing debate that mentally ill individuals shouldn’t have the right to own a weapon.
Take for example, Adam Lanza, the man who killed 20 children and six adults during the Sandy Hook massacre. It is believed that Lanza suffered from some type of mental illness. The same has been said for Aaron Alexis, the man who killed 12 at a Navy yard in Washington D.C. just last month.
These are extreme cases in which society failed these individuals. While we may never understand the circumstances which led to these horrible acts, one thing is clear: these individuals were overlooked. Society failed them.
While many think that putting guns in the hands of mentally ill individuals is wrong, which in many cases may be true, individuals who don’t suffer from mental illnesses are also given the right to own a gun, and in many cases, use them to inflict the same harm. Look at the Downtown Chicago drive-by shootings that left many people wounded (including a toddler) just last month. Why should these individuals be allowed to own guns (or have access to guns), but mentally ill people can’t?
What society needs to address is accepting those with mental illnesses, not ignoring the problem because they think there isn’t an adequate solution. There is always a solution.
There are things you can do to help right here on campus.
Be alert. If a friend or acquaintance begins to act odd or show signs that aren’t normal, ask them if they need to talk. Sometimes they just need a friend who will listen.
If they confide in you about wanting to hurt themselves or others, contact the appropriate authorities. While you may think this is “ratting them out,” you may have just saved several lives. Keeping the trust of a friend is important, but preventing a tragedy trumps all.
I want to reiterate that I am not a doctor. These suggestions are based on my own personal experiences. Some suggestions may not apply to every situation.