Shootings are bigger than blaming the mentally ill

Several mass shootings have occurred lately. Most recently, 27 people were killed and 20 were injured at a church in Texas.

President Donald Trump and gun ownership supporters argue that the shooting epidemic lies in people with mental illness, not the firearms themselves.

Frequent gun violence occurs because society is constantly perpetuating gun culture, not because someone is simply mentally ill, as Trump suggests. To find a way to reduce the frequency of mass shootings, we have to look at societal factors, not a single citizen under specific circumstances.

For example, America is nonchalantly consuming violence in the media every day. Firearms appear everywhere  video games, movies and TV shows. The Motion Picture Association of America allows at least mild gun violence in movies rated PG-13, but nudity almost always means an R rating. The U.S. is lenient with showing violence in films, but nudity is a sure-fire R rating no matter the subject.

Breaking Bad is rated TV-14 though it has guns, a lot of blood, and large quantities of meth, whereas sexy vampire show True Blood is rated TV-MA for the abundance of nudity.

In Europe, on the other hand, the British Board of Film Classification is more lenient with nudity, and considers violence to be too shocking for viewers.

In the ‘30s to ‘50s, movies portrayed smoking cigarettes as glamorous and as a symbol of power before we knew how deadly they were. Now, guns are portrayed the same way.

Firearms appear in a majority of movies and often the characters using them are depicted in a charismatic manner. There’s Clint Eastwood, Rambo and the Terminator to name a few “cool guys” who are admired for their heroism.

These three characters would most likely be able to bypass the background check to purchase their firearms, another factor for gun violence.

Background checks exist to prevent a weapon from falling into dangerous hands, yet they’ve proven time and time again to be futile. All licensed firearm sellers are required to run a  background check for each buyer. The checks can be avoided by buying guns from a gun show or from private sellers.

About 40 percent of gun owners in 2015 purchased their firearms without undergoing a  background check, but requiring background checks on all firearm purchasers may not make a difference in the number of mass shootings occurring in the nation. The Texas church shooter lied on his application for a background check, allowing him to purchase weapons.

Beyond background checks, there’s an argument in favor of the right to bear arms for protection, which can be a fair argument given the frequency of shootings lately. However, the role of law enforcement is to protect their citizens, so the public should be able to put their trust into police officers to protect them.

Unfortunately, there’s a strong mistrust for police officers due to reports of wrongful shootings.

In 2015 it was reported that black people are three times more likely to be killed by police officers than white people, and 30 percent of the black population killed that year by officers were unarmed.

Despite this, mass shootings are a bigger issue than pointing a finger at one group of people. If Trump wants to point his finger at the mentally ill, then he shouldn’t be hacking down the Affordable Care Act.

To lessen the number of mass shootings happening around the nation, the government and the public need stop blaming each other and condemn society as a whole.

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