Many people believe that the cause of mass shootings stems from the proliferation of guns that exist within our society as a result of lax gun control. Equally troubling is the large number of people who believe that mass shootings are the result of a deficient mental health system ill-equipped to deal with the mentally ill, who are often portrayed as violent individuals. In a Washington Post-ABC News poll on gun violence published on October 26, 2015, “by a more than 2 to 1 margin, more people said mass shootings reflect problems identifying and treating people with mental health problems rather than inadequate gun control laws.” (Follman). However, Mark Follman, who cited the above poll in his article, “No, Mental Illness Is Not the Main Cause of Mass Shootings in America”, noted that the poll presented a “false choice between mental health and gun policy.”
The cause of mass shootings is neither lax gun control nor the taxed mental health system. It is a combination of both as evidenced by the Santa Barbra. In which the shooter killed six people before killing himself in Isla Vista, California. He was able to amass a stockpile of weapons as he prepared to inflict retribution onto those who he perceived had wronged him, specifically because he was sexually frustrated. Further, he was able to buy the guns legally despite a history of mental health concerns according to his family. As this example illustrates, there is no one cause of mass shootings, but is rather a complex intertwining of a small sample of people with untreated mental illness legally obtaining weapons. “The vast majority of mentally ill people are not violent”, (Follman) and any examination of the problem of mass shootings must be cognizant of this fact in the national debate on gun control.
Follman, Mark. No, Mental Illness Is Not the Main Cause of Mass Shootings in America. Mother Jones. Oct 27 2015. Dec 4 2015
Serna, Joseph. Elliot Rodger meticulously planned Isla Vista rampage, report says. Los Angeles Times. Feb 19 2015. Dec 4 2015.