Mental health at heart of gun debate

Take a moment and think back to the last time you saw some sort of violence portrayed in the media.

Did it seem like something that might cause someone to inflict similar harm?

Following the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School last month, questions, such as this, have been a major topic of debate for legislators.

Editorial Board

Andrew Krietz
Katie Harrington
Greg Olsen
Derek Blalock
Omari Sankofa II
Holly Baranowski

On Monday, Vice President Joe Biden continued conversations with Congress on the ambitious anti-gun legislation regarding assault weapons and the number of bullets permitted in a magazine.

These conversations came after talks the vice president had Friday with video game executives, who have been criticized for their potential link to the shootings in Newtown, Conn.

Although the possible reasons that led Adam Lanza to take the lives of 26 individuals, including 20 children, have spurred nation-wide debates on issues of gun control and violence in the media, they still seem to neglect the larger issue at hand: mental health.

All too often, the same image is painted of the type of people capable of committing these crimes, and each seems to follow a similar pattern. Young, white, academically gifted males, but tragically isolated — who always seem to have a strange fascination for violent video games and music — become associated with these types of events, leaving more blame directed at the media instead of the mental health disorders from which they suffered.

As more information continues to surface about Lanza’s apparent obsession with violent games, politicians should spend more time focused on developing better ways to treat those who can’t separate media depictions from reality.

Whether through a video game, television show, song or movie, violence has become an all-too-familiar part of our daily lives, but something that can’t solely be linked to these disasters.

Although news of Lanza spending hours each day locked in his basement playing games, such as “Call of Duty,” makes violence in the media seem like an obvious cause, it doesn’t address how universal this sort of behavior has become.

The problem with blaming one factor for a deeper issue is that it fails to answer the many questions left unknown.

Although tragedies, such as Sandy Hook, become linked to the complex issues they stir up, the inability of our politicians to compromise, and find more thorough ways to treat mental health, will become just another part of the problem.

The decision Lanza made on Dec. 14 never will be something that is fully understood, but the way our nation responds to it can be.

By taking a more active approach to the issue of mental health, we can have a better understanding of these disorders and reduce the likelihood of violence in the future.

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