mental health

Haviland Smith: Mental health proposals divert attention from real problem: guns

Haviland Smith: Mental health proposals divert attention from real problem: guns
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This commentary is from Haviland Smith, a Vermont resident, lifelong hunter and gun owner, life member of the NRA for over 50 years, and former member of the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Board.

In 2018, the United States was ranked second in the world for total gun deaths.

The United States is ranked second in the world in terms of national levels of mental health problems.

Are we at a point where an attack on mental health issues could acceptably slow our violent gun death issues?

Under the guidance and direction of the NRA, America’s gun lobbyists have made a clear decision that they will fixate on mental health as the only national element to attack in any attempt to solve our problem of violent gun deaths. . If they succeed in selling this concept, the pressures that exist on gun control themselves will be marginalized.

If you’re really interested in professional assessments of any relationship between the two, just Google “mental health and gun violence.” You will see that there is little professional data linking the two.

Most Americans just want the carnage to stop.

If you look openly at the roots of our violent gun deaths, some reasonable conclusions can be drawn. There is no doubt that mental health issues play a role in our violent gun deaths.

However, mental health issues exist all over the world. If this is the primary causative factor for violent gun deaths, why aren’t other countries at the top of the list plagued by concurrent violent gun deaths? It’s quite simple: they have gun control laws.

Some proposed changes to gun laws are likely potentially helpful – age limits for possession, military-style automatic gun control, background checks, safe storage of guns, and red flag laws, to to name a few. However, if the goal is to severely limit violent gun deaths, other proposals such as open carry without a license and concealed carry laws are not helpful.

It’s a painful but obvious fact that if you really want to reduce violent gun deaths, you simply have to consider the instrument of death – the gun itself and the accessories that increase its lethality.

What, unfortunately, sets the United States apart from most of the rest of the world is the fact that we have more guns per capita than any other country; we allow private ownership of small automatic military weapons; and, to top it off, with multi-shot legal magazines. And to what end?

For any true sportsman, these are not hunting weapons. What real hunter needs a gun that will fire multiple shots in seconds to kill a deer? And that will probably render some, if not most, of the venison inedible?

Under the leadership of the NRA, the gun lobby is doing anything and everything to prevent any movement in the direction of limiting the types and number of guns and additions to those guns, such as giant magazines and silencers that make them more effective killers.

What is the motivation here? Is it the fear of a hostile neighbor? Fear of political violence, fear of the other political party?

A true cynic recently opined that the reason the gun lobby fights so fiercely against any form of real gun control, especially military-style automatic weapons, is that they want to have those guns between “reliable hands” for the coming revolution!

Any country would most certainly benefit from increased involvement in mental health issues. The Americans are suitably receptive to this kind of program, and it would improve us a great deal, but certainly not in the area of ​​violent gun deaths.

Focusing on mental health as the sole cause and potential solution to our problems with violent gun deaths leads to serious problems. This has a very good chance of deflecting any hopes this country might have for better control of these types of deadly firearms that are the root cause of our growing problem of violent gun deaths.

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