In 2015, Alison Parker and Adam Ward were fatally wounded in a gun attack by an enraged shooter while on assignment on live television (Daily News, 2015). The incident sparked outrage among a cross-section of viewers and other interested stakeholders with an increased call to tighten or eliminate gun ownership in the United States. According to Waldman (2015), the 2nd Amendment of the United States` constitution upholds the unequivocal right of the citizens to hold and keep arms privately.
Yet unfortunate incidents such as the Parker and Ward shooting have also resulted in calls to immediately waive this right given the increasing rates of gun violence witnessed across the country in recent times. This paper will argue that the right to bear Arms by any citizen must be upheld and that other measures ought to be taken to prevent the prevailing gun violence in the United States.
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According to Ross (2018), at least one in every five Americans suffers from mental illness at any point in time during the calendar year. Aa a result, incidents of gun violence such as shootings at elementary schools are often the first port of call when assigning blame for the occurrence of such acts of extreme violence. However, Ross (2018) argues that this perception is not entirely true as victims of mental illness are less likely to indulge in gun violence when compared to healthy individuals according to statistical research.
The correlation between gun violence and mental illness lies more prevalently in instances of suicide as such patients are more likely to fatally injure themselves than they are to attack the others according to Ross (2018). In this regard, the most common method of suicide by mental health patients is through self-inflicted gunshot injuries. Consequently, victims of mental illness should have restricted access to guns and ammunition mainly to prevent them from harming themselves and not others according to Ross (2018).
However, the fact that mental illness patients are unlikely to harm others does not absent them from active involvement in instance of gun violence. According to Ross (2018), such patients are more likely to be killed each year by the police due to the threat they pose while carrying weapons when compared to individuals of sound mind. In this regard, mental illness does not necessarily portend a threat to others but rather increases the likely hood of gun violence to such patients either by their own hand, or from other quarters such as the police force.
According to Ross (2018), certain type of mental illness such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) predisposes individual sufferers to higher levels of aggression that may result in gun violence. PTSD is more common among people of backgrounds such as soldiers that have actively been involved in violent combat over extended periods of time. Such high-risk individuals are fundamental unsuitable to handle guns and ammunition without supervision according to Ross (2018).
The relation between mental illness and gun violence is such that individuals susceptible of engaging in violent acts should be identified and rehabilitated according to Ross (2018). Though such proactive approaches, at-risk persons will not only receive the help that they require but also overall incidents of gun violence will drastically reduce. This approach will ensure a win-win position for all stakeholders whereby the right to bear Arms by ordinary citizens will have been upheld while at the same time according professional assistance to victims of mental illness according to Ross (2018).
The standalone advocacy for the right to bear Arms does not resolve the prevalent cases of gun violence in the country according to Ross (2018). In this regard, if ordinary citizens are accorded the unrestricted right to gun ownership, then corresponding and proactive efforts must be made to curtail incidents of gun violence (Ross, 2018).
According to the Prevention Institute (2018), there are several measures that can be adopted to end the culture of gun violence in the country. There measures ought to begin with gun safety laws. The existing gun safety legislation should be tightened and reformulated if need be to guarantee the prevention of dangerous weapons landing in the wrong hands (Prevention Institute, 2018).
Secondly, pro-active measure must be taken to prevent vulnerable individuals, such as those suffering from mental illness, from readily having access to fire arms and ammunition (Prevention Institute, 2018). These measures will not only prevent these victims from melting out gun violence on others, but also on themselves given their vulnerability.
Thirdly, the gun industry must be held accountable for the activities that gun holders engage in after they have procured their respective firearms (Prevention Institutes, 2018). This collective responsibility approach will ensure that the industry actively institutes oversight measures that will prevent individual gun owners from engaging in violent acts going forward.
The gun industry’s major stakeholders such as gun manufacturers and ammunition dealers should also be engaged in seeking to formulate appropriate solutions to the underlying challenges such as gun violence. The insights of these stakeholders will go a long way in coming up with solutions to such perennial challenges according to the Prevention Institute (2018).
As part of the gun ownership process, prospective gun owners must be subjected to mandatory training on the use of their weapons and corresponding licensing to promote responsibility and oversight within the industry. Lastly, proper storage measures and guidelines must be created to dictate how firearms and ammunition are kept safely from unwarranted users (Prevention Institute, 2018). By ensuring that these weapons are stored safely while not in use, the likely hood of their corresponding access by dangerous individuals will be greatly reduced according to the Prevention Institute (2018).
This Paper has argued that although incidents of extreme gun violence continues to be witnessed across the United States, the right of individual Arms ownership as envisioned by the second amendment must be upheld. The paper has examined the correlation between mental illness and gun violence with the latter being a major contributor of the former. The violence attributed to mental illness is both external towards others, and mainly internal towards oneself by the aggressor suffering from mental illness.
Going forward, responsible gun ownership and usage ought to be instituted and encouraged to prevent gun violence prevalence across the country. Though the involvement of the gun industry and other stakeholders such as the federal government, it is possible to create a peaceful environment without gun violence while still upholding the right to individual ownership.
Daily News. (2015). TV news reporter, Cameraman are fatally shot during live broadcast in Virginia. Retrieved from https://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/shot-live-tv-news-broadcast-virginia-article-1.2337586
Prevention Institute. (2018). Gun Violence Must Stop. Here’s What We Can Do to Prevent More Deaths. Retrieved from https://www.preventioninstitute.org/focus-areas/preventing-violence-and-reducing-injury/preventing-violence-advocacy
Ross, P. (2018). Mental Health and Gun Violence. Retrieved from https://healthcareinamerica.us/mental-health-and-gun-violence-607dbb564fb6
Waldman, M. (2015). The Second Amendment: A Biography. NJ: Simon and Schuster
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