Is Gun Violence Due To Dangerous People Or Dangerous Guns?

Posted on September 1, 2015

Last year, President Obama suggested that the U.S. follow Australia's example by adopting a strict ban on semi-automatic and automatic weapons. Australia hasn't had a mass shooting since it enacted the legislation in 1996. Meanwhile, by some counts, America has had a mass shooting approximately every two weeks, with 2015 being the most deadly year yet.

The killings of two journalists in Virginia last week have reignited a national conversation on mass shootings and gun control.

No one wants dangerous people with dangerous guns, but different parties point in different directions when it comes to laying the blame for gun violence or proposing appropriate policies moving forward.

Framing the debate in terms of people versus guns isn't just a matter of emphasis. The National Rifle Association, for example, has typically gone for the former approach, which cuts against the idea that ownership of dangerous guns should be restricted for all people. Instead, the group calls for a national database to better track "lunatics" who shouldn't buy guns.

On the other hand, mental health professionals worry about the impact of emphasizing mental illness as a causal factor in mass shootings, which could — to quote an article by David Crary — lead to "setbacks to their efforts to de-stigmatize mental illness."

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Source material from NPR