OPINION BY NATALIE LARIMER
There’s been a lot of fuss lately over the most recent college shooting at Umpqua Community College in Oregon. I think this is a huge problem, but I think there’s a larger problem here— multiple ones, actually.
For one thing, the articles I’ve read about it all mention that the shooter (Chris Harper-Mercer) is autistic. Yet, in a CNN article, they interviewed his father, who would not comment on whether or not he had emotional or mental instabilities.
Now, I’m not saying he wasn’t autistic, but if he would have been Muslim, his mental state wouldn’t have been mentioned at all. He would be called a terrorist, which he is. No articles mention terrorism.
Another radical opinion I’m going to dip into here is gun control. He should definitely not have had any access to firearms. According to CNN, police found 14 guns linked to the shooter. Now that’s a problem.
I know a veteran with PTSD who is often found in his garage cleaning his gun collection that is nothing short of an arsenal. That cannot be allowed.
I don’t mean to associate mental health problems with violence because the majority of people with mental health issues are non-violent, but if you’re equipping unstable people with guns, it might come back and bite you.
In case you missed Friday’s issue of “The Wall Street Journal,” Tim Murphy wrote an opinion called “Mass Shootings and a Mental-Health Disgrace.” He talks about how he wrote a bill advocating for reform in many aspects of America’s mental health policies. That’s great. I support that wholeheartedly.
However, he mentioned in his article that he led a congressional investigation into the mental health system after the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting. My question for Murphy is this: Why does it take a shooting to explore our failed system?
I looked at www.propublica.org, which is a journalism and public interest site, and it stated that 75 percent of 34 adolescent mass murderers between 1958 and 1999 were not diagnosed with any mental disorders. So why do we readily assume that all shooters are mentally ill?
The fact that Harper-Mercer’s father refused to comment on the mental state of his son implies that he did not see this coming. In the same CNN article I mentioned earlier, it even says that his father repeatedly taught him to never own or use a gun.
The fact is that we have many problems involved here. One of them is that our mental health system in America is obviously not working, considering that, according to Murphy, “a person with a serious mental illness is 10 times more likely to be in a prison cell than a psychiatric hospital bed.”
Another issue at hand is the simple access to guns that many Americans have. Again, Harper-Mercer had 14 guns. That’s 14 too many.
We need to have a discussion about mental health, and it should not require a mass shooting to bring up the subject. We also need to look at our gun control laws. We absolutely should have background checks for people we are giving gun licenses to because if we don’t, then we could be giving guns to people with PTSD, or worse.