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Poor mental health care isn’t causing gun violence

When the topic of gun control comes up, it’s inevitable that someone will mention mental health. They claim that guns aren’t causing gun violence, but rather poor mental health care is.

When the topic of gun control comes up, it’s inevitable that someone will mention mental health. They claim that guns aren’t causing gun violence, but rather poor mental health care is.

Never mind the fact that people with mental illness are convicted in only 1 in 20 violent crimes, that 1 in 4 people with mental illness will be a victim of a violent crime, that people with mental illness are more likely to be victims of violence than perpetrators of it.

Let’s never mind those facts for now. Let’s assume that poor mental health care is to blame for gun violence, as people claim it is. Let’s assume, poor mental health care is what causes people to shoot and kill other people.

How does poor mental health care explain why a shooter targeted Latinx victims at an El Paso Walmart? How does poor mental health care explain why a shooter targeted a Pittsburgh synagogue? How does poor mental health care explain why a shooter targeted a Québec City mosque? How does poor mental health care explain why a shooter targeted members of the LGBTQ+ community in an Orlando nightclub? How does poor mental health care explain why a shooter targeted people in a Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood clinic? How does poor mental health care explain why a shooter targeted black people in a Charleston church?

Depression doesn’t motivate someone to shoot people based on their skin colour. Anxiety doesn’t motivate someone to shoot people based on their religion. Bipolar doesn’t motivate someone to shoot people based on their sexual orientation.

And while there are certainly perpetrators of mass shootings who aren’t motivated by xenophobia, poor mental health care doesn’t explain the actions of those who are.

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By Kim Siever

I live in Lethbridge with my spouse and 4 of our 6 children. I’m a writer, focusing on political news, social issues, and the occasional poem. My politics are radically left. I am a political economy student at the University of Athabasca, working on my second undergrad degree.

I’m also dichotomally Mormon. And I’m a functional vegetarian: I have a blog post about that somewhere around here. My pronouns are he/him, and I’m queer.

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