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Mental Illness and Gun Control

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Gun control has been an issue in the United States for years but lately, because of social media, it has become a well-known and more controversial topic. Gun control is laws and policies that control the manufacturing, selling, and use of guns by civilians in the U.S. These laws and policies were created to protect civilians from misuse of firearms, but people have become concerned about the amount of power the government should have over gun control. There are two sides to the argument, one being the people who want more restrictions on firearms, and the other being people who want a gun-free environment. In my opinion, creating a gun-free country would be unreasonable and would disregard the constitution. Changes that I believe should be made to gun control are stricter eligibility requirements for age and mental health, longer waiting periods, and restrictions on online firearm purchases.

One of the changes that I feel should be made to gun control policies and regulations are stricter eligibility requirements for age and mental health. Over the last couple of years, gun violence in schools has become a major issue in the United States. With this issue, society has become more alert on the age and mental health requirements of firearms. When a person has the privilege of owning a firearm, it comes with a responsibility that not all ages are mature enough to handle. For example, there have been many cases where individuals under 21 have harmed others with firearms. On February 14, 2018, at Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida a former student opened fire killing 17 people and injuring 17 people. Nikolas Cruz, the gunman, was 19-years old in Florida, which made it illegal to buy a firearm. Though, in some states such as Texas, where you must be 18 to buy a firearm, it would have been legal for Cruz to buy a gun. Too many cases like this have shown society why there are certain age restrictions on gun control, and how it is for people’s safety. Having an age restriction of 21 and under will ensure all individuals who own a firearm are at an age of maturity to understand the power a firearm can have.

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Mental health issues also play a very controversial role in gun control. Mental illnesses can be a difficult topic because people who have certain mental health issues can be unpredictable. Firearms can make or break someone’s safety, and when you hand a firearm to an unpredictable individual, the use of that firearm can become unpredictable. In no way do I blame gun violence only on mental illness, I merely see it as a possibility that could occur. Gun violence is based on many problems with society and not just mental health, but mental illness is a real issue that has a greater impact on our community than most people realize. Especially today, mental health has become a greater issue and can happen to anyone at any time. Many forms of mental health issues that are very common are depression and anxiety, which can lead to many acts of violence towards others or themselves. Mental illnesses like depression and anxiety are often looked past and not taken as seriously as they should be. Everyone faces anxiety and depression in their life, but some people have it more serious than others. An individual who willingly opens fire on innocent humans is most likely not in the right mental state. Therefore, Mental health has a greater impact on gun violence than many people believe, because it does not always have to be a rare type of mental illness to make someone violent.

Gun control could also be better regulated with longer waiting periods. Creating a longer waiting period for firearms would mean less immediate and impulsive purchases of guns. Gun violence not only can be a threat to people of society, but also the person purchasing the firearm. Immediate purchase of a firearm can make a person act on temporary emotions and impulses which could lead to possibly harming society or themself. Studies have shown that suicide and violence against others are often impulsive. If there were to be waiting-for-period laws on firearm purchases, the period between purchasing the firearm and receiving the firearm could act as a buffer, which could prevent spontaneous acts of violence or attempts of suicide. Another reason waiting periods could be beneficial for firearm purchases is they could give law enforcement agencies more time to complete thorough background checks to ensure an individual is qualified to possess a firearm.

Lastly, a change I would like to see in gun control would be restrictions on online firearm purchases. When purchasing a firearm from a federal firearms license holder, an individual would go through a background check and would have to pick up that gun from the nearest licensed dealer. I see no issue in this way of purchasing a firearm, but when private purchases begin being made it becomes a different issue. In 2000 the Justice Department became aware of about 4,000 websites that offered firearms for sale, but because of today’s increase in technology that number has most likely risen since then. Now, it is a felony to sell a firearm to someone who likely would not pass a background check, because of mental illness or a criminal record. Nevertheless, that would not stop people from illegally selling firearms. If someone were to respond to a classified ad on the internet, it would become easier to go through with that purchase, because you would receive that gun directly from the seller. When selling firearms, which is a huge responsibility, it must be done correctly and legally for the safety of the community, which can not always be assured through all online purchases.

Changes that I would like to be made to gun control policies are stricter eligibility requirements for age and mental health, longer waiting periods, and restrictions on online firearm purchases. Stricter eligibility requirements for age and mental health should be established to ensure everyone who owns a firearm is mature and mentally stable enough to understand the power a firearm has. Longer waiting periods would also create a great difference in gun control policies by preventing immediate and impulsive gun purchases. Lastly, restrictions on online firearm purchases are important because, selling firearms is a huge responsibility, and it is important that the job is done correctly and legally for society’s safety, which will not always be guaranteed through online purchases. Gun control is and will continue to be an occurring issue, because of the dangers America is facing regarding firearms. Unless people are willing to come together and find solutions to create a safer community, none of these issues will be resolved. Firearm use should continue to be a serious issue because once a bullet is fired, it can never be taken back.  

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