Gun control legislation is necessary discussion; so is mental health


Kernel Opinions Sig

Kellsie Kennedy

Democrats in Congress announced early on that gun control would be a top priority for the newly sworn-in representatives– and that’s already begun.

The New York Times reported that under a newly proposed bill from the House on Jan. 8, called the Thompson bill, “anyone who wanted to sell a gun but lacked a license would have to take the weapon to a licensed dealer, who would then conduct a background check on the purchaser.” An increase in gun control, the New York Times also reported, is supported by 90 percent of Americans in a study from Quinnipiac University from June 2017.

The Thompson bill is far from perfect but is, at least, a step in the right direction. This bill is merely closing loopholes that were overlooked in previous legislation.  It makes sense to go back and ensure that it is more difficult to obtain guns.

I believe most people in the U.S. can agree that guns can be dangerous if in the wrong hands, and I understand not wanting legislation to control private aspects of gun ownership, but individuals who are planning to buy and use a gun for recreational purposes only should have nothing to worry about.

However, there are also other issues in play that are overshadowed by legislation such as this. Part of the U.S.’s gun violence issues comes from our comparatively lenient gun control laws, but it’s deeper than that.

The U.S. has only recently opened discussion involving mental health, and that discussion rarely goes beyond awareness for depression and anxiety. Like the Thompson bill, this discussion is necessary but also needs to be taken further.  It is only when mental health is discussed more openly that we can truly see gun violence decrease.

The National Rifle Association is right in some ways in saying that, “the so-called universal background checks will never be universal because criminals do not comply with the law.” This is a valid point, but the conversation does not need to stop here. Some legislation can solve what previously flawed legislation was meant to do. In the areas in which this fails, an increase in mental health awareness and education can play an important role. 

All public education high schoolers are required to complete so many hours of physical education and activity before graduation. Why not include mental health in the curriculum? Teach the U.S.’s teenagers how to identify mental health issues in themselves and their friends. 

Teach them how to have a conservation. Teach them how to be respectful of others and how to care about themselves. Only when the U.S.’s schools incorporate this education alongside stricter legislation will we see a safer country.