America: Should Trump be tackling mental health or his lax gun laws?

Valentine’s Day saw another school shooting in America, as the bulletins lit up phone screens across the world a debate was born within the grief. Should Trump’s America keep the right to bare arms or introduce strict gun laws? 

Teleprompter Trump, as described by The Guardian, (not to be mistaken with Twitter Trump) came dangerously close to blaming the victims of the school shooting in Parkland, Florida.

When describing the suspect as “mentally disturbed” and stressing the importance of reporting warning signs to the authorities. People have taken to social media to argue that maybe instead the countless shootings should be seen as a warning sign that gun laws are too relaxed – is it time that the right to bare arms was lost?

Instead of reading the endless scrolls of tweets flooding the homepage in wake of the diaster Trump chose to address the matter by focusing on the reason behind the trigger – mental health.

“We are committed to working with state and local leaders to help secure our schools and tackle the difficult issue of mental health.”

The sombre ritual after a US gun massacre always includes a comforting speech and focus on why. Is it time that the focus changed, the cycle was broken, and leaders focused on how. 

Photo courtesy of NY Daily News.

Readily available guns in America offer the tools for a relatively easy killing spree – put bluntly, an individual can harm more victims in fewer minutes with a killing machine such as a gun rather than a knife or bat.

Tom (wishes to keep his surname anonymous), 33, struggled with his mental health over a decade ago due to a bad reaction from strong treatment he was prescribed. Controversial acne drug Roaccutane caused Tom to have psychotic breaks and fantasies about behaving violently towards himself and others.

Tom said: “If I had been freely able to get my hands on a semi-automatic weapon I definitely would have had a higher risk of hurting others.

“I attacked my friends but thankfully didn’t have a weapon, but imagine if I had. It’s a scary thought.

“I’m thankful for the UK’s harsher gun laws and would not be the same man today if I had been living in America with access to such weapons. Mental health can fail a person so fast, but it’s the gun laws that are the biggest failure. You can’t take back a bullet when you’re head clearer.”

These logistics are all to often countered with the example that drunk drivers get the blame for DUI’s and not the cars that cause the injury. Though a cars purpose is not to kill, a guns is.

On Valentine’s Day Nikolas Cruz’s AR-15 rifle allowed him to kill 17 people and injure 14 others. Could he have taken so many lives if he wasn’t armed with a rifle? Most likely not.

However, weapons will always be available, whether legally or not. Campaigns such as the Sandy Hook Promise emphasise warning signs and mental health awareness in a big to prevent less future fatalities.

Trump’s emphasis on mental health, though not well received, has ignited a debate: is mental health the real issue or their out-dated and lax gun laws?

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