Alyssa Ahlgren: Mental Health, Evil, and Mass Shootings

This is about our country’s problem of soullessness and mental health. 

Mass Shootings

In a time where the country should be focused on mourning, in gross political fashion, the aftermath of the shootings in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio has brought about another discussion (or screaming match) on gun control. I had previously written an article debunking the top three arguments for gun control, so I will refrain from repeating the lack of evidentiary basis of the effectiveness of gun control legislation. I will, however, repeat the fact that the United States ranks about 11th in mass shooting rates, not number one. 

I’m not here to talk about gun control legislation or that I believe the answer is to make it easier for law abiding citizens to defend themselves, not harder. This is about the real issue that is being fundamentally and strategically ignored in the name of an ideological agenda. This is about our country’s problem of soullessness and mental health. 

Even though mass shootings are a rarity when compared to total gun homicides, we treat them as the driving cause of death in America. Shootings are also covered differently in the media depending on the details. For instance, gun-related deaths due to gang violence is a much bigger problem in this country; just over the weekend in the heavily gun-regulated city of Chicago, we saw seven killed and 48 wounded. Unfortunately, that is the norm, but pandering to a specific narrative is more important than consistent reporting in today’s mainstream media. This isn’t to dismiss the urgency to act on these atrocities, this is pointing out that our initial emotional and partisan reactions to form solutions are misplaced. 

The first thing we do when we hear a maniac went on a shooting spree is find out who he voted for or supports politically, who he liked on social media, and what his race is. If the shooter was a vile white supremacist like the one in El Paso, you blame Trump and conservatives. If the shooter was an Elizabeth Warren supporting socialist, you say nothing about it and blame Trump and conservatives. The only moral solution as seen on the left and in the media is gun control. If you don’t support this agenda it is just as bad as you pulling the trigger yourself. 

There is now a push to pass legislation on video games, as they’re falsely seen as a gateway to violent behavior. Every possible scapegoat is being used while the real problem is being ignored. Guns didn’t commit these tragedies, video games didn’t pull the triggers, and conservatives advocating for the Second Amendment didn’t incite these attacks. The blame lies with the person who, through sheer hatred, made the decision to end innocent lives to fulfill a mental deficiency in their own mind. No amount of legislation is going to deter a mentally corrupt individual from carrying out the sick acts they crave to carry out.

We live in an era where more people are on medication than any other time in modern human history. Rates of depression and suicide are at an all-time high. The dismantling of the family unit is destroying our youth. There is a lack of purpose and higher calling as we become cold to the thought of the existence of God or anything greater than ourselves. Our minds are denigrated to a place of immorality without the guidance of a virtuous purpose above our own subjective feelings. 

This lack of purpose allows for a dangerous dogma to fill the void. Mental health problems and disgusting ideologies like white supremacy take the place of the unifying religious and American values that fuels the human spirit. 

According to investigators in a report released by the Secret Service last month, 93% of the 27 public mass attacks studied in 2018 were found to have involved a suspect with a disturbing and troubling history, and 67% of the attackers displayed symptoms of mental health issues. The FBI also came out with a study over a 5-year time span that found 70% of shooters have had prior concerning behaviors pre-attack. 

Mass murderers are twenty times more likely to have a mental illness than the general population and it has been estimated by multiple studies that up to half of the population with mental illnesses are going untreated. National Alliance of Mental Health reports that there are 11.2 million adults in the United States that experience serious mental illnesses in a given year. These numbers have been increasing as our culture becomes more obsessed with individual happiness than virtuous purpose. The rate of the untreated also continues to climb since the deinstitutionalization of mental health facilities in the 50s and 60s.  

Of course, as the statistics show, not every case can be solely attributed to mental health issues. Ideologies like white supremacy plague the minds of the few but impact the many. Every single decent human being, regardless of political stance, condemns and calls out white supremacy for what it is – a grotesque and cancerous mindset that must be eradicated from our country. Blaming guns, Republicans, or video games takes blame away from the true perpetrator, evil. As our society strays from moral purpose, evil thrives. And as our society strays from focusing on the real issue at hand, mass shootings endure. 

Instead of more legislation, we need to better enforce the laws already on the books. We need to build up our mental health system that was destroyed in the 50s and 60s. We need to be proactive in treating the sick among us. We need to make sure law-abiding citizens have the ease to exercise their Second Amendment right when the institutions designated to enforce the laws fail us. And we need to revitalize the higher purpose and values that built this country in the first place. Guns have been a widespread presence for 243 years; staring at an inanimate object instead of the problem won’t cure this cancer of the soul.

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