A gunman opened fire at the Westgate Entertainment District in Glendale with a long rifle on May 20. At least three people were shot. The shooter reportedly posted a video on social media of him shooting people and bragging about it. What a tragic day for America.
Whether you advocate for the so-called “2nd Amendment” or “gun control,” let’s take a step back and actually think about why the person utilized such weapons to harm others. Is it because of the weapon itself? Or is it their mental state of mind?
Having worked as a caregiver for over a year in Arizona, I have worked with a variety of clients with specific mental health problems. Some don’t even understand their own problems. Some can’t even control their own behavior. Some can’t be reasoned with and some aren’t even in the right state of mind.
I can talk for hours on how shootings are caused by mental health problems. But I want to get to the point and talk about the Glendale shooter himself.
If I’m correct, people who knew the shooter say that he had a troubled past. If he posted on social media bragging about the shooting, why didn’t anyone report him to police before it happened? Why didn’t he get mental help for his troubled past? Why didn’t he seek help and treatment for his mental health problem? How did he get a deadly weapon?
My point is that if he had received intervention including mental health treatment, then he would not have shot people in Glendale.
I acknowledge that there are good people who have deadly weapons, but they don’t have mental health problems and they do the right thing by safeguarding their weapons. They use weapons for hunting, self-defense and more. Even law enforcement agencies have deadly weapons, yet they use them to protect the public.
So, what can we do to address the problem? Let’s start by educating everyone about mental health problems to raise awareness. Make mental health education mandatory in grade school and at workplaces to make sure more people are aware of it. That way, we can improve our mental health awareness and respond more efficiently.
I also recognize that mental health services may not be easily accessible to everyone. Why don’t we make these services more accessible at schools, workplaces and much more? That way, those who need mental help can easily get it when they need it the most. Offer more rehabilitative services to help put people with mental health problems on the right path to recovery.
Yes, there are some loopholes with background checks and gun control. Why don’t we invent a technology that makes it easier for doctors, police agencies and more to send an alert to gun stores and sellers in real-time? It can prevent guns from going into the wrong hands. Establish a mental health registry to help make it easier to find red flags in background checks.
And consider putting safety features on deadly weapons. Create devices to ensure that only those who own weapons are able to access it, not the wrong person. Add safety features such as remote deactivation, so the gun can be deactivated if it gets stolen.
I can’t guarantee that my suggestions will reduce crimes. But I can say that we can find ways to help reduce violence with deadly weapons without having to punish innocent people who own deadly weapons.
By working together to address the problems, we as a nation can be on our way to reducing crimes and violence resulting from deadly weapons.
Peter Gong is a recent graduate of the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication.