Honor student, no criminal record, parents well educated, shy, reserved, and bordering on the (genius) twenty-year-old Adam Lanza’s1 ultimate act before his death has shaken Americans…Their core beliefs in regards to faith, ideology and inherent rights references to the 2nd Amendment of the Constitution; is yet again re-examined.
“Over 50,000 homicides and suicides occur each year in the United States, making them among the leading causes of death, particularly for young people. In 2001, homicide was the second leading cause of death and suicide the third for persons 15–24 years of age. Approximately 60 percent of all homicides and suicides in the United States are committed with a firearm.” 4
'President Obama signed a law permitting people to carry guns into National Parks. He did not protest when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that states and local governments could not overrule citizens’ federal right to bear arms or when legislators in Louisiana and Arizona passed laws allowing people to carry weapons into churches and bars, respectively.'4
‘There seems little doubt that, based principally on public fears after homicides, there is a sense of needing some sort of action. There are many justifications for reviewing the principles and practice in the provision of most mental health care and treatment in the community, but presumed homicidal tendencies of a people with a mental disorder need not be among them… There is, nevertheless, embedded in the homicide figures a small but important problem for which mental health and social services must find a better solution. Some groups of people with mental disorder are at statistically higher risk as a group of being violent to others than the general public, but it is vital to understand the size and nature of the risks involved ’ 5
Laws may also reflect society's wish to reduce the likelihood of certain types of injurious behavior, even while realizing that this wish may not be fulfilled. There are, of course, always people with evil intentions who will ignore the law--but that is no reason to omit or expunge the law. Research might show, for example, that laws against private citizens possessing shoulder-fired missiles do not, by themselves, prevent certain people from illegally obtaining and firing these weapons. Nevertheless, we would still have a strong ethical justification for keeping such laws on the books. Similarly, even if we could not demonstrate that laws banning production and private ownership of rapid-fire, semi-automatic weapons actually reduced mass shootings, a civilized society would still have sound ethical reasons for retaining these laws.
That is, these laws legitimately reflect society's value judgment that no good will come from the possession of such destructive weapons by private citizens--and that much harm may ensue. We can agree, as a society, that an individual “right to bear arms” should be respected, under recent interpretations of the second amendment. Yet we may still insist that stockpiling semi-automatic weapons against a hypothetical totalitarian state is no answer to the here-and-now reality of the carnage on our streets. Placing sensible restrictions on firearms—such as eliminating the sale of semi-automatic weapons—has been advocated by groups as politically diverse as the American Psychiatric Association and the International Association of Chiefs of Police. 6
Economist Richard Florida’s views offer a different analogy according to journalist Ezra Klein,
'…Higher populations, more stress, more immigrants, and more mental illness were not correlated with more deaths from gun violence. But one thing he found was, perhaps, perfectly predictable: States with tighter gun control laws appear to have fewer gun-related deaths. The disclaimer here is that correlation is not causation. But correlations can be suggestive.'7
'Even during the best of economic times, youth and adults living with mental illness struggle to access essential mental health services and supports. Services are often unavailable or inaccessible for those who need them most. One in 17 people in America live with a serious mental illness such as schizophrenia, major depression, or bipolar disorder. About one in ten children live with a serious mental disorder. From 2009 to 2011, massive cuts are projected in 2011 and 2012. States have cut vital services for tens of thousands of youth and adults living with the most serious mental illness. These services include community and hospital based psychiatric care, housing and access to medications… Medicaid funding of mental health services is also potentially on the chopping block in 2011. The temporary increase in the federal funding of Medicaid through the stimulus package will end in June 30th 2011. Medicaid is the most important source of funding of public mental health services for youth and adults, leaving people with mental illness facing the real threat of being cut off from life-saving services.'8
'The challenge that lies ahead is one of further specifying the form of the relationship of mental illness and community violence and testing theorises of how this relationship can differ across subgroups of mentally ill persons. Uncovering a broad relationship does not in itself promote sounder policy or more effective services. However, continued integration of research and service provision sensitive to what this relationship means in the lives of people with mental illness could move towards this goal.'10