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My thoughts on Newtown: A policy issue

Joined: 1/27/2013
Posts: 1
As soon as the Newtown shooting was reported, people on social networking sites and even news outlets blamed and theorized on the shooter’s mental state and possible illness. This is an issue since mental illness may not be the main cause or problem with the recent violence. “While a small subset of people with mental illnesses become violent, the vast majority of people with psychiatric disorders do not”, says Linda Teplin, a professor of psychiatry and behavioral science at Northwestern University Feingberg School of Medicine. Even though the shooter, Adam Lanza was diagnosed with Asperger’s, or at least many news sources and evidence has pointed to this diagnosis, this cannot be seen as the problem. While Asperger’s has the symptoms of aggression, it does not have the symptoms of planned violence like Adam Lanza committed. While suggested programs and services for those with mental illness should be increased, we must make sure not to add to the stigma of mental illness by constantly associating it with violence.
A solution that would probably be more helpful would be more restrictions on gun ownership. The United States has the highest amount of guns in the world. Currently there are 88.8 guns for every 100 people. The affect gun laws could have on preventing violence is evident when comparing the recent violence in Newtown and Central China. On the same day as the Newtown shooting, a man walked into a school in Central China and stabbed multiple children. This act resulted in many being injured but unlike in Newtown, no one was killed. “The huge difference between this case and the U.S. is not the suspect, nor the situation, but the simple fact that he did not have an effective weapon”, says Dr. Ding Xueliang, a sociologist. The difference in weapons is caused by the fact that China greatly restricts access to guns. While the United States does not have to be as strict as China’s gun policy, gun policy here could be improved by requiring more detailed background checks on those purchasing guns. However to dispel increasing interest in gun control, gun rights activists and NRA officials have suggested arming teachers or placing armed security or police into schools. While this solution may seem effective, they would see that the addition of guns to the equation has not helped to prevent other tragedies like Newtown. Columbine had an armed guard and Virginia Tech had their own police force. Despite the presence of armed officials, 13 and 32 people were still killed in these places respectively.
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