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Ladson Anderson

UWRT 1104

Prof. Lazzara

10/25/18

Is it fair to blame people with mental illness for our problem with gun violence? All

throughout my high school career i had the privilege to work with my schools special needs

programs. This was by far one of the best experiences i had during high school because they

were some of the nicest people you could ever talk to. Everyday i saw them they would come up

and give me a hug or do one of our secret hand shakes and ask me how my day was going and if

that doesn't make you smile nothing will. From helping them with their homework, to helping

compete at the special olympics, and working at the special needs prom, everything was so much

fun. For those of you who don't know what the special olympics is i would highly recommend

volunteering for it and getting involved. Before the event takes place you get to work with the

kids and help train them to get them ready a few weeks before the event. The special olympics

gives the kids a chance to go compete other kids with special needs in events like running, long

toss and other olympic like events and they have an absolute blast while doing so. The other

event i had the pleasure of helping with the the special needs prom. This was a dance that we had

every year since many of the kids were not able to attend the regular prom and other dances

because of the amount of people and all the noise that went along with it. Being able to host a

dance like this was a lot of work, but it was definitely worth it in the end to see how much fun
they would have. They are just like me and you and love to have fun and interact with others, but

they just have a harder time doing that with the circumstances they are given.

Mental illness is a medical condition that can disrupt a person's feelings, thinking, mood

and daily functioning and is often more serious than some people make it seem (Ranna Parekh).

This is a type of illness is not something that you can just get rid of by just pushing through it. It

often times gets worse the longer it's ignored, which is a big problem because people often feel

as if they would be judged or thought of as crazy if they were to come forward about the

problem. Even though it is hard to come forward and addressing the problem those who do

address the problem have a 70%-90% decrease in their symptoms (Ranna Parekh).

Mental illness is also not limited by somebody's age or race even though it is possible to

gain mental illness as you grow in age such as dementia. Dementia is a disease that affects

cognitive and behavioral functions. These illnesses can affect a person's ability to think, act in

certain situations and be able to control themselves. Some of the most serious mental illnesses

that are prevalent in the United States are post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), schizophrenia,

obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), and personality disorder but the most common mental

illness is Anxiety disorder and Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). These mental

illnesses often have a huge impact on a person's ability to make reasonable thoughts and actions

which can cause them to do bad things but can be well controlled by medication. Even though

many of these mental illnesses are things that you develop in your brain and are not really

impacted by the community around you there are certain things that can lead to mental illness

and dangerous behavior.


The abuse cycle is an example of how the community around you can cause mental

illnesses and/or dangerous behavior. The abuse cycle relies on the use of domestic violence and

abuse, which can come in forms of mental abuse or physical abuse (white Ribbon). Many people

fail to realize that they are caught up in the abuse cycle when its just psychological abuse

because they often aren't able to see what's going on. Often times people tend to relate domestic

violence or abuse with the hitting of another person when often times it mainly relies on the

psychological side of abuse. The abuser wants to feel like they have control of everything going

on and will often say anything to make it seem like they have to power. They will often use fear,

guilt and intimidation to wear you down and make it so you feel as if you don't have an option to

leave. There are many different signs to let you know if you are in an abusive relationship or not

and the most common one is that you are afraid of the person and you feel as if you are being

controlled. Some other key signs to know if you are in an abusive relationship are if you feel

helpless, if your partner humiliates you, if they constantly criticize you, and they blame you for

their behavior. If you notice just one of these signs it's important that you get out of the

relationship immediately before it can cause permanent psychological damage or mental illness.

The cycle of violence theory is one such that if a kid were to be abused or had seen a lot

of violence in their earlier years, they were more likely to commit a crime (white ribbon). It is

the called the “cycle” of violence theory because it acts like a cycle. First the person is exposed

to being abused or seeing a lot of violence between other people at a younger age which can

cause them to become aggressive themselves which leads them to being aggressive and abusive

towards others so as their kids or just random people. This then causes the people they abuse to

repeat the cycle and it just keeps going on and on. This type of mental illness is not something
that you are just born with but rather something that you develop through experience but anti gun

activist and the media just blast the criminals face all over the news calling them all sorts of

names when in reality it may have not been their fault. Yes, they are the ones that committed the

crime but what if their parents had mistreated them all of their life, and they had seen their

parents use guns and mistreat them? I think this could lead up to somebody lashing out in a gun

violence incident because that is something they are used to and they don't think much of it

because its almost normalized for them. This type of mistreatment growing up could also lead to

mental illness in people. But how does all of this tie into gun violence?

Gun violence has been a huge problem the past few decades. Thousands of people have

died to due to gun violence but even more have been affected by it from losing family and

friends to seeing it happen in person. The most known type of gun violence that has been a huge

problem lately is mass shooting. Whether these mass shootings happen in a school or happen at

events like concerts or movies. People always assume that when somebody does something like

this they must have some sort of mental illness when in fact less than 3% of all violent crimes are

committed by people with mental illness.(Knoll J.) But why are they the ones being blamed?

Often times gun activist need somebody to blame right after an incident like a mass shooting and

and the mentally ill are usually first to blame because people think that only somebody that is

crazy could commit such an awful crime. People pointing fingers and putting the blame on

people with mental illness has given them a bad reputation. This bad reputation that they are

receiving also has a huge impact on their lives. With people thinking that mentally ill people are

“bad” causes them not to vote for things such as mental health care. Another interesting fact i

found was that people with mental illness are actually eleven times more likely to be the victim
of a violent act because they might seem like an easier target than most (healthcare in america).

So even with all these facts and research the media still thinks its alright to blame the mentally ill

for these horrific crimes?

According to “Evaluating Gun Policy” by jens ludwig, the united states has an unusually

high rate of both gun ownership and murder. This raises the question of whether adults should be

able to carry firearms or not. This question has been debated very heavily from both sides. Some

people believe that people should be able to carry guns because they could potential stop a mass

shooting or murder while others believe that we should not be able to carry guns because the

more guns there are on the streets, the more likely gun violence is to occur. The reason that there

is such differing opinions is because there is no sound evidence that one is better than the other

(Ludwig ). While ​a​merica has over 200 millions guns in circulations, only one fourth of all

americans on guns (Ludwig J). Majority of people that have guns other than handguns likely use

them for hunting and sport shooting and are much less likely to commit any crimes with them

(Ludwig J). With this many guns in circulations is it possible to lower gun violence rates?

Even though most guns in circulation today come from a license dealer, almost 30-40%

of all guns are not bought from licensed dealers but rather through a secondary market (Ludwig

J). Another important fact is that almost 500,000 guns are stolen every year (Ludwig J). With

these many guns being stolen and sold in secondary markets, it makes it almost impossible to put

an end to gun violence. In 1999 there were 28,874 people that died from firearms wether is be

homicide, suicide or an accident and this number has done nothing but increase in the following

years (Ludwig J). But what can be done to help of fix this issue?
According to Jens Ludwig, “ federal law affords most people access to most types of gun;

the law is permissive but with delineated exceptions, specifying certain categories of people that

are banned from possession, and certains guns that are banned of tightly regulated.” Companies

that sell guns are required to have a license and all sales records are kept. There haven't been

many policies to try and change how guns are regulated but one in particular that is still used

today is the Gun Control Act (GCA). the GCA prevents minors, illegal aliens, those confined by

court order of mental illness and those with felonies from purchasing firearms. In order for

people to buy a gun, they must have a ID and undergo a background check to make sure they are

eligible. The background check isn't very rigorous even though it should focus on more areas

because focusing on mental illness isn't as important as focusing on something such as previous

arrest records that were not felonies. I believe that there should also be a certain waiting period

for when you receive you firearms because some people will get mad and on impulse go buy a

gun and this waiting period could let them have some time to think about the situation.

● Personal experiences
○ Talk about how i worked with special needs kids all throughout high school and
and different stories and experiences i have from helping them with their school
work to taking them to the special olympics

● Mental illness
○ Describe what mental illness is and the different types that exist and which are the
most prevalent in our society today. At the end of the paragraph just begin to get
in the idea of what can potentially cause these issues.

● The abuse cycle


○ Talk about what the abuse cycle is and what impact it can potentially have of
people. Talk about how it can lead to people that suffer with depression and anger
issues and how this can lead to gun violence
● Gun Violence
○ What is gun violence, how does gun violence affect people and communities,
where does most gun violence take place.
● Statistics
○ Give statistics about age, gender, race for people who commit gun violence and
also analyze statistics from previous years and see how they have either increased
or decreased.

● Policies
○ Evaluate gun policies to have been put in place in previous years in different areas
and analyze whether they worked or not and what could possibly be changed then
look at current policies and policies that are being attempted to be put into effect.
How does the media influence these policies?

● The media
○ How does the media play in role in all of this. How do they affect gun violence
and who does it and where it happens. How do they influence the public by
making them see what they want them to see?

Ross, P. (2018). Mental health and gun violence – Healthcare in America. Retrieved from
https://healthcareinamerica.us/mental-health-and-gun-violence-607dbb564fb6

Beck, J. The Atlantic - ​Untangling Gun Violence from Mental Illness​. (2016). Retrieved from
https://namimc.org/untangling-gun-violence-mental-illness/

Blumstein A.,Cork D.(1996) Linking Gun Availability to Youth Gun Violence. Retrieved From
https://www.jstor.org/stable/1192207?seq=1#metadata_info_tab_contents

Cook P., Ludwig J. (2000) Gun Violence: The Real Cost. Oxford University: Philip J. Cook
Retrieved From
https://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=JXg8DwAAQBAJ&oi=fnd&pg=PR13&dq=
gun+violence&ots=0VyMUUPIHu&sig=aN4SGq0AY-nJSKycapOPVrPBmMg#v=onepag
e&q=gun%20violence&f=false​.

Knoll J., Annus G. (2016) Mass Shootings and Mental Illness. Retrieved From
https://psychiatryonline.org/doi/pdf/10.5555/appi.books.9781615371099
Cook P., Ludwig L. (2002) Evaluating Gun Policy: Effects on Crime and Violence. Retrieved
From
https://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=nChWOCgeX2oC&oi=fnd&pg=PR7&dq=
gun+violence&ots=LPyMJXq72x&sig=1pv0uKF1-po0O8it2f5qWPmI60Q#v=onepage&q=
gun%20violence&f=false

Bertenthal, Karen H., Miner. (2007) Bringing the War Back Home. Retrieved From
https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamainternalmedicine/fullarticle/769661

Birkland T., Lawrence R. (2009) Media Framing and Policy Changing After Columbine.
Retrieved From ​http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/pdf/10.1177/0002764209332555