Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Guns, Mental Health and the Bushmaster Assault Weapon

Much had been made of the connections between mental health disorders and recent mass shootings in our nation.  Members of the gun lobby would have us believe that there is no connection between the guns chosen by shooters and mental health.  First let me point out that mental health is a broad field and any attempt to paint all those with mental health issues as potentially dangerous is absurd and with out evidence to support it.

That being said,  there are individuals with mental health issues who pose a threat to society. Having worked in mental health and provided services to individuals with delusional thinking processes it is clear that the current debate is missing the critical link between assault weapons and attacks on our population.

Journey with me for a moment into the mind of one of these individuals.  Feeling alone and with out options these individuals do not have the ability to separate what is real and what is fantasy. As a group, these individuals process external stimuli in a very different way than those without delusional thinking.

Enter into the picture the constant glorification of movie images such as this:

Add to the mix the easy availability of weapons such as this:

Stir and add video game images such as this:

Society sends the messages that this kind of violence is a legitimate means of taking control and manifesting change. These individuals interpret these images very differently. Frankly, they fixate on these images as a way to salvation, empowerment, fame or honor etc. It is no coincidence that in four recent shootings the weapon of choice was a Bushmaster assault weapon.

This is no anti gun rant.  If the images we were exposing those with mental health issues too were more like these below I would have no problem with them.

So there you have it, mental health disorders do play a part as does the availability of assault weapons and the violent images in our media. Lets have a real conversation about how we can insure the safety of our communities!

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