America is no stranger to gun violence. With schools practicing lockdown drills, discussions of teachers carrying guns and more security roaming the halls, this fear is always on our minds. But why do we put the responsibility of protection on the schools rather than the source of the guns? This is a question with an answer complicated by controversy, the second amendment and the unpredictable nature of potential attackers.
The Biden administration is trying to take a step toward a safer country by putting around $300 million into mental health funding. The hope is that the funding will allow more people to receive help and prevent guns from falling into the hands of the mentally unwell. While it is a great step for the Biden administration to take, it is not enough to protect us from the threat of another shooting.
There are two main factors that need to be considered when it comes to gun control: the motivations and mentality of the gun owner and the types of guns being sold. This new mental health funding will help with one of these factors and allow background checks to be more thorough so guns do not end up in the wrong hands. However, what about the types of guns that are being sold?
When President Biden signed the anti-gun violence law, he wanted to ban people under the age of 21 from buying assault rifles and semiautomatic weapons. However, these guns are designed to kill mass amounts of people, so why are they being sold to civilians in general? What do they need these guns for? With the issue of gun control, there are too many unanswered questions.
A common gun seen in many shootings is the AR-15, a semiautomatic rifle. According to Sara Zhang, a writer for the website WIRED, compared to a standard 9mm handgun, a bullet from an AR-15 leaves the gun at three times the speed of a 9mm bullet. It has the capacity to disintegrate 3 inches of leg bone upon impact. It can also leave an exit wound the size of an orange and generally requires multiple surgeries to heal properly if the victim survives the attack. What makes this gun even more dangerous is that the moment the shooter pulls the trigger, they can shoot multiple bullets in a row without kickback from the gun, making it easier to hurt more targets.
This does not sound like a gun that should be in the hands of the general public. If a person wants a gun for their safety, they can buy a handgun. Or if a hunter needs a gun to guarantee a meal, a shotgun works for that. However, assault rifles and semiautomatic weapons are overkill.
Aside from the gun control aspect, this funding for mental health is an overall fantastic step. As a college student, I feel secure in the idea that mental health is not being glossed over. Mental health struggles are only growing as time goes on. Researchers from the Healthy Minds Network collected data that showed that “the mental health of college students across the United States has been on a consistent decline for all eight years of data analyzed, with an overall 135 percent increase in depression and 110 percent increase in anxiety from 2013 to 2021.”
I see students struggling with mental health all around me. Stress is the most common feeling among the student population, which breeds anxiety and depression. I personally struggle with my mental health as well. I have had anxiety for many years now, and despite going to therapy to develop coping skills, it is hard to maintain my mental health while balancing my school priorities.
This new funding for mental health is an amazing step forward for those who suffer, especially college students. It is also a nice start towards more gun control. However, it is not enough to protect us from the dangers of shootings. Now there needs to be a focus on what kinds of guns the nation is allowing citizens to buy.
Photo courtesy of Prachatai, Flickr