Friday, December 14th, 2012 will forever be remembered as the day that Adam Lanza shot his way into Sandy Hook Elementary School, taking the lives of 20 young children and 6 adults by firearm. Lanza later shot himself.
One thing that Republicans, Democrats, Mayors Against Illegal Guns, and the National Rifle Association can agree upon is the importance of raising awareness about mental health issues. Gun control and mental health have been meshed together in recent media in light of the revelation that Lanza suffered from Asperger’s Syndrome. While not every mass murderer is necessarily subject to a diagnosable disease, there have been questions raised surrounding the 16 mass shootings in the United States this year and access to quality mental health care.
A 2010 UN report on firearms reveals that the United States leads the world in firearm ownership with a rate of 88.8 per 100 inhabitants; Yemen is the next closest country with a rate of 54.8 per 100. There are roughly 270 million firearm holdings in the United States, which is more than twice the rate of India, China, Germany, and France combined. An alarming 86% of guns used by individuals now imprisoned were acquired via the black market, street deals, theft, or from friends. With this stature of statistics, the hope is that the United States can find those with mental health issues before a gun reaches their hands. Obama’s healthcare reform law calls for parity between mental health benefits and other medical benefits, certainly a step in the right direction. Hopefully we can find a solution and help to avoid another tragedy.