Rep. Tim Murphy, R., PA, introduced the Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act of 2013, last December after a year of investigating the Newtown Massacre. Conservative Republicans claimed the problem of Newtown and other school shootings was mental health rather than availability of guns, but they did nothing about either. What is your position on this issue?
Response by Arthur:
It seems strange that some Americans have difficulty understanding that very few issues lend themselves to easy answers. The type of violence that occurred in Newtown and numerous other locations will only be minimized if we take a comprehensive approach towards addressing them. As difficult as it is to comprehend, it may be that gun control is not the most difficult task.
Addressing mental health issues is vital, not only to curb gun violence, but also to reduce dysfunctional behavior in our society. Perhaps most importantly, we need to make improvements in our mental health system as a humanitarian act to relieve the pain and stress that so many people suffer.
According to NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness), one in four adults—approximately 61.5 million Americans – experiences mental illness in a given year. Approximately 20 percent of youth ages 13 to 18 experience severe mental disorders in a given year.
I think that it’s important for us to simultaneously address the mental health needs in our country and the ever-increasing supply of guns, both legal and illegal. These issues overlap and when they do, we see repeated tragedies. One thing that ties together a solution to both is common sense. It makes common sense to drastically reduce the number of guns in our society and it’s equally clear that responding to mental health needs is vitally important as the world becomes more complicated and unpredictable stimuli impact both youth and adults.