Targeting guns will not stop violence
As the smoke was clearing in Boston and West, Texas, Wednesday after a week of tumult, members of the U.S. Senate had a chance to show the country they are serious about curbing the epidemic of violence that has plagued America in recent months.Last week, pro-gun senators Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) toed the bipartisan line together and presented a compromise bill that called for background checks for all gun buyers. The bill was a band-aid solution, but it was a step forward after the gun control debate on Capitol Hill had become clotted and anemic.It comes as no surprise that the bill was defeated by a vote of 54-46.With no solution in sight, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said the Senate will take a pause and return to the gun debate at a later date.Perhaps this is a smart move, as a new Gallup poll released Monday shows that only four percent of Americans think gun control is the most important problem facing the country.Instead of focusing on gun control, politicians in Washington need to turn their attention to violent behavior in general and to the failing mental health of Americans.In 2011, The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration issued results of 5-year study on mental illness that found 11 million Americans suffer from a serious mental disorder.Background checks are an efficient stop-gap at keeping weapons out of dangerous hands, but they are not going to stop people with serious mental illnesses from committing senseless, pre-meditated acts of violence. The Boston Marathon bombing proves this, as the weapon of choice was a pressure cooker filled with nails and ball bearings.Anyone who creates an IED out of a kitchen appliance is clearly mentally ill.Targeting only guns is too narrow of a focus to fix the problems that face America. If our senators want to fix the problem of gun violence when they return to the debate, they need to take mental illness into account and find solutions that will keep Americans safe.
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