The Scholar: St. Mary's Law Review on Race and Social Justice


Morgan Stanley


Throughout the year 2012, senseless violence and tragedy plagued the United States. Numerous mass shootings occurred, leaving innocent victims dead and leaving their survivors to grieve. No single law can prevent a mass shooting from occurring, but access to firearms is one of many potential reasons such tragedies happen. There are many reasons why a gunman is motivated to commit such heinous acts. Failure to take notice of warning signs, bullying, drug use, and serious mental illness are a few examples. One in seventeen Americans live with a serious diagnosable mental illness. Most mentally ill persons are the victims of violent acts as opposed to the perpetrators. However, a few cases – such as Columbine, Virginia Tech, and Sandy Hook – show the most extreme consequences of inadequate mental health services which ultimately led to a horrific crime. Cuts to mental health services and non-mandated reporting of mental health data by the states does not aid mentally ill individuals in getting the help they need so they do not harm themselves or others. Various countries across the globe have enacted their own versions of gun control legislation in response to similar heinous acts of mass public violence. However, numerous attempts at gun control legislation in America have failed when placed on the desks of Congress. The Senate in 2013 blocked several measures which called for expanding gun control. These measures included expanding background checks for all gun buyers, banning assault weapons, and banning high capacity magazines. The bi-partisan bill, widely supported by the American people, ultimately fell according to party lines. The debate over gun control will not end so long as the passion for change remains in the American people.

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