Mental illness is not behind most gun violence

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I read with interest your description of U.S. Rep. Tim Murphy’s proposal for reducing gun violence in the United States (“After Newtown,” March 2 editorial). While I concur that the mixture of mental illness and guns is a toxic one and that we should address this issue as one approach to reducing the unacceptable level of gun violence in this country, your editorial leads me to a couple of questions: Are we the only country in the industrialized world with citizens who have mental illness? Is most of the gun violence in this country committed by the mentally ill? The answer is pretty obvious — no.

We lead the industrialized world in gun violence for one primary reason: There are too many guns and they are becoming easier and easier to obtain. Is there any other country in the world where this is so? As you suggest, Rep. Murphy’s recommendations should be taken seriously. Mr. Murphy also happens to be a very conservative Republican who will not go near the issue of gun control, being totally beholden (like the rest of his caucus in the House of Representatives) to the gun lobby.

I am all for the sporting use of guns by responsible gun owners. Beyond that, our near mania for guns in this country is perplexing. We often hear the term “American exceptionalism,” meaning that we present ourselves as an exceptionally good role model to the rest of the world. Unfortunately, gun violence is one issue where I wish we weren’t so “exceptional.”

South Fayette

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