Mental Illness is Not the Cause of Mass Shootings

Mass shootings and gun violence are epidemics within the United States that are affecting far too many innocent people and need to be dealt with immediately. The Republican Party tends to blame mental illness for the mass shootings that occur. This theory is not only detrimental to the stigma around mental illness in the United States but also provides an excuse for a problem with a clear solution. Therefore, even though the United States has an abundantly clear issue with the stigmatization of mental illness, the real problem at the root of mass shootings is the accessibility of assault weapons and the leniency and lack of strong gun control legislation.

On Valentine’s Day of 2018, the United States saw its most fatal high school shooting. Nikolas Cruz, a nineteen-year-old who had been expelled from the school, opened fire at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, where he killed seventeen students and staff members and injured seventeen others. After the shooting in Parkland, Floridian legislators raised the minimum age for purchasing rifles to twenty-one yet Congress did not attempt to make any changes to federal gun policies (Council on Foreign Relations). Twenty survivors including notable leaders such as Emma González, David Hogg, and Cameron Kasky started an organization entitled, Never Again MSD, which quickly led to the nationally recognized, March for Our Lives.

Many government officials, specifically those with a Republican affiliation, tend to use an extremely detrimental scapegoat in their reasoning behind the abundant mass shootings in the United States. They almost always claim that these shootings stem from some sort of mental illness within the perpetrator. This does not only harm the progress being made in destigmatizing mental illness in the United States. According to the American Academy of Family Physicians, this claim is ludicrous and unsupported by any scientific evidence. All this claim does is perpetuate the idea that people with mental illnesses are violent which is not true for the overwhelming majority of those suffering from mental health problems. It also provides an excuse that allows legislators to not make any progress in the fight for better gun control laws (American Academy of Family Physicians).

However, whether or not the federal government takes action in the fight for mental health reform does not change the fact that that is not the reason behind mass shootings. According to a study published by the American Psychiatric Association entitled “Mass Shootings and Mental Illness”, people suffering from mental health issues commit a diminutive percentage of mass shootings and carry out less than one percent of the annual gun homicides. In this same study, it was detailed that people with mental illnesses are infinitely more likely to be the victims of violent crimes than the perpetrators. According to C-SPAN, in the press briefing following the shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio on August 3 and 4, respectively, President Donald Trump cited “mentally ill monsters” as the reason for these acts of violence. Many psychiatric specialists outright rejected those claims. 

The American Psychiatric Association issued a statement in response that read, “It is important to note that the overwhelming majority of people with mental illness are not violent and are far more likely to be victims of violent crime than perpetrators of violence. Rhetoric that argues otherwise will further stigmatize and interfere with people accessing needed treatment.” 

According to psychiatrist Amy Barnhorst, MD, the reasons behind this outlandish theory that is pumped through the media is likely a means of understanding an intangible idea and senseless act. Barnhorst told MedPage Today:

It’s hard for people to understand why they would have done it and they want to come up with some explanation. Many people don’t really understand what mental illness is, they just think it’s a problem with your mind. They think [a shooter’s] mind must not be working, and that’s why this happened. This further feeds into the stigmatization of mental illness and the lack of mental health education in the United States (MedPage Today). 

This quote details that blaming mental illness for these incessant shootings serves as nothing but an attempt to deflect attention from the real issue at hand: the easy accessibility of firearms and the lack of strong gun control legislation. The United States’ gun ownership legislation all stems from the Second Amendment which states, “A well-regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” While there are still some restrictions on the process of obtaining firearms, the Supreme Court has rolled back its decisions on some restrictions. For example, in 2008, the Supreme Court stripped Washington, DC of a law that banned handguns. In January 2016, President Barack Obama began to take many steps in order to decrease gun violence. These included making it a requirement for firearm dealers at gun shows and online to receive federal licenses as well as to conduct background checks. However, even though some small steps have been made in the right direction, there is not close to enough being done. According to the Council on Foreign Relations, as of 2019, there are no federal laws banning semi automatic assault weapons, military-style rifles, handguns, or large-capacity magazines in the United States. The United States accounts for roughly five percent of the world’s population yet holds 46 percent of the world’s civilian-owned guns. Not only does it house the most civilian-owned guns it has the highest amount of firearms per capita and the greatest homicide by firearm rate of all the world’s developed nations. Yet organizations like the National Rifle Association who profits like to claim that these statistics do not present a direct relationship. The United States has a serious problem with gun violence that other developed countries do not deal with to such an extent. 

The Christchurch mosque shootings were two chronological terroristic shootings at mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand on March 19, 2019. One day after the first victims were memorialized, Ardern announced a national ban on all semiautomatic weapons, all high capacity ammunition magazines and all parts that allow weapons to be modified into the kinds of guns that carried out the Christchurch attacks (New York Times).

Mass shootings within the United States are very frequent and barely any legislative change is ever made as a result of them. However, after almost each tragedy, legislators extend their thoughts and prayers and constantly fail to implement any sort of legislation to put an end to this horrendous cycle. The lack of legislative change on this topic can be attributed to a few major reasons. Members of the Republican Party often sound like broken records after each mass shooting, always citing the same reason for the mass shootings: mental illness. This is a scapegoat that pushes the misinformation that those suffering from mental illness are violent and are at the helm of mass shootings even though that theory is constantly discredited by notable psychiatrists and psychological professionals. This theory that has no credible evidence is detrimental to the stigma around mental illness in the United States while also providing an excuse for a problem that has a clear solution. The United States Congress needs to pass laws that call for stricter universal background checks and a ban on assault weapons, for example. So, therefore, even though the United States has an abundantly clear issue with the stigmatization of mental illness, the real problem at the root of mass shootings is the accessibility of assault weapons and the leniency and lack of strong gun control legislation.


Plan and Anxieties for P3

For my research paper, I will be debunking the theory that mass shooting are due to mental illnesses and bringing forth the argument that they are a direct result of the lack of strong gun control legislation in the United States. I will first be dismantling and discrediting the argument that mental illness plays any role in carrying out mass shootings. I will then discuss the fact that after each mass shooting, the United States Congress fails to implement any new legislation in order to protect their citizens. My worries for this paper are that I am trying to tackle too large of a topic and will not get my point across in under 3000 words.

Final Proposal

For my research paper on the problem with mass shootings in America, I plan to delve into the difference between gun control laws in the United States and other similar countries. I will also be researching the number of firearm-related deaths, specifically in mass shootings which are categorized by the FBI as “four or more murdered during an event with no “cooling-off period” between the murders”, in the United States as opposed to other countries. When making this comparison I will also be sure to keep the abundant population of the United States in mind since many other countries do not have as vast of a population. I am looking to distinguish a clear pattern between the lack of legislation regarding gun control and the number of mass shootings in the United States. I will also be researching the current gun control legislation that is in place and where the hold up is and why nothing is being put into action in society to counteract mass shootings. This is relevant research because it is affecting so many people in the United States and is a crisis that needs to be dealt with through policy instead of thoughts and prayers.

Lack of legislation is the reason for mass shootings in the U.S.

This goal of this paper is to establish and prove that the main issue behind the seemingly incessant mass shootings in the United States is not the mental health issues that the country faces. Many other countries face parallel issues with mental health yet none of them have statistics that can compare to the number of mass shootings that occur in the United States on a sickening basis. The leniency in America on gun control legislation is very much to blame for the epidemic of gun violence taking the country by storm. So, therefore, even though the United States has an abundantly clear issue with the stigmatizing mental illness, the real problem at the root of mass shootings is the accessibility of assault weapons and the leniency of gun control legislation.

As far as research goes, I plan to delve into the difference between gun control laws in the United States and other similar countries. I will also be researching the number of firearm-related deaths in the United States as opposed to other countries while also comparing that to the population since the United States is an incredibly populated country. I am looking to distinguish a clear pattern between the lack of legislation regarding gun control and the number of mass shootings in the United States.

The Downfalls of Space Colonization

Space colonization, or what can also be referred to as space settlement and extraterrestrial colonization, is permanent human habitation in places in the solar system besides Earth. There are many different opinions on both sides of space colonization. There are many obstacles that would have to be tackled prior in order to seriously consider space colonization. Not one space colony has ever been built, therefore, this is not a plausible idea. There is an abundance of technological and economic issues that you would run into with colonizing in outer space. It is not a realistic project and should not be entertained.

The economic obstacles when it comes to space colonization are astronomical. It is an incredible cost to send anything into orbit. However, sending the supplies, manpower, and people, in order to inhibit a whole space colony, would cost the government or any private organization an insane amount of money. In my opinion, this unrealistic amount of money does not in any way outweigh the comparatively small advances that some space colonization could bring.

The main argument for space colonization is the prospect of long-term survival of human civilization. This survival rate is said to long surpass that on Earth. It is believed by some that by developing places to live outside of Earth, that those who inhabit the planet would be able to continue living in the event of a disaster striking planet Earth. However, there is no reason for this to occur. The resources to complete this idea are unavailable and there are issues far more pressing than space colonization.

More than once, theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking argued for space colonization as a means of saving humanity. Hawking predicted that the human race would become extinct within the next thousand years unless colonies could be established in space. He later stated that humanity faces one of two dire options. Humans could either colonize space within at most the next two hundred years and build residential units on other planets, or everyone will face the prospect of complete extinction. I think that nature should be allowed to run its course and we, as a human race, should not make inhabitable planets into a place to live if it will take an incredible amount of technological advancement along with funds.

Therefore, space colonization should not be a discussion that the human race is having at all. It is an unrealistic solution to an even more pressing issue. The money that would need to be spent in order to achieve this goal would be a complete waste of an astronomical amount of money.

The Strength of the Ethical Argument in “The Ethics and Aesthetics of Photojournalism”

In Marina Smolens’ essay entitled, “The Ethics and Aesthetics of Photojournalism,” she explores the idea of the possibly exploitative and over-beautifying nature of modern photojournalism. Through her balanced use of an emotional appeal in pathos, establishing authority in ethos, and providing many credible sources in logos, Smolens successfully proved her thesis with a strong argument.

According to this essay, “The Ethics and Aesthetics of Photojournalism”, photojournalism is different from fine art photography in some key ways and certain rules apply to photojournalists and their work. There is a lot of pressure and critiques placed upon photojournalists as their job is to tread on a fine line between ethics and information.

Smolens used pathos, ethos, and logos to strengthen her argument and appeal to and capture the attention of her audience.

Smolens utilized pathos in many ways throughout the course of her essay. For instance, when discussing Sebastiao Salgado’s photograph, The End of the Road”, Smolens uses a lot of emotionally charged language to connect with the reader and get her point across. Using this kind of language allows for the reader to emotionally connect with the piece and it strengthens the argument because the audience gets personally invested which makes them more likely to believe the thesis.  Since the topic of this essay was centered around the beautification and ethical nature of photojournalism, Smolens used an abundance of pathos which served her argument well.

Smolens also used the technique of ethos in her essay extensively. Smolens achieved this technique by researching and citing background information from the National Press Photographers Association and its Code of Ethics in order to establish the fact that she is knowledgeable about the topic at hand.

Personally, there were a few things I would have done differently if I was writing about this topic. I would have focused on more prominently controversial photos for my examples. Using pictures with more cultural weight would have taken Smolens’ argument to another level.

Although there were a few things I would have done differently when tackling this topic, Smolens successfully proved her thesis through her use of many argumentative methods. She appealed to her audience’s emotions using pathos, established her own authority and credibility on the topic using ethos, and provided many credible sources and quotes in logos. 

Analysis: The Ethics and Aesthetics of Photojournalism


“While photojournalism may be exploitive, this exploitation is not always unethical and sometimes even necessary in creating an image that is both beautiful and impactful.”

Smolens utilizes ethos in her argument a multitude of times. She cites the National Press Photographers Association and their Code of Ethics in order to obtain credibility and provide a background on the rules set forth by a respected organization on this topic.

Smolens uses pathos in her argument frequently. By using Sebastiao Salgado’s emotionally striking photograph, she grabs the reader’s attention by grabbing ahold of their emotions. Including the photos that she used in her argument was a smart way to incorporate pathos into her argument. She also talks about the connection between viewers and the photos themselves, a point that makes the argument even more personal.

“They deliver to us beautiful, haunting, informative, truthful, horrific, meaningful, profound images, and so what we do when we view them is just as important.”

“An experience is something that personally affects your life, and so rather than just creating a great photograph that is nice to look at, he also wants it to personally touch you in some way.”

Smolens appeals to logos a lot throughout the course of her argument. She uses a lot of resources and reliable sources to provide good information about her topic. Smolens also utilizes quotes from real photojournalists on their opinions of the ethics of photojournalism.

“Photojournalism,” suggests that “[p]hotojournalists at their best produce visual references that illuminate human activity, reveal our vices and virtues, and offer iconic representations of events and individuals in a manner that can be ‘read’ by as many as possible”

My 87 Year Old Twin

Giro “Jerry” Gallo was quite the character. He was not very affectionate and almost never told anyone that he loved them, including but not limited to, his 11 grandchildren. He instead baked you an abundance of loaves of bread, made you soups, and bought you pretzels from Philly Pretzel Factory. 

It was about 1:30 in the morning on January 27, 2019, when my mom woke me up with the worst news I could imagine, my grandpa, Jerry, had passed away. My grandpa, who we all refer to as “Poppy”, had been sick for a while. My grandpa and I were similar in so many ways and knowing that I am carrying on parts of his personality helps me to deal with the loss of such an important figure in my life. I made him laugh like no one else. 

Two days before the 27th, my grandpa left the rehabilitation center he had spent the past month in and was put on hospice care, so we knew the end was near. The next day, my entire, extended, Italian family came over, bearing all different foods. As soon as we ventured into the basement, the mood shifted. We all sat around his bed in silence, trying to come to terms with what was laying in front of us. That night some of my cousins, aunts, and uncles stayed the night. Even though we thought he would have a bit more time with us, no one could bring themselves to leave. 

At 1:30 in the morning the very next day, my grandpa took his last breath. The next few days dragged by and were full of tears, hugs, and sympathy. We filled an abundance of boards with pictures that we didn’t even realize we had. He was just such a large part of our lives that he was always there and in turn, in so many of our pictures. Although it was hard, assembling those boards brought my cousin and me closer and made us feel oddly comforted in the hardest loss of our lives thus far. 

My grandpa was the only grandparent I have ever met. The other three passed away before I was born, so my grandpa knew that he really had to step up. He played all the roles that we needed growing up. He picked out presents (with help from my mom) we would like for every Christmas Eve, anything from American Girl dolls to a Vera Bradley duffel bag. He was there for every big milestone and carrying on without him has been one of the hardest things I’ve had to deal with. 

To this day, I possess so many similar mannerisms to him that my whole family points out. My mom even calls me Jerry on occasion because so many say that I am his twin. I miss him every day, but it is somewhat comforting to know that I carry on some of his most endearing qualities. So, after 87 years on this planet, my grandpa went to be with my grandma, who I never met but I’m sure was just as memorable. 

About Me

My name is Mia Gallo and I am from Aberdeen, New Jersey, a small town by the Jersey Shore. Therefore, I have had some of the best bagels and pizza on the planet. I am a Political Science major and my career goal is to be the President, but a notable Senator would suffice. I love online shopping, extremely strong iced coffee, and talking way too much and way too fast.