As the dust settles and authorities begin to sort out the details of exactly what led to the massacre at Umpqua Community College, we are starting to hear from a variety of people. Over the past few days the shooter’s father has spoken out, along with some of the survivors, and the family members of some victims. Of course, each brings his or her unique opinion and perspective into the conversation.
So it shouldn’t surprise you that, in a county that voted overwhelmingly for Mitt Romney in 2012, that not everyone agrees with President Obama’s assessment of what needs to be done to prevent more bloodshed.
Jessy Atkinson’s sister, Cheyenne, survived the carnage, which makes him an interesting choice of individual to weigh in on the shooting. But he and his mother Bonnie appeared with Anderson Cooper on CNN to tell viewers that President Obama has it all wrong (of course!).
Cooper asks Atkinson what he would say to the President if he had a chance to talk to him about the shooting, and his remarks afterwards. Atkinson replies,
I would tell him to look where the problem really lies and quit running the agenda — quit running the gun agenda. It’s not the problem. It’s mental health in America. It’s obvious. All of us talk about it. I don’t know why we are hiding from it.
By “gun agenda,” Atkinson is talking about the idea that we should attempt to do something about these shootings by tightening gun regulations. “Mental health” has become the rallying cry of those who insist that America has far more mass shootings than any other country not because we are awash in weaponry, but because we have a bigger problem with mental health than other countries do.
President Obama pointed a finger at the way the country deals with mental illness when he addressed the nation following the Oregon shooting. But he also said that it’s more than that, and he’s right. According to the World Health Organization, the U.S. spends as much or more on mental health per capita as do most of our allies. But when you look at the number of gun homicides, the U.S. leads the way, by far. So mental health may be an issue, but it is not the issue, as the pro-gun crowd wants to make it out to be.
The following chart, from Tewksbury Lab, reveals a simple fact that Jessy Atkinson and the NRA doesn’t want to address. While the U.S. leads the way by far in gun deaths, there is a strong correlation worldwide between the number of guns in a country, and homicides by firearm. That is a common sense statistic to most of us, but it’s one that the NRA and their allies don’t want to touch.
If American lawmakers would ever get serious about gun legislation, we might be able to find out what part easy access to guns plays in these shootings, although we really already know. We just won’t admit it.
Here are Jessy Atkinson’s comments, via CNN:
Featured image via CNN screen capture