The recent mass shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, that left 31 dead and dozens injured highlight the need for common sense gun legislation in Pennsylvania.
While President Donald Trump blames violent video games and mental illness for the deadly shootings, the evidence does not support his assertions.
Experts say there is no evidence linking mental illness with mass shootings.
“The vast majority of people with mental health problems are no more likely to be violent than anyone else,” according to the website mentalhealth.gov. “Most people with mental illness are not violent and only 3%–5% of violent acts can be attributed to individuals living with a serious mental illness. In fact, people with severe mental illnesses are over 10 times more likely to be victims of violent crime than the general population.”
There is also no scientific link between video games and mass violence.
The American Psychological Association’s Media Psychology and Technology Division said in 2017 that “scant evidence has emerged that makes any causal or correlation connection between playing violent video games and actually committing violent activities.”
In 2006, a small study by Indiana University researchers found that teenagers who played violent video games showed higher levels of emotional arousal but less activity in the parts of the brain associated with the ability to plan, control and direct thoughts and behavior, according to a fact check report by the Associated Press.
“Patrick Markey, a psychology professor at Villanova University who focuses on video games, found in his research that men who commit severe acts of violence actually play violent video games less than the average male,” AP reported. “About 20% were interested in violent video games, compared with 70% of the general population, he said.”
The U.S. Supreme Court said in a 7-2 decision in 2011 that psychological studies purporting to show a connection between violent video games and harmful effects on children “do not prove that such exposure causes minors to act aggressively.” The opinion was written by the late Justice Antonin Scalia, a conservative.
What we do know is that angry men armed with assault weapons lead to mass violence.
Authorities say the El Paso shooting suspect, who is white, confessed to targeting people of Mexican descent. The suspect also is believed to have written an anti-Hispanic rant before gunning down mostly Latino Walmart shoppers with an AK-47-style rifle. In Dayton, the gunman used an assault rifle with a 100-round magazine to kill nine people. The motive for the shooting is still unknown.
Mass shootings have occurred across the United States, including Pennsylvania. Last year a gunman killed 11 worshipers at a Pittsburgh synagogue, the deadliest attack on Jews in U.S. history.
Authorities say Robert Bowers opened fire with an AR-15 rifle and other weapons during worship services inside the Tree of Life synagogue. Bowers allegedly expressed hatred of Jews during the Oct. 27 rampage and later told police that “all these Jews need to die.”
Lawmakers should pass common-sense gun legislation on both the federal and state levels.
State lawmakers should bring forward legislation that has been stuck in committees controlled by Republican majorities in both the House and Senate.
Among the legislation that should come to the floor for votes are bills that would ban assault rifles, require background checks on all gun purchases and mandate reporting for lost or stolen guns, and a bill that would allow for individuals, law enforcement and judges to seek temporary restrictions on gun access for people considered to be a risk to themselves or others.
State lawmakers should enact a red flag law already in place in 17 states. Red flag laws allow guns to be taken away from people believed to be a danger to themselves or others.
These proposals will not impede the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding gun owners. Report finds stricter gun laws don’t prevent law-abiding citizens from getting guns.
For example, Massachusetts has some of the most restrictive gun licensing laws in the country. Yet 97 percent of people who apply for a license are still granted one, according to a 2017 Northeastern University study.
There is no excuse for lawmakers not to pass reasonable gun legislation.