Sean Sherman on Guns, Shootings and Mental Illness

Sean, a member of MAM has a blog with awesome content called Godless In Detroit.  His blog has quickly climbed into my top 5 favorite blogs.  The last time I read his blog, Sean provided an interesting perspective on guns, shooters behind mass killings and mental illness.  America has become divided on the issue of gun control.  Read Sean’s post… I hope you enjoy ite post as much as I did.  Post modified for context (read post in original format, here)

I know what its like to be confined to an inpatient facility (mental ward), I’ve been there twice. I know what its like to have extensive outpatient treatment. I got more crap for all of that than I ever have for my outspoken atheism. This was also years ago so I know we can and do recover. I lost a friend with depression not to a gun, but of all things a train. I have had several friends with severe bipolar and schizophrenic illnesses and they are decent people. Many people have mental illnesses and you wouldn’t be able to tell unless they informed you. I can also empathize with the bewilderment shared by all when someone goes on a shooting rampage anywhere, let along a grade school. We’re left wondering why this happened and whether anything could have been done about it beforehand. We often ask what the killer was thinking. A better question in my opinion would be to ask what they were feeling.
I don’t know what Adam Lanza was thinking on that day, but I do know some things about what he was feeling. He apparently had enough hate for his mother to shoot her in the face and he apparently wanted everyone in the country to know that. Angry emotions and xenophobia can and do cause all sorts of violent and murderous behaviors. Here in the states white people used to bring their families to lynchings and the children would cheer for them. They were on average, sane. German officers in WWII put very large numbers of people in gas chambers. They were on average, sane. Angry and hateful maybe, but surely sane.

If people want to reduce violence of all kinds, including gun violence then they should start talking about fighting this xenophobic other-izing of people. Economic inequalities and intolerant tribalism cause more violence everyday but there’s less discussion of these root causes and more distraction. It certaintly can’t help by stigmatizing mental illness by using it as a scapegoat when these shootings happen.

“Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. You must be mentally ill.”

What are your thoughts on guns and mental illness??

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