It’s become the new go-to line for Republicans whenever some sort of tragedy involving guns takes place: blame mental illness. Often before we even know any actual details about the shooter, Republicans are already plastered on every major news outlet proclaiming their support for our Second Amendment and blaming all gun violence on the mentally ill.
The problem is, as usual, they’re wrong.
Of course we should acknowledge that mental illness does play a part in some gun violence, but to claim that the ridiculously easy access to guns we have in this country has nothing to do with our rampant gun violence is absurd. Guns undoubtedly empower people to do things they otherwise probably wouldn’t do. Take for instance this Iowa man back in June who left work specifically to get his gun so he could kill a woman who had accused him of sexual harassment. Clearly his access to a gun is what empowered him to feel he could commit this heinous act – and similar scenarios play out all around the country every day.
Besides, as John Oliver pointed out on Sunday night’s Last Week Tonight, the vast majority of gun-related violence isn’t committed by the mentally ill. Not only that, but stats show that mentally ill people are much more likely to be the victims of gun violence rather than the perpetrators.
But the main focus of Oliver’s segment centered around how this country mostly ignores adequately helping the mentally ill. Then when some gun-related tragedy takes place, Republicans bring out the go-to talking point of how “we need to address mental illness” while knowing damn well they have no intention of doing anything positive to address mental illness.
“Perhaps the clearest sign of how little we want to talk about mental health is that one of the only times it’s brought up is, as we’ve seen yet again this week, in the aftermath of a mass shooting, as a means of steering the conversation away from gun control,” Oliver said. “It seems there is nothing like a mass shooting to suddenly spark political interest in mental health.”
Oliver even pointed out that during Mike Huckabee’s time as governor of Arkansas (one of the GOP presidential candidates who often blames mental illness for gun violence), his state received a D- rating on dealing with mental health issues. I’ve pointed this out previously; while Republicans are quick to cite mental illness when it comes to gun violence, they’re doing absolutely nothing to help the mentally ill.
“If we’re going to constantly use mentally ill people to dodge conversations about gun control,” Oliver stated, “then the very least we owe them is a f*cking plan.”
But the bottom line is, this whole “mental illness is to blame for gun violence” argument is b.s. anyway. Despite the fact that Republicans are big fans of blaming the mentally ill, they’re not doing a single thing to prevent mentally unstable people from being able to obtain guns or to help mentally ill people get the help they need. If anything, their policies are making it easier for people who shouldn’t have guns to get them while making life more difficult for the mentally ill in general.
Watch the segment below via HBO: