With the media and public’s focus on Jared Loughner’s mental state, there has been an interest in the link between violent crimes and mental health.
The Tucson shooting has put many on edge and heightened fears, especially among Arizonans. It doesn’t help that multiple gun bills have been proposed around the same time as the shooting, including bills that would allow students and faculty to carry guns on a university campus.
Although some laws are attempting to give more freedom to use guns, there are also more restrictive laws to prevent certain people with mental disorders from purchasing guns in some states because of fear of violent crimes. In some cases this is necessary, but at the same time, one has to wonder where the line is drawn. For example, would someone with depression or anxiety not be allowed to buy a gun, or is it only people with schizophrenia, borderline personality disorder and “severe” cases of mental illness? In many states these laws haven’t been set or enforced, which some argue could contribute to these tragic events involving guns. A USA Today/ Gallup poll on what or who should be blamed for the Tucson shooting found that “55 percent of respondents said they placed a 'great deal' of blame on mental health system failures; 43 percent said they placed a 'great deal' of blame on easy access to guns.”
At the college level there is also concern. The New York Times ran an article recently about the limits of colleges when dealing with students who have severe mental illness. It seems that at least some colleges are limited, at least in their thinking. Many officials think it’s enough to tell students where they can go if they have psychological issues, but what they don’t understand is how difficult seeking help can be with a mental disorder, especially after a person is already turned away and referred somewhere else. There is no follow-up with the student in many cases, and there is a lack of care and responsibility toward those students, yet surprise when tragic events like suicide and mass shootings happen.