Newtown, Aurora, Columbia: violent shootings across the country have placed a national spotlight on the issue of gun control, a decades-old debate that pits our gun rights as codified in the Constitution against legislation that would limit our access to firearms and, theoretically, the likelihood of violent gun incidents.
Locally, statewide and nationally, gun violence has proven to be a highly emotional topic that dominates our national discourse. Proponents of more stringent gun regulations point out the relative ease at which firearms and ammunition, including so-called “assault-style” weapons, can be purchased.
But increasing gun control is not the answer to this problem. Laws that would inhibit or prevent gun ownership for millions of law-abiding American citizens would do little to curtail the illegal sale of firearms.
Add to this the fact that many perpetrators of gun violence would still have had access to guns even with more stringent laws, both here in Northeast Texas and nationally, and it is clear that more legislation will not reduce the amount of violent incidents.
While we can never completely stop these incidents from occurring, we can take steps at the local and state level to curtail their frequency.
In our own communities, we must take responsibility for our family members, neighbors and co-workers that exhibit signs of mental illness and point them toward help, including Local Mental Health Authorities (LMHA). A list of LMHA’s can be found on the Texas Department of State Health Services Mental Health and Substance Abuse Division.
Additionally, our state must commit more resources to enhance and maintain the mental health services that it provides to Texas residents. While Texas spends a considerable amount of money each year on mental health services, our state has ranked near the bottom in per-resident spending in the same category.
Texans on average value fiscal responsibility and small government. But city and county governments are ill-equipped to deal with mental illnesses and the cost associated with such care. Perhaps by destigmatizing treatment for mental illnesses, and increasing the availability and scope of treatment options, Texas can reduce the frequency of violent incidents.
This opinion reflects that of the Herald-Banner editorial board. The board can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.