Gun Control Debate 2013: Who's More Dangerous, Kim Jong-un Or Mitch McConnell?

In his article "Mad Men," analyst David Rothkopf argues that the risks faced by Americans are created within the U.S. itself as opposed to international forces. He further explains this by comparing the threats posed by North Korea’s Kim Jong-un to that of Mitch McConnell, the Senate Minority Leader from Kentucky. While Kim Jong Un may have declared nuclear war on the United States, the chances of him actually using a weapon of mass destruction against the United States are slim considering the consequences such an action would have on the future of North Korea. Such a statement indicates that Rothkopf does not consider Kim Jong-un a major threat to the lives of Americans. Instead, he claims that a specific member of the American government, Mitch McConnell, is responsible for the danger Americans are in due to his refusal to tighten the country’s gun policies.

Sandy Hook. Columbine. Aurora. Virginia Tech. It is not necessary to add on to this list in order to emphasize the fact that a soaring number of shooting massacres have occurred over the past two decades. In fact, Rothkopf reports that within the next two years, "the number of people who have died in gun violence in the United States since 2000 will surpass the number of Americans who died in World War II." Such facts are very frightening for a country that prides itself in protecting its citizens from harm. They also indicate the urgency for America to stand up and demand an increase in safety measures. 

And Rothkopf is not the first to notice this. In a speech made in response to the Sandy Hook shooting, President Obama claimed that the government has not been successful in providing a safe America for children to grow up in. He promised to do his best to "prevent more tragedies like this" by demanding talks amongst government members in order to create stricter gun laws and screening policies.

Furthering this, President Obama also explained that the reasons behind the safety problem the United States is facing cannot simply be narrowed down to one factor. In his speech he stated that "We will be told that the causes of such violence will be complex and that is true. No single law, no set of laws can eliminate evil from the world or prevent every senseless act of violence in our society." He then went on to add, "But that can’t be an excuse for inaction. Surely we can do better than this." Overall, such statements suggest that while the leniency of America's current gun laws may contribute to the surge of violence in the country and the tightening of such laws may help prevent future massacres, the situation is more complicated than this and requires further attention in other areas.

In other words, yes, Rothkopf is right in that Americans are at serious risk of becoming victims of gun violence. However, he is wrong in assuming that the refusal to create stricter gun policies is the ultimate factor behind the safety concern.

It is time for America to face the bigger issue at hand, the reason why these horrific acts are committed in the first place: the mental health of its citizens. Studies show that a minimum of 38 out of the 61 shooters in these tragedies during the past 30 years "displayed signs of mental health problems prior to the killings." Such high numbers indicate the urgency behind this problem and the need for the government and civil society to come together and figure out a way to ensure that everyone is receiving the psychological help that they need. Simply increasing gun laws will only encourage shooters to choose other weapons to cause harm or work harder to get their hands on a gun. In order for America to truly receive security, it first needs to address the dilemma regarding the mental health of its citizens.