Guns and Mental Illness…too easy…

Shootings in this country have increased incrementally since 1965. No one disputes the facts.  There is a conglomerate of factors involved that renders securing a legitimate solution difficult. The media focuses on two of the factors each time there is another incident. Today, as in the previous shootings, the response by the media is guns and mental illness.  It will be the mantra for a couple more weeks and the heated rhetoric will fade away and life will return to status quo without any significant change to the structure nor the outcomes.  

Rarely in these incidents is the true motive of the shooter revealed to the public.  I hope behind the scenes authorities are truly investigating each occurrence, desiring to secure a reason for the choice to kill.  But seldom are the results  communicated to the public for discussion and insight.   Instead, we hear the repetitive screeching for gun control and mental illness intervention. Little if any enlightenment from the media as to cause and motives.  

It is no doubt a complicated issue with many related factors.  But why are only two emphasized?  Could it be that significant change requires a recognition that while the issue is complicated, focusing on the core reasons requires hard work, acknowledging truth, and a whole lot of time or those in charge don’t like the answers. It is just easier to make quick easy claims and then move on.  It doesn’t require much work and more it avoids confronting the truth.

“Look at just one of the factors that is ignored by the media. Who are the perpetrators?  The media is determined to place the blame on the guns and mental illness.  This is so much deeper.  Since 1979 seven in ten school shootings have been carried out by people under age 18 predominantly boys and young men.” (Washington Post, May 25, 2022) 

“Two thirds of 200 shootings since Columbine were by boys under age 18.  26% of mass public shooters between 1976 and 2018 were younger than 25.

Between 1970 and 2020 175 school shootings were perpetrated by 17 year old boys, and 163 were committed by 16 year old boys.

Data show that regardless of how one defines mass shooting, perpetrators are likely to be men.” (Gun Policy in America: 

The Rand research continues. “The rare nature of mass shootings create challenges for accurately identifying salient predictors of risk and limits statistical power for detecting which policies may be effective in reducing mass shooting incidents.”

In other words there aren’t enough of these mass school shootings  0.5% to be able to determine what the motives are to provide solutions.

Over the Memorial Weekend there were 47 shootings in Chicago with 9 fatalities.  As of May 28, 2022 there have been 228 people slain in Chicago alone.  Does that qualify as a mass shooting?  If the numbers of dead are the issue to draw attention, is there enough information from the individual shootings to make up for the lack of information from the mass shootings that could provide answers? Is there anything in Chicago in common with the shootings in Buffalo and Texas?  Well, 178 of the victims in Chicago just this year were murdered by young men with guns. All of the 178 were young men murdered by young men.  That appears to be consistent with the rare mass shooting perpetrators, young men. There is a common thread but not an answer as to the why of these killings.

There is an article in Politico this week that I recommend reading.  The article asks this very question:

POLITICO: Are you saying there’s a link between the Buffalo and Uvalde shootings?

Peterson: We don’t know for sure at this point, but our research would say that it’s likely. You had an 18-year-old commit a horrific mass shooting. His name is everywhere and we all spend days talking about “replacement theory.” That shooter was able to get our attention. So, if you have another 18-year-old who is on the edge and watching everything, that could be enough to embolden him to follow. We have seen this happen before. 

So, if there is common ground in this case is there also common ground between Chicago and Texas?

POLITICO: Can you take us through the profile of mass shooters that emerged from your research?

Peterson: There’s this really consistent pathway. Early childhood trauma seems to be the foundation, whether violence in the home, sexual assault, parental suicides, extreme bullying. Then you see the build toward hopelessness, despair, isolation, self-loathing, oftentimes rejection from peers. That turns into a really identifiable crisis point where they’re acting differently. Sometimes they have previous suicide attempts.

What’s different from traditional suicide is that the self-hate turns against a group. They start asking themselves, “Whose fault is this?” Is it a racial group or women or a religious group, or is it my classmates? The hate turns outward. There’s also this quest for fame and notoriety.

The authors of this research do not mention mental illness as a root cause.  They don’t cite guns as the cause for boys chosen behavior.  Again, instead they reported: 

Peterson: There’s this really consistent pathway. Early childhood trauma seems to be the foundation, whether violence in the home, sexual assault, parental suicides, extreme bullying. Then you see the build toward hopelessness, despair, isolation, self-loathing, oftentimes rejection from peers. That turns into a really identifiable crisis point where they’re acting differently. 

It appears clear that the common ground is not mental illness or guns in the wrong hands.  The common ground is the destruction and dysfunction of the nuclear family model.  If you break apart a family, you get angry children.  If you break apart thousands of families you get an angry culture.  It is clear that the majority of the angry children are young boys.. Because of mental illness?  No, because the model for goodness and truth does not exist in the nurturing years of life. Hence, thousands of 17-19 years old boys take their anger to the streets. Some of them shoot people.

The media and leftist America will not acknowledge nor communicate the most glaring factor in this debate.  These shootings are the consequence of  sin.  Sin is the core issue.  These young men are committing evil acts.  When the firewall of family especially fathers is eliminated, the anger in young men surfaces and evil deeds are the result.  Every man’s heart is deceitful and desperately wicked at its core.  In this fallen world, the family structure is the bulwark against evil.  Remove the family, evil fills the vacuum.

There is a solution to this.  Restore the nuclear family as designed by the living God.  This God is truth, love, compassion, life, joy, peace and so much more.   This God, embodied in Jesus Christ is the solution. It requires men and women to surrender their hearts to the truth.  Jesus said, “I am the way the truth and the life.”  

The media and the left will never acknowledge the battle that goes on for the souls of all men.  That behind this is a spiritual power that is at war with the truth of God.  Deny it, ridicule it, mock it… doesn’t matter.  The solution is always right there and it will not go away.  The pathway requires generations of time and commitment.  The enemy has gained the upper hand in this present age.  Governments will never provide a solution.  Satan is directing this. It is going to get worse.  But the good news always is that the solution to defeating evil is in the hands of the wounded Savior.  Hope rests Him.

About Bill Harbeck

Founder and Director of Holding on to Hope Ministries. A non-profit work that helps survivors of childhood sexual abuse unveil their past and begin the healing process. Author of the book Shattered; One Man's Journey from Childhood Sexual Abuse
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