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Utahns divided on root of mass shootings: mental illness or need for gun reform

Posted at 9:52 PM, Jul 06, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-06 23:52:05-04

SALT LAKE CITY — Mental health issues are the root of gun violence in America, according to many Utahns.

“Suicide, and when we look at it from a mental health perspective, is at least two thirds, if not more, especially more in Utah, of the gun deaths," said Clark Aposhian, Chairman of the Utah Shooting Sports Council.

However, others believe the lack of gun control is the cause of mass shootings.

“Europe has the same mental health issues that we do," said Natalie Reese, Organizer for March for Our Lives Utah. "It's not like we have more mental health in America. I think every country has probably the same distribution and mental health issues, but they don't have nearly the amount of gun violence that we do."

43 percent of Utahns think mental health treatment challenges is the principal cause of mass shootings, 27 percent believe it’s poor gun control laws, 11 percent believe it’s inadequate security at schools and public spaces and 18 percent believe it’s something else, according to a recent poll by Deseret News and the Hinckley Institute.

More gun control would not have prevented the Highland Park Illinois shooting, said Aposhian.

“They already had an assault weapon ban," he said. "They had red flag laws, they had universal background checks. These, either one, weren't effective or two, weren't enforced.”

Those carrying out these tragedies are not mentally ill; they are angry and hateful, said Angela Romero, Utah State representative for District 26.

“We as a society have created these individuals," she said. "And until we really look at systems and how they work and how they pit people against each other and look at historical trauma and the foundation of our country, we're going to continue to see these individuals take out their anger and their hate our marginalized communities.”

Making it more difficult for these people to access guns would be a step in the right direction for lawmakers, she said.