Allen Malnak, M.D., Bonita Springs
There's no doubt mental illness and difficulty identifying such patients and effectively treating them play a role in our gun murder and gun suicide rates.
Whether violent movies and video games also play a role requires more study. The National Rifle Association has done its best to prevent proper studies of any factors which might throw light on this important subject.
It's of interest that the citizens of other advanced countries, which have few gun murders and suicides, also have a similar number of mentally ill people and are exposed to the same video games and movies as Americans. The major factor seems to be gun ownership, in which we lead every advanced country.
Perhaps we should look at the methods countries like Canada, United Kingdom and Japan use to regulate gun ownership to help us understand the difference.
The differences are striking. In 2011, the U.K. had 0.07 gun homicides per 100,000 people, while he USA had three for every 100,000.
You can easily learn how each advanced country has developed strict laws to limit the possession of the types of small arms that are present in enormous numbers all over our country. For example in Australia, "Following a 1996 shooting spree that left 35 Australians dead, the government launched a major overhaul of gun laws. The law banned all automatic and semi-automatic weapons and instituted strict licensing rules involving background checks and waiting periods for purchases."
Deaths due to guns, whether suicide, accidents or mass murders, are unacceptable. We must do better.