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Perspective: The simple math of gun control

Every time there’s a mass shooting — over 260 so far in 2023 -- some pundits blame our "gun problem" on mental illness. So I looked up the countries with the highest rates of mental illness. The World Health Organization, using the criteria of depression, found that Greece, Spain, and Portugal top the list. America doesn’t even crack the Top 10. Interestingly, these three countries also have very low rates of gun deaths. In fact, Spain had 70 firearm deaths in 2022, while the United States had over 13,000.

Mental health crises exist across our planet, often at a greater rate than in America. Also important to note—the American Psychological Association finds that fewer than 1 in 5 crimes are committed by those who struggle with mental illness. Yoking gun violence to mental health issues is both inaccurate and stigmatizing.

Our real problem? Access....especially the proliferation of assault weapons. Right now, there are over 120 firearms per 100 Americans. There are estimated to be over 400 million guns in the U.S., 20 million of them assault weapons. It's simple math. Regrettably, lobbyists put millions of dollars into the pockets of politicians who only offer "thoughts and prayers." That's simple math, too.

Gun violence now leads to more children’s deaths than any other cause. No wonder the AMA considers firearm-related violence a public health crisis. The next time you head to the polls, consider that there are politicians who, presented with clear evidence, value their careers over the lives of children. And that’s simple math.

Lori Drummond-Cherniwchan is a teacher-librarian at Auburn High School in Rockford.