by Wilfreda Kramer Reporter, Laurel Marcinkus Videographer & Sheila Schlitz Photographer
“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” – Nelson Mandela
University of Wisconsin Parkside sophomore, Yamini Kumar, shares her point of view regarding the relationship of gun laws and mental illness in the United States.
Two years ago, Kumar moved from Delhi, India, an area where attaining a gun is very difficult. Kumar states she will never own a gun, “I would rather die than have blood on my hands” said Kumar. She believes in alternative ways to resolve conflict, reveals her ideas on mentally ill gun owners and provides a solution to end gun violence.
“In the US you have a very good law enforcement system so your 911s are very effective,” said Kumar. Kumar compares the 30 to 45 minute police response time in Delhi to the much faster arriving US police force response.
Kumar states gun accessibility makes the use of them easier. If she owned a gun she would take it out to use and possibly kill someone without thinking. “I would never have a gun,” Kumar said. She points out she would rather carry a knife, make noise or try and talk to an assailant.
The accessibility of guns, in Kumar’s opinion, also results in higher likelihood of guns being in the wrong hands. Unstable individuals should not own a gun let alone a stable person according to Kumar. She says guns are made for military use, military should have them.
Kumar says all individuals have been given the right to own a gun regardless of mental state. If a person is given the right it should not be taken away until a reason to have the right taken away is presented. Kumar points out stable people can become unstable when triggered by stress.
Kumar suggested more intrinsic checks on people purchasing guns. Background checks should also include testimonies of people who are in contact with gun purchaser. The testimonies of purchaser should come from coworkers or people in the community who know purchaser. Kumar thinks if purchaser testimony checks are done randomly they will be even more effective.
In regards to gun violence Kumar accounts psychological factors to mass shootings. Kumar refers to Isis as an example of a religious group able to manipulate the psyche of a shooter. Kumar says recruiters of Isis find a key to a person’s psyche convincing them to join the group and enact shootings in the name of the group’s cause.
The key to preventing gun violence and mass shootings is education says Kumar (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ICrFk2AhGDQ). Psychological training for children starting at middle school age will help them understand the difference between religion and radical groups. Kumar thinks younger minds are more open to learning than minds of young adults in high school. A child will have perspective other than what is exposed to them at home and in their community.
Wrong interpretation of religion can lead to misunderstanding and make people feel shameful or resentful. Kumar thinks groups of people in culture and organizations can act on people’s fears to influence their behavior.
Education will help people develop views based on learning many views not only views exposed by their culture. Understanding how the human psyche works will help individuals be aware someone is trying to control them says Kumar.
Margaret Kendrigan, PH.D., is an Associate Lecturer of Criminal Justice at University of Wisconsin Parkside. She has a PhD in urban education and a minor in criminal justice.
“I was quite involved in the politics of the civil rights movement and the peace movement. I actually did a summer with Martin Luther King in Mississippi. I am pretty devoted to non-violence,” stated Kendrigan.
Even though she does not have personal experience with guns she has dealt with many people who have used guns. Kendrigan believes people become addicted to violence, it’s a lifestyle. She says we need trauma informed care and schools that address trauma with children to prevent gun violence.