Is there really an argument here?

Gov’t Report on Mass Shootings: Violent Media, Mental Health, Access to Guns All Play Role, CNS News, February 13, 2013

A valuable article that unfortunately tries to foment conflict about a report from the National Science Foundation as though there is some major disagreement, even though I don’t think there needs to be.

The report of the NSF states that a number of factors play roles in guns rampages in this country. The factors are your “usual suspects,” namely access to guns, diminished access to mental health services, and easy access to violent media.

An image from Activision's Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 video game.

An image from Activision’s Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 video game.

But the article sets this up as a polemic between left and right politically. Since Pres. Obama only mentioned the need for gun control laws in his recent State of the Union address, a Republican congressman takes aim at the President. “How can he in good conscience,” the Congressman says, “call for that (gun control legislation), but not acknowledge the fact that each of the shooters in those events was mentally disturbed?” An astonishing statement from my perspective, since right wing politicians have never been interested in funding mental health treatment, only those on the left politically.

But regardless, the report by the NSF does make points that I have been attempting to make on my website, and my Psych Today columns (see my article on the Aurora shootings and more recently those on the Newtown murders) for some time: these acts of mass murder occur in a complex context in which easy access both to weapons and to violent media play central roles in a severely disturbed individual being primed and able to commit mass murders.

As any serious student of history and systems theory can tell you, one must impact on more than one of these factors concurrently in order to see a serious change in this chain of events.