Op-ed: On the fatal shooting in Uvalde, Texas
The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) of Santa Clara County is deeply saddened by the horrific and senseless shooting at a school in Uvalde, Texas. This tragedy affects everyone in our country and impacts the mental health of our entire nation.
No state, county or city seems to be safe unless everyone is looking over their shoulders. Our own county has experienced this traumatic pain twice: a mass shooting at the Gilroy Garlic Festival in 2019 and the Santa Clara County VTA light rail station a year ago. Fourteen people died and 17 were injured during these events. More recently, mass shootings at a grocery store in Buffalo, New York and a church in Laguna Woods, California have added to those numbers.
In California alone, a person is killed by a firearm on average every three hours, according to the Giffords Law Center. That equates to eight people a day, without mass shootings. Our state has more than 3,100 gun deaths a year from homicides and suicides.
Yet nothing changes. The debate over the right to bear arms without control over how those weapons are used continues to fall on deaf ears. AR-15 rifles, the most popular firearm purchased in the country, are the same as those used by the 18-year-old shooter in Uvalde. Bought just after he turned 18.
Shortly after this tragedy, in the same sentence with these murders came the whispers and statements that it must be a mental illness.
Mental illness is not the problem. This link only adds to the stigma and discrimination of mental illness. In fact, people with mental illness are more likely to be victims of crime than people who commit the crime. Linking gun violence to mental illness criminalizes people with brain disorders.
The real problem is gun violence, which in the United States has been declared a public health crisis by various organizations, including the American Medical Association.
We urge our legislators to take a common sense approach and pass meaningful gun legislation to end this senseless pain and suffering.
No child should be afraid to go to school. No adult should worry about buying groceries, and no family should feel apprehensive when entering a place of worship. We must come together as a nation and solve this problem. Too many lives have been needlessly lost.
Rovina Kimbalkar is Executive Director of NAMI Santa Clara County. Uday Kapoor is Chairman of the NAMI Santa Clara County Board of Directors.