Days after Chris Harper-Mercer shot and killed nine people at Umpqua Community College, sparking yet another national debate about gun control, the shooter’s father railed against weak gun laws in the U.S.
“It has to change. How can it not? Even people that believe in the right to bear arms, what right do you have to take people’s lives? That’s what guns are, the killers,” Ian Mercer told CNN on Saturday. “Simple as that. Simple as that. It’s black and white. What do you want a gun for?”
Mercer also slammed lawmakers’ inability to make progress on gun reform, even though these shootings happen with such frequency.
“We talk about gun laws. We talk about gun control. Every time something like this happens, they talk about it and nothing gets done. I’m not trying to say that that’s to blame for what happened, but if Chris had not been able to get hold of 13 guns, this wouldn’t have happened,” Mercer continued. Pointing to the lack of mass shootings in other parts of the world, he said the question that needs answering is: “How is it so easy to get all these guns?”
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Even though guns are the common denominator in mass shootings, gun rights advocates point to mental health issues as the cause for each massacre. In response to Thursday’s shooting, presidential candidate Donald Trump said, “guns, no guns, doesn’t matter. You have people that are mentally ill and they’re going to come through the cracks and they’re going to do things that people will not even believe are possible.”
Mental health has become a scapegoat, although research shows that people with mental illness are not predisposed to aggressive, violent behavior. People with mental illness commit only 3 to 5 percent of crimes, and are actually targeted more than others. For most Americans, there are fewer barriers to acquiring a gun than there are to accessing mental health resources.
Since Thursday’s shooting, many have speculated about Harper-Mercer’s mental health status. Law enforcement has revealed that the killer had a history of mental illness, and are trying to determine whether or not that played a factor in the killings.