Oregon’s mass homicide sparked the usual debate about whether guns or mental health is the best focus in preventing atrocities. Given this stark frame, the centrality of gun policy is hard to deny. Compared with other wealthy democracies, America has surprisingly similar rates of car theft, aggravated assault, and other forms of nonlethal violence. Our gun homicide rate is about three times the average among our peers. Gun policy measures such as improved background checks included in the nearly-passed, bipartisan, post-Newtown Manchin-Toomey bill would certainly be helpful.
Many conservatives place greater emphasis on the mental health system. In some ways, this rhetoric is misplaced. The fraction of American violence attributable to severe mental illness is quite low, on the order of five percent. We must also avoid reinforcing cruel stereotypes regarding millions of Americans who live with major depression, bipolar disorders, or related conditions.
– The Washington Post