Last week, the nation was in shock when news came out of El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio depicting the terrible mass shootings that took place in those cities.

Nothing is more heart wrenching than watching the news and thinking about the families that were torn apart by senseless acts of violence.

Predictably, politicians took to Twitter and the 24-hour news networks immediately to place the blame squarely on the current administration. I feel this is beyond unfair, because the gun and violence problem in this country didn't just appear when President Trump was elected, nor do they only happen when conservatives are in office.

Since the end of World War II, there have been twenty-seven mass shootings (ten or more fatalities) in the United States. We as a nation are far and away the home to the most mass shootings in the world.

Politics do play a role in all of this, but it shouldn't be the only focus when trying to fix the problems facing the nation. I honestly feel to begin the process of curbing these types of killings, we as a nation have to face two elephants in the room, gun ownership and mental health.

In the aftermath of the past two shootings, the focus has been squarely on gun control because that is the Democrat rallying point in attacking the Trump administration and yes, we should be having these discussions.

I, for one, am a legal gun owner and under the present West Virginia Constitutional Carry Laws, I carry a handgun whenever I leave the house. I personally am not against gun ownership, but I think we need to focus on what types of firearms should be able to be owned by private citizens in this country.

The big issue that is going overlooked and is not talked about at all by the talking heads in the media is mental health.

We are still terrified as a country to discuss and treat mental health correctly, all of these killers had a psychotic break, it doesn't make what they did excusable, but maybe some of these killings could have been avoided with proper treatment.

People with mental health issues are even more behind the eight ball in our world today because of the twenty-four-hour news cycle and social media; these people can live in a giant echo chamber that does nothing but feeds their hate because they can choose the people they follow online, the sites they visit, etc. This constant echo chamber of hatred feeds into their mental instability.

We must do better as a nation, gun ownership, and mental health discussions should be a bi-partisan issue, but I have little faith it will be, outrage and anger sway voters and both sides will continue to use partisan hatred for their own gain.

Matthew A. Perry is a history teacher at C-K Middle and writes about the odd side of history at


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