The Phi Kappa Literary Society is a debate society at the University of Georgia. We meet every academic Thursday at Phi Kappa Hall on North Campus at 7 p.m.

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Debate January 10, 2013 - BIHR: Mental healthcare is of greater importance than gun control in preventing mass shootings in the U.S.

Our first debate this semester will be held Thursday January 10, 2013. Brother Mattew Tyler will be presenting the resolution BIHR: Mental healthcare is of greater importance than gun control in preventing mass shootings in the U.S.

If mass shootings can be curtailed more cheaply by providing mental health care to a range of people relative to the cost of implementing strict enough gun control to meet the same reduction in mass shootings, then one would vote in the affirmative. Thus, just because we find the provision of mental healthcare to be “good” for other reasons, this debate will strictly focus on mental healthcare’s impact on mass shootings. That being said, the fact that mental health coverage does have positive externalities outside of preventing violence could be used as a tangential argument—it just shouldn’t be the main topic of debate. Similarly, in order for gun control to be effective, it must be enforced. If there is no constitutional way to effectively enforce a “gun free school zone,” or it would require the employment of an extra police officer for every school in the nation (at a cost of tens, if not hundreds, of millions of dollars) to prevent one mass shooting every ten years, it may not be worth the public investment.

The definitions are as follows:


By “mental healthcare,” I mean the provision of medical services and products related to mental health (talk therapy, psychiatry, psychoactive drugs, etc.) and the ease with which someone may receive these service; “ease” includes stigmas associated with receiving various forms of psychological and psychiatric treatment.

By “is of greater importance,” I mean that is would be more effective and, perhaps more importantly, it would be more efficient. 

By “gun control,” I mean the creation and implementation of policy that would reduce the number of guns possessed by citizens or would make it more onerous to possess or purchase a gun of any type. Practicality should also come into play; if a law is too strict to stand scrutiny on the grounds of the 2nd amendment and would probably be struck down by the Supreme Court (or a lower federal court), then it would be an ineffective piece of gun control legislation. This certainly leaves a lot of room for interpretation, but I merely expect this to be a delineator between an assault rifles ban and taking away handguns from every single person in the U.S.

By “preventing,” I mean proactively stopping. Evidence for this could be supported by historical examples, although it is important to note that most major shooting events are anomalies, and causal inference is most tenuous when based on aberrant events.

By “mass shooting,” I mean an event in which someone illegally shoots numerous people with any type of gun, not in self-defense, regardless of whether or not the victims die. I am not going to place a specific number of shots, people, deaths, etc. on this. Rather, I will use the Supreme Court’s obscenity threshold test established in Jacobellis v. Ohio (1964): “I know it when I see it.” Use your reasonable discretion.

By “in the U.S.” I mean in any of the 50 states or U.S. territories’ that fall under the jurisdiction of U.S. law



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