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More gun laws can make a difference

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A few weeks ago, between the gun massacre at the community college in Oregon and the “Planned Parenthood” mass murder, the publisher of this paper wrote a column titled More Gun Control Not Answer To School Shootings. “More gun laws won’t change the mental health of these [shooters],” she said. “Legislators should stop bickering about whether or not I have the right to carry a handgun, shotgun or rifle (which I absolutely do), and begin to vigorously attack the issue at its core by providing additional and better resources for mental health diagnosis and treatment…”  

The mental health canard is one of many falsehoods trotted out by the right wing after each mass shooting in an attempt to explain why we need less, not more gun regulation. Here are some others. 

“Guns don’t kill people. People kill people.” Stop it. Please. It’s a slogan that didn’t make any sense when it first appeared on car bumpers decades ago. People who have greater access to guns kill more people. Those states that have high rates of gun ownership have higher rates of gun homicides. In other words, people with guns kill people.

More good guys with guns? Gimme a break. Do you know how many mass “murders-by-gun” have been thwarted by other people with guns? Zero. But don’t take my word for it. Ask any experienced police officer if he or she thinks this is a good idea.

“We now have a generation that was raised on video games.” Nope. Japan spends $55 per capita on video games; we spend $44. The United States has 88 civilian firearms per 100 people; Japan has 0.6. We have 11,000 gun homicides per year — they have six. 

We need more firearms so we might be able to overthrow tyrants like President Blackenstein with a cache of assault rifles? Seriously? Does “bunker-busting smart bomb” mean anything to you?

But I digress—let’s get back to the mental health yarn. A 15-year study published in the American Psychiatric Journal Law and Human Behavior in April of 2014 found that of crimes committed by people with serious mental disorders, only 7.5 percent were directly related to symptoms of mental illness. The lead researcher of the study said: “When we hear about crimes committed by people with mental illness, they tend to be big headline-making crimes so they get stuck in people’s heads....  “The vast majority of people with mental illness are not violent, not criminal and not dangerous.”  

By way of illustration, do you recall that really weird kid in your high school class? And that no matter how hard you tried—because you remembered what your mother instilled in you about kindness and what Jesus taught about welcoming the stranger—the kid would just never change the channel inside his head? There are countless human beings like this—not mentally ill, just kinda different.

So, please, define for me the line that must be crossed— a subscription to Guns & Ammo or an arrest or two for disorderly conduct—before we invoke some limited surveillance of a person we suspect might be, as they say, a few bricks shy of a load? Isolation? Incarceration? 

Do you really think that our libertarian Senator Rand Paul would sit still while we require the police or social services to “observe a bit more closely” some young man or woman because he or she took Prozac for a few months? 

Now for the biggest myth of all. In spite of the rant of our Tea Party Congressman that appeared in the Jan. 13 edition of this paper, our founders adopted the Second Amendment to our Constitution solely for the purpose of limiting the federal government’s power to regulate state militias. Here’s the first clue: It begins, to wit: “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State…” Until the present make-up of our Supreme Court, the Second Amendment was never, ever, about an individual person’s right to have, own, carry, possess, transport, touch, stare at, or think about—a gun. Period. 

“[The Second Amendment] has been the subject of one of the greatest pieces of fraud, I repeat the word ‘fraud,’ on the American public by special interest groups that I have ever seen in my lifetime,” said Former Chief Justice Warren Burger, a lifelong Republican.

No, Madame Publisher, you are wrong—particularly about the “which I absolutely do” part—and I write this to encourage much more bickering among our elected representatives. If you believe you have the absolute right to a rifle or shotgun, might I go out and buy a howitzer? A Sherman tank? A nuclear weapon?

 

After each mass shooting, those who oppose gun control never fail to point out that no law can stop all shootings. True enough. But reasonable laws can make a difference. Meanwhile, my congressman gives a leg up to potential killers by making sure that “liberty” prevails in the marketplace for dangerous weapons.