Mental Health and Gun Control

I hope that we’re all coming down from the emotional drain that was last week’s horrible tragedy because we need to have a serious discussion about what is really causing this increase in mass killings.  What happened on Friday was horrible and we need to have a reasonable and rational discussion about how to prevent these tragedies from escalating.

I have seen people pose the question which is more important, your guns or your kids?  Well, I ask you this; which is more important to you, a couple extra dollars out of your check to ensure all Americans, including you and your family, have access to healthcare, including mental, or the life of your children?  Mental illness is no longer someone else’s problem, it’s everyone’s problem.  That is, if we don’t want to continue to see mass murders happen.

We also definitely need some common sense gun control, but realize, this won’t solve our mass murder problem.  If a crazy person wants to kill lots of people, they will find the tool they want to use to execute their plan.  But, reasonable and rational regulations can prevent ignorant, less responsible people, or some people planning on doing harm to large numbers of people from owning firearms, or being able to carry out their plan.  Here are a few ideas I have for gun regulations.

First, we need federal gun recall laws.  We have recall laws for everything from children’s toys to vehicles, but not a single recall law for guns or gun related products.  Gun manufacturers have had design flaws the led to accidental deaths.  The people involved were paid off and silenced.

Second, the federal government needs to track all gun and ammo sales.  They should make official inquires whenever large purchases are made.  I am even open to the idea of putting a cap on the amount of ammo one individual can purchase at one time or during a short period of time.  Since the ammo is being tracked, it is possible to deny ammo sales to an individual, no matter where they buy it.  The tracking should include gun shows and individual sales or inheritance.

Third, every first time gun owner should be required to take a class on gun safety, marksmanship and laws.  Everyone who owns a gun should be required to have a federal permit and take this class, along with a background check, which would also include a search of a mental health database.   This would ensure that everyone who owns a firearm has at least basic training in how to safely use it.

Fourth, we should ban the manufacture and sale of all ammo clips or cartridges that hold more than 10 rounds, unless they are for government use.  That would make the sale of every assault rifle illegal, but not necessarily put all of the companies who have sprung up who modify and make them now.  They would be hard at work making clips that only hold 10 rounds, since none of these guns currently come with clips that small.  In order to understand my logic, you must realize that the only difference with an assault rifle verses a pistol is the number of rounds in the magazine or cartridge.  Both of these weapons are meant for close range, but without a magazine capable of holding large numbers of rounds, assault rifles are effectively turned into big pistols.

Last, we need to gut the power of lobbying groups in all areas and levels of our government.  By doing this, we remove much of the power that business has over our government.  This will effectively diminish the power the NRA and other gun lobbyist groups have.

For the sake of argument, let’s pretend guns weren’t around.  Bombs are easy to make using ingredients that can be bought at a grocery store.  If you doubt me, I know for a fact that all it takes to make a pressure bomb is some tin foil, a glass container and a chemical that can be found in any home improvement or grocery.  Instead of being armed to the teeth, this disturbed young man could have just strapped a bomb to his chest and walked in the school.  Depending on the type of bomb he created, the death toll could have been much worse.

The problem is not the tool used, in this case, a gun.  The problem is our lack of mental health screenings and access to preventative healthcare for everyone.  Every single one of these horrible incidents would have been prevented with hands on, observant parents or mental health screenings.  Each one of these disturbed young men showed signs that they were mentally disturbed, but our system is so broken that no one noticed.

We were attacked on 9/11 and we had advanced notice of this attack, but we ignored the intelligence.  We created sweeping laws to ensure that this would not happen again.  We have had many mass killings by mentally disturbed young men, yet we have never once asked ourselves, how do we ensure that we don’t miss the signs before the next young man goes on a killing spree?

The answer to the question I posed above is mental health screenings.  These would be part of free general health screenings for everyone.  Along with ensuring anyone who has any type of violent tendencies or mental health issues gets the help and treatment they need.  By treating them, they are far less likely to use any number of deadly tools to commit mass murder.

The simple truth is that guns are ingrained in our culture.  We will never get rid of them, at least not without far more bloodshed or a civil war.  That doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t regulate them, in an attempt to lessen the death and injuries they cause.

These mass killings are a result of a broken society.  We are a society that almost worships violence.  We have become desensitized to it.  Now, for most of us, this is no big deal, but for a small number, this can give them the ideas they need to cause lots of damage and death.  We are a society of those who have it all and those who have almost nothing.   We are a society that shuns mental illness and denies there’s a problem.  We are a society where justice is based on the amount of money in ones wallet.   All of these things contribute to our ills.  If we cure the infection, the symptoms go away, without taking away freedom for the masses.

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Posted by on December 18, 2012. Filed under COMMENTARY/OPINION. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.
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13 Responses to Mental Health and Gun Control

  1. Bill Formby

    December 18, 2012 at 2:59 am

    Well done John. I will get my two cents worth in before Mr. Smith goes on his rant. I think you are pretty much dead on point in most every area. Where mental illness is concerned there are two primary issues; first, thanks to the conservative courts and the conservative economists mental health patients have largely been victimized by in the name of “mainstreaming.” That is code for getting people out of institutions and back into the community. While some may have applauded this they never thought about the consequences of families and communities that did not, or would not, take responsibility for these individuals. People still do not want to acknowledge that mental health is a major issue that has to be addressed by society; and, secondly, people need to understand that mental illness is not anything to be ashamed of and, for the most part, can be treated. If they, or a family member, has problems they need to seek help and not pretend it doesn’t exist. The more we shun the mentally ill and keep them in the shadows the less we will know about them and their problems.
    The other issue I would suggest is that we, as a society, need to work toward ending our culture of violence. I disagree that it is a small number of people who first thinks of violence to solve their problems. Too many parents still tell their children that fighting is OK instead of trying to resolve their problems nonviolently. Those who walk away from a fight are considered cowards. It is simply part of our DNA. Until we can curb that attitude we will always have a major problem with violent outburst and anger management problems. After the Aurora, CO shootings and the Newtown, CT shootings there were still those who were saying that had some good citizen there been armed they could have “taken out the shooter.” These idiots do not understand that the last thing we need is to start having shootouts in public places.
    I think you ideas on gun control are pretty sound John. Now if we can just get you elected. 🙂

    • bitcodavid

      December 18, 2012 at 8:14 am

      Agreed here, Bill and John on all points.

      My $0.02 8 bucks worth.

      The argument that some well armed guy could have taken out the Batman shooter is ludicrous, but it at least involves adults. In the case of Newtown, are we to assume that one of the 7 year-olds should have bent to the task? “Go ahead. Make my day – After I gun you with my Desert Eagle, I can have my milk and cookies.”

      Chris Rock came up with the best gun control plan I ever heard. Leave the guns alone, and start charging 200 bucks for each bullet. Believe me – a long term independent contractor – if people had to pay for this shit, there’d be no homicide at all. “Hmmm. Dear? If we cut off the cable and stopped driving the Hummer for 2 months, we could afford to shoot the neighbor.”

      • Michael John Scott

        December 18, 2012 at 10:21 am

        David it’s true about the ammunition. We need to starve the guns by regulating ammunition, and a premium price is a good way to start.

        • bitcodavid

          December 18, 2012 at 11:24 am

          Well, it’s a joke – at least in its present form. If you’ve never seen the bit, it is hilarious.

          (It’s Chris Rock, so you might wanna make sure the kids are out of the room.)

      • John Calchera

        December 18, 2012 at 12:25 pm

        People make their own ammunition all the time. I actually have no issue with an increased tax on all guns and gun related items, including ammo. These funds can be given to victims of gun violence. If we make ammunition too expensive, we will just create a giant black market, where it will be cheaper to buy, than the regulated market.

        • lincoln82

          December 19, 2012 at 10:50 am

          You make a good point here John.

  2. EllenBeth Wachs

    December 18, 2012 at 8:40 am

    “We are a society that almost worships violence.”

    Almost? I would say that we absolutely worship violence. Take one gander at the movies and the video games that are top sellers.

    • Michael John Scott

      December 18, 2012 at 10:20 am

      I think we’ve been that way for a long time EllenBeth. I remember when parents were complaining about the violence in Saturday morning cartoons.

      • bitcodavid

        December 18, 2012 at 11:14 am

        Ahhh, yes. Those were the days. When anvils fell from the sky and a company called Acme sold jet packs and rocket sleds.

    • John Calchera

      December 18, 2012 at 12:26 pm

      I agree that we do 100%. I was trying to cater to both ways of thinking. Yes, we had violent cartoons back in the day, but even the violence in our video games was nothing compared to the first person shooting games we have today.

      • Bill Formby

        December 18, 2012 at 1:56 pm

        Actually, I think it is less about the violence in the media and/or video games. Our culture and worship of violence was around long before movies, television, and video games. People in the East love the stories about the gunslingers and the U.S. Army vs. The “Indians” in the 1800’s. Folks like Jesse James, Billy the Kid, and Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid were legends and heroes in those days. Still are in many places. It seems that this country was built on violent tendencies and too many people still romanticize the violent days of the past.

    • Jess

      December 19, 2012 at 4:34 pm

      Other countries have that same fascination with Call of Duty type games, or violent movies and there is not half the violence in those countries. How do we explain that away, without bringing in the guns we have in our society.

  3. David M Myles

    December 22, 2012 at 2:24 pm

    Here is a path to stopping gun violence.

    Ammunition must be stored in a licensed Gun range. It is already illegal to fire your weapon withing shouting distance of a home. When at the range you may fire as many rounds as you wish. Hunting licenses will also issue an ammo permit for your hunting weapon.

    There will be no more stockpiling of ammunition out side of licensed storage facilities.

    You may load your own shells, equipment, primer, and powder will be issued after a rigorous background check and standard military psych test.

    You may not posses more than one full clip of ammunition in your home or on your person, for self defense. May your god have mercy on the family member you are more likely to kill than an intruder.

    Liability insurance is required if you have more than ten rounds of ammunition, multiple assault style weapons, or a carry permit. As the constitution guarantees the right own arms, nothing is mentioned about modern explosive ammunition.

    Criminal and civil penalties for those who fail to provide proof of insurance.

    Localities are encouraged to pass these laws for municipalities and counties.

    I understand that most gun owners live in the murky scary world of criminals, rapists, and commies and our own government… and I pity them the utter terror in which they walk through the world, but I am tired of innocents dying to maintain their false sense of security. Aren’t you?

    The real problem is for your average quaking gun owner, hiding in his military style bunker oiling and stroking his rifles with a soft velvet hand, their fear of attack and violence, and obsession with the fact that they have no reason or balls with which to face the world, is killing our children, their women women, and ultimately themselves.

    America – where the right to peaceably assemble is infringed on and negated, our right to carry weapons of mass destruction is sacrosanct…

    Asking a nation to be bound by a set of laws written when it was young, is like requiring a grown man to wear a childs coat.