There’s not going to be some long soliloquy from me about gun control today. I’ve had enough of having to think about justifications of why we need to limit access to high powered weapons. Columbine. Virginia Tech. Fort Hood. Aurora. Oak Creek. Sandy Hook. All have become bywords for mass-shootings in this country. And now we have shady circumstances on an individual from Texas – potentially with others – having entered the Washington Navy Yard to commit mass murder.
Forever we’ll hear the defense that guns don’t kill people, people kill people. And that guns are a defensive weapon and shouldn’t be regulated. Ignore the facts that guns certainly help in the process of killing people – much easier to kill with point and click than by bludgeoning – and that guns are specifically designed to cause harm. That’s their purpose.
We also have issues with mental health and dealing with mentally ill individuals in this country. It’s something that we have forever treated as taboo – they’re not mentally ill, we ignore them, shunt them away in the familial cupboards. We stigmatize the mentally ill and discourage through words or acts to get them to seek help. We have individuals who rail against psychology and psychiatry as not-real-doctors and demonize efforts to help people through medication. Granted, medication is not the only answer. It is one of many, including therapy and familial support.
Moreover, as we as individuals tend to become more and more insular, we lose the supports that would have helped us in times past, a close circle of friends that would watch out for you and make sure you took care of yourself or took care of you. And having that support system from either a group of friends or society at large was not condemned as being a drag on society, being a taker, et cetera. But that is where political discourse is. Anyone who isn’t working is a welfare queen, drug addict, slumming-in-the-hood thug. This is what has become our political discourse. Of course you don’t want to be seen as the person who supports the welfare queen, addict, thug supporter. Because who likes those? Of course, most people living on public assistance aren’t simply people mooching off of the system. But what does that matter? Why not make political hay out of the sick?
It’s perverse. And why am I even bringing this up? We don’t know whether or not the shooter was mentally ill. I bring it up because it has been a factor in discourse before – for however brief that moment was – and then disappeared as politicians moved on to arguing with each other as they did before, without accomplishing anything, and raising their warchests, thumping their chests and calling the others the enemy.
Can we all agree that we need to figure out a way to 1) treat the mentally ill and 2) keep people who are mentally ill from getting guns easily? Can we also agree that we need to recognize that guns are intrinsically part of the problem? When is the last time we had a mass stabbing? When multiple people’s lives were ended in short order by a bludgeoning? Ignoring the fact that guns are intractably part of the problem with quickly causing harm to a large group of people is to ignore reality.
We need to be talking with our big boy and big girl pants on. Obama isn’t going to go around taking your guns. And Joe the Plumber in all odds isn’t going to go all Deer Hunter on you. Contrary to what Michael Moore and Wayne LaPierre will tell you, there needs to be a civilized dialogue on the nature of guns in our society. The second amendment speaks of a well-regulated militia. Why regulate the militia if you’re not going to regulate the arms? There is a right to bear arms – I do not deny that – but who really needs to have a submachine gun? An assault rifle? Armor-piercing munitions? Unlimited ammo?
Let’s get serious, America. This sh- stuff has to stop.