Gun Ownership, Mass Murder and Mental Illness

It didn’t take but minutes for extremists on both sides of the issue to come worming out of the woodwork within minutes of the news breaking about the mass murders in Newtown, Connecticut last year. As we all should know by now, extremism of any kind rarely, if ever, results in any solutions being presented.

The tragedy in Connecticut last year that resulted in the murder of twenty small children and six adults exhibits the existence of flaws in our system. Personally, I support the second amendment and the the right to own firearms. I’ve spoken out about this many times in my articles, my books and in videos I’ve produced.

However, there can be no doubt that when we are subjected as a nation to the terrible reality of the Sandy Creek murders, and all the others since then and prior to, that there are serious problems that need to be addressed. Some regulation regarding types of firearms and related issues is not only constitutional, but obviously warranted. The issues that should be addressed are complicated, the most obvious would be a renewed discussion on the assault weapons ban. Another would be the ease of which illegal firearm modifiers can be purchased. To be sure, there must be a solution from this perspective that can be found agreeable to the majority.

With That Said…

Most importantly, though, in my opinion, is the inadequacy within our society for trained professionals to identify AND sequester for treatment those who exhibit sociopathic and psychotic behavior that could lead to situations that result in the death and injury to others. As the issue of identifying those who are mentally ill as potential mass murderers cannot be ignored, I am just at a loss of how to accomplish this. There are some states that allow for an individual to be involuntarily committed to psychiatric care when another person reports them. In Florida, it’s called the “Baker Act.” Other states have similar laws.

However, this can be problematic because it involves where the line is drawn with respect to a persons right to live unmolested because they are eccentric, and being taken into custody for being mentally unstable enough to warrant being pegged as a threat to society. The news reports that describe the shooter may seem to some like an obvious descriptor of someone who is mentally ill, and to others describes your average shy high school geek/nerd.

One report described the shooter as being odd, that he carried a black briefcase and spoke very little. That he favored khakis and a shirt buttoned up to the neck, with pens lined up in his shirt pocket. That he hated being called on by teachers, was reluctant to respond to them and that he avoided public attention, had few friends and liked to sit near the classroom door and was one of the first out when the bell rang. In retrospect and considering the massacre itself, it’s easy for someone to look at this information and say, “I wasn’t surprised.” It’s not so easy when you look at how many kids actually fit this description, maybe even your own kid or you when you were in school.

Gun Laws…

On the one hand, there is much merit to the argument that all the law-abiding citizens in this country giving up their guns won’t stop a criminal from obtaining one. On the other hand, the argument that the death toll was higher in Connecticut because a gun was used. However, while one can kill more people with a gun than with a knife, and one can kill demonstrably more people with automatic weapons, one can kill even more people with a car, and even more with high-end explosives, and still even more with an airplane.

Do I have the answer? No, I don’t. Obviously, this is a very complicated issue that touches on the right to privacy, the right to own firearms, the right to be free from unlawful search and seizure, and, of course, the right for a parent to expect their children will get through the school day without being murdered. Point of fact, the shooter was obviously very mentally ill. If he was unable to access firearms, but was intent on committing mass murder, he would have found another way. Perhaps with less casualties, perhaps with more.

It cannot be ignored that if the shooter did not use assault weapons in this case, the casualties would have been less. It is for this reason that those who favor gun ownership should always use critical thinking skills when considering the issue of gun control, and not give complete consideration to the extremist anti-gun folks or the extremist who think that all kinds of weapons should be available at your local Wal*Mart.

We Need Answers…

Sometimes it’s difficult for us to examine the things we feel strongly about. We form our opinions and points of view on various topics and sometimes we expend great energy defending them. Nothing wrong with this, but sometimes there is a disconnect between arguing the validity of a point using healthy skepticism and critical thought. Some people have come to a point where their adoption of an issue is no longer based on reason and logic, but has been hijacked by the rhetoric of influential people who are acerbic, reactionary and completely out of touch with reality. Ergo, extremists and their followers.

Yes, there needs to be viable solutions presented. I totally understand that it might seem logical in these times of extreme emotional duress to call out for all guns to be banned outright, for a variety of the reasons presented by those who oppose them. Some of those who oppose gun ownership are very level-headed individuals and have very good arguments for their point of view. They deserve consideration when their points are presented in clear, concise and statistical way. There is a plethora of information regarding this issue, and if one dismisses these arguments simply because we don’t agree with getting rid of all guns, then perhaps skepticism and critical thinking skills are not being utilized to their full advantage.

It doesn’t matter which side of the issue is in consideration that changes the fact that the utterly nonsensical and moronic viewpoints coming from the extremists are not indicative of good arguments. They exhibit the type of mentality that is typical of extremists of any kind. Fractured, illogical, unrealistic and mentally disconnected from anything even remotely cognizant. A good example would be a person who compares mass murderers to those who hold different opinions than they do. These people exhibit the height of irresponsibility, disingenuous reasoning and is indicative of a mind incapable of rational thought.

If and when background checks for the purchase of firearms comes up again, the topic of mental health will be addressed, as well as some solutions to identify psychopathic behavior. I still believe this to be the key issue, but as a skeptic, I am still open to further reflection on my own, personal points of view regarding gun laws.

Final Thoughts…

As a parent and grandparent, I cannot even fathom what it is like losing a child, especially under the circumstances of a mass school shooting. If you have children of any age, hug them and tell them you love them.

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