THE LATEST THINKING
The opinions of THE LATEST’s guest contributors are their own.
Banning Guns Not The Answer
America has a mental illness problem, not a gun problem.
Since the tragic school shooting in Broward County Florida, the gun debate has taken hold of the national conversation. Much of the tone has been hostile towards gun owners, with protestors blaming Trump, Congress, law enforcement and even the NRA. The National Rifle Association has been around for nearly 150 years, teaching the importance of gun ownership safety and competency to generations of law-abiding Americans. I hardly think they are a primary driver of gun violence in this country.
Citizens were much more likely to own a gun in the 1950s than today, yet mass shootings were rare back then, and today we seem to hear about "senseless" acts of gun violence almost every week.
So, what's the problem?
It's not the guns (or other weapons) that are the issue, the truth is, we have a mental illness problem in America.
Now, most people would consider a person who commits mass murder to be crazy, right? Well, probably so. Many of the individuals who commit these heinous acts have been treated for mental disorders in the past or at least demonstrated signs of psychological problems that should have been addressed. But why do we as a society allow that person to roam around in public with virtual authority to harm themselves or others?
Today, thanks to the hard work of so-called "progressive reformers" (a.k.a. liberals), involuntary psychiatric intervention has been all but abolished. So, if a lunatic does not want to be treated for their apparent mental issues, they can release themselves back into the community. This policy is, in itself, insane. We cannot as a civilized society allow people who are so obviously mentally ill to interact with the public.
Since the 1960s, deinstitutionalization has been the goal of liberal lawmakers, be it jail or mental hospitals. Just like we see today with so many other societal differences, progressives thought that labeling someone as mentally ill was stigmatizing. It would be better, they thought, to let them back into society, where they could magically heal themselves. This new utopic reality would provide "community health centers" that would attend to the needs of the mentally ill who voluntarily showed up for treatment. Surprise! Nobody came.
We can see where this policy has gotten us. Here in California, the mentally ill are allowed to live on the streets, accost pedestrians, babble incessantly and generally annoy (and sometimes attack) the public.
Now, I'm not saying that everyone who is mentally ill will commit mass-murder in the future, but we need to start by addressing the underlying issues that cause people to indiscriminately slaughter. Compulsory evaluation and treatment for mentally disturbed individuals are needed now more than ever. Until we begin to combat mental illness comprehensively, with identification, compulsory treatment and monitoring, no amount of weapon-banishing will end the threat of future senseless acts of violence.
NRA faces corporate backlash after latest school shooting.