Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Mass shootings: No end game in sight to prevent them.

Candlelight vigil after the Oregon Shootings.
Sensible gun control is not about taking guns away from everyone. Sensible gun control is about taking guns away from people that are unstable mentally. If you look at mass shootings, the overwhelming majority is about the gunman having some type of mental issue going on in their life prior to the shooting.

We need expanded background checks that include mental health history. If, say 5 years ago, someone was treated for depression for about a year, that shouldn’t preclude them from getting a gun. But if they have current mental issues, similar to domestic abuse cases, they should be prevented from owning guns. I know that this throws the onus onto the doctors, but this is where real reform needs to start.

I also believe background checks should be in place for gun shows and re-sellers. If I have to register a car, show it is insured, and carry a valid license, why can’t a background check for a gun be done. A car can be used as a weapon, but it is not a weapon. A gun is a weapon. It’s designed to kill. You should have a license per se to kill.

In many of these shootings, the perpetrators had legal guns. If we add this to background checks, it should significantly lower the mass shooting rates. Let’s be realistic, over 310 million guns are in the hands of Americans. We have a constitutional right to bear arms. A significant percentage of these guns have been re-sold and traded. Anyone can get a gun through legal or other means. If you want a gun, you can get a gun. But remember the perpetrators here mostly had legal guns.

 I think that part of the law should be changed. Have mental issues, you can't have a gun. I know this opens up more issues like who determines how ill they are that would preclude them or will people hide their illness so they don't give up their gun. I get it. It isn't a simple work around. But this is a start for reform. 
Ponder this. No one is talking about copy cats at this point. Once all the high school shootings started (Columbine), we saw an increase in high school-related shootings. Now we have colleges being the targeted. Why? Because in these shooters’ warped minds, they see themselves as martyrs. They want their names in the media. Everyone that we do this for, we memorialize them and it inspires the next one.

As we saw after the Oregon shooting, authorities wanted to not give this guy’s name out and wanted to emphasize the victim’s stories. It is a great narrative that all mass shootings should take, but because of the media’s incessant need for that information, his name and history is now known. Should we get media to re-evaluate this policy? Media outlets do not release sexual assault victim’s and minor’s names when it comes to reporting. Can’t they do the same but with regard to these murderer’s names?

My dad was a police officer. My grandfather was an avid hunter. I owned a shotgun and several rifles. Gun ownership is part of our culture. When a tragedy occurs, our initial instincts is to blame the gun. That is farther from the facts. We need to look at the cause and effect instead. What are the root causes for these tragedies? It always comes back to mental health and better, enhanced back ground checks that includes a medical/mental evaluation. Then stop identifying the perpetrators in the media.

Will it end the tragedies? No. But I think it is a commons sense approach to start with. It is better than doing nothing at all.  

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