Last night I had an extended conversation on Facebook (which I do quite often, because these posts don’t tend to happen anywhere near as much as they should).
The conversation started with this article:
I led with the phrase “Because guns fix everything, and there are no consequences, right?”
It didn’t take long to get the usual response.
“I wish they would focus on that, this was not a sane person. If it’s a mental hospital, or prison, she goes forever.”
In the following responses we saw laid bare the actual problem with this statement, and with
the NRA’s [oops! I mean] Texas Republican Senator John Cornyn’s newly proposed gun control bill.
It’s quite simple, really: If you have to be insane to shoot someone, then why are the prisons filled with insane people?
Mental illness isn’t a crime, is it? Well, yes, it is, apparently, or the prisons would be empty and there would be mental institutions everywhere.
There aren’t, are there? Why is that?
Well, the answer’s kinda complicated, see. It starts with the shutdown in the 1980s of mental facilities and President Reagan’s dismantling of a lot of the structure supporting those facilities.
But that’s not a complete answer, is it? No, because people fire guns for a whole bunch of reasons, including (but not limited to) in no particular order:
- racial profiling
You get the idea.
If you look at the prison system today, violent offenders make up only a portion of the population. And a majority of folks who are responsible for gun-related deaths aren’t remotely mentally ill. So where does the NRA come off with claiming this will fix the problem? It’s not a cure. It’s a Band-Aid, designed to draw attention away from the actual problem and place the blame on a population that is far more likely to do nothing at all, or to self-inflict.
Statistically speaking (if you can even call it that), the vast number of certifiably mentally ill shooters who see trial are white. Why is that? Because if it isn’t a murder/suicide, they are far more likely to survive encounters with police if they are white than if they’re not. No, race isn’t a guarantee of protection, but do you suppose the case in Aurora would have seen trial if Holmes had been black? I rather think not, especially in light of Ferguson, Cleveland, Baltimore and the rest.
We have a gun problem in this country and the NRA is pointing at a portion of the population who are under-served, blaming THEM because then we won’t actually address the problem. CDC Mental Healt FastStats show some of the picture, but not all of it.
Prisons are not remotely designed to handle the mentally ill. Rather, imprisonment is a contributing factor to mental illness.
So what’s the deal, NRA? And what makes you think you can just pass the buck?
Just remember, when you pay your dues to the NRA, what you’re supporting. And when you vote for an NRA-backed member of congress, don’t have any mental illness in your background, or you may find you’re on that list.
The law of unintended consequences works all the time.
On December 14, I was cleaning my dining room in preparation for home construction to come. I ran late, got distracted and spent more time than I should have doing the work, which meant I ran late getting up to meet my friends for lunch.
Heading back to the office, I turned on the radio and switched to NPR. That’s when I first heard about Sandy Hook. Continue reading “Following up on gun ownership in the United States…”