For 13 years I have been analyzing and writing about mass shootings; for 13 years I have been hitting my head against a stonewall.
Mass slaughter on school grounds, in theaters, in churches, and in shopping malls may be the most serious and complex problem in this nation’s history. Solving the problem will take careful and deliberate thought, but thinking is hard work, that is why so few people do it. Those few who do propose actions are met with a fusillade of reasons why their ideas won’t work.
Misguided Second Amendment proponents come up with an endless list of reasons as to why this or that proposal is bad, why this or that proposal violates individual rights. Second Amendment proponents are people you go to when you want to be told, “This or that idea is no good” or “that violates the Constitution.” They have no ideas or counter proposals, all they have is criticism. The main staple of their vocabulary is “no.”
We, as a nation, seem paralyzed. Every time legislation is proposed, Second Amendment advocates decry it as a violation of Constitutional rights to bear arms. Nowhere do they mention the Constitutional rights of the dead and wounded victims.
The Constitution was written when mussel-loading muskets were the firearm of the day. The founding fathers did not imagine rapid-fire assault weapons. There were no six-chamber pistols, nor were there AK-47s. There were no multi-bullet magazines that mow down or wound large numbers of people in just a few minutes.
The problem of gun violence in this country has reach epidemic proportions and it is getting worse. From Columbine, to Grundy, to Blacksburg, to Aurora, to Charleston, to Roseburg, to Northern Arizona on it goes. The bodies are piled higher and higher, and we take no action to end the carnage.
There is no easy solution. The causes are numerous: lack of mental health care, failure to recognize these shootings are a male-related crisis (97% of the mass shootings are done by males), no universal background checks for people buying guns, and politicians who have sold out to gun manufactures and the NRA.
The sharp rise in gun violence can be pinpointed to the states’ cutting back mental health care services and facilities. In many instances people who are a threat to themselves or others have no place to go. In Virginia the mental health care system is so dysfunctional that when state Senator Creigh Deeds tried to get his son committed for treatment, he was told there was no bed available. In fact beds were available. Within 24 hours of being denied treatment, Deed’s son seriously wounded his father and then killed himself.
There are no cheap fixes to the problem of gun violence. It will take time and money—lots of both. It will take mandatory background checks to keep guns out of the hands of those who are a threat to themselves and others as well as terrorists, domestic abusers, and convicted felons. Nowhere in the Constitution does it say that any of these groups has a right to own and keep firearms.