The World is Watching America’s Gun Violence

by Diane Dimond on October 12, 2015

At Ashford Castle in County Mayo, Ireland

At Ashford Castle in County Mayo, Ireland

After a glorious vacation abroad I return this week to admit I came home embarrassed for my country.

My husband and I were in Ireland when word of America’s latest mass shooting hit the European media and the story was the lead item on every news program.

Sky News, the BBC, Good Morning Ireland each featured American reporters in Roseburg, Oregon for the latest on the shooting. Then they brought in panels of pundits to talk about it.

“When there are 24 campus shootings in one year in America we need to realize there is something profound happening in America,” said Zoe Williams, a columnist for the Guardian newspaper. “It doesn’t happen anywhere else in the world.”

Zoe Williams, Guardian Newspaper

Zoe Williams, Guardian Newspaper

Williams was wrong about the number of U.S. school shootings. The actual number so far this year (according to the non-profit group Everytown for Gun Safety) is 45.** But Williams was right that we need to admit there is something horrifically “profound” about what’s happening in America.

Brendan Keenan of the Irish Independent pointed out that mass shootings happen so frequently in the United States that, “A statistician could responsibly extrapolate how many more (shootings) to expect since they occur on such a regular basis.”

What a kick in the teeth. Heartbreaking gun violence happens so often in America that it can now be accurately predicted. Who among us thinks that’s okay?

“It’s in the culture there now,” said the host of one program. “Now these shootings are not an oddity. They (Americans) have come to think of them as a way of life.”

U.S. Citizens Own More than 300 Million Guns

U.S. Citizens Own More than 300 Million Guns

Ouch. Truth hurts.

Our politicians give lip service to the idea of tougher gun laws, oblivious to the idea that the sick and the criminal aren’t deterred by the myriad of laws already on the books. The lame plans calling for more regulations on gun shows and background checks, are stale and irrelevant.

The New York Times reports that most recent mass shooters used legally purchased guns bought from licensed dealers, not from gun shows. Furthermore, these shooters easily passed background checks as they had no criminal backgrounds to reveal. Their murder sprees were their first deadly act.

The real problem is that the systems set up to keep track of both criminals and the mentally ill are insidiously inadequate.

Virginia Tech Will Never Forget

Virginia Tech Will Never Forget

Seung-Hui Cho, who murdered 32 people on the campus of Virginia Tech in 2007, had a long history of mental illness. A Virginia court had ordered Cho, 23, into mandatory treatment but he never attended and was never reported to the federal background database. He passed two background checks and legally bought his guns.

Aaron Alexis, had been dismissed from the U.S. Navy for disruptive behavior, treated twice by the VA system for psychiatric issues and told Rhode Island police someone was trying to kill him by sending vibrations through his hotel room walls.  About a month later, in September 2013, he passed a background check, bought a gun and killed 12 people inside the Navy Yard in Washington, DC..  None of the government agencies ever reported Alexis to the federal database.

Fryberg Never Should Have Had Gun Access

Fryberg Never Should Have Had Gun Access

Last October, Jaylen Fryberg, 15, used his father’s Beretta to gun down four students inside his Marysville, Washington high school cafeteria. His father never should have been able to walk into his local gun shop and buy that Beretta because he had a permanent domestic violence protection order against him. That information should have been entered into the federal database but it wasn’t.

We know who the mentally disturbed are. Why is there no mechanism for keeping firearms out of their possession? Yes, there are laws against revealing personal medical records but there are exemptions in the name of public safety.

And why aren’t there enough beds to treat mentally ill citizens? How is it that someone suffering from profound schizophrenia can – as James Holmes, the Aurora, Colorado Theater shooter did – anonymously buy thousands of rounds of ammunition on line? Can’t we at least regulate the bullets that make the weapons so potentially deadly?

Not Everyone Should Have Access

Not Everyone Should Have Access

We spend time discussing more laws that are beside the point. The media is blamed for naming the shooters and spawning copycat killers. Responsible gun owners are vilified. Our brains are fogged with so much diversionary discussion that we fail to recognize the clear path out of this deadly problem.

Identify the mentally ill and make sure they are nowhere near a gun. Give their loved ones a mechanism to seek meaningful help. Strengthen state mandatory hold laws for the mentally ill, not to punish but to provide genuine treatment. Make feeding timely information into the federal database absolutely mandatory for all law enforcement and government agencies.

The world is watching. Let’s get smarter about this.

 

** By the time this column ran in newspapers the number of campus shootings had risen to 47 

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{ 18 comments… read them below or add one }

Gary L. Hoe October 12, 2015 at 1:58 am

I agree with you 100%. The stupidity with medical privacy laws keeps us from quarantining the dangerously contagious, from finding out the status of relatives, from knowing whether our airline pilot is full of allergy medicine and unfit to fly, and yes, from identifying those who are dangerous in another way – mentally so – as Diane so eloquently has said. We simply MUST suborn the privacy of the individual for the good of the whole in thee cases.
I would add another facet to her argument. The second amendment allows us to own guns, unless there is a cogent reason to disallow it, such as prior felonies. Note that the second amendment permits this so that we can mount a personal self defense, a militia unit as it states, which is well regulated, such as requiring training so as to get a concealed-carry permit. Thus, I would propose that improper use of a gun, such as in the case of an aggravated felony, is not a state crime but a Federal one, and an abuse of the civil rights of the rest of us.
Federal courts are harder on their criminals than many local courts, and Federal detainees seldom get bail and must stay incarcerated until their trial. Federal courts have little empathy for “local boy made a mistake” claims, and treat crimes under their jurisdiction with the severity they merit. And one penalty ought to be revocation of citizenship – if you can’t act like an American, you can’t wear the label.
So – make certain medical conditions reportable with penalties for delay and refusal to do so, and make gun crimes a Federal offense. That ought to be a good start.

Remember that our Republic is founded on the belief that its citizens would have the morality to know right from wrong, and to choose to do what is right. If that is no longer the case, then it will be impossible to hire enough police to save us from the consequences.

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Diane Dimond October 12, 2015 at 7:40 am

ABQ Journal Reader Pat Caristo writes:

“Hello Ms. Dimond. I appreciated the fact that you identified the problem AND offered needed and applicable solutions: Identifying those who should be kept from firearms AND providing love ones and caretakers with a way to seek and get help for them. Adding the names into the federal database for background checks in a mandatory and timely and technically supported program. Good and response ideas with a real application process.

A fan of long-standing,

Pat Caristo

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Diane Dimond October 12, 2015 at 7:41 am

ABQ Journal Wallace Rafferty writes:

“Diane, reading your editorial this morning in the Albuquerque Journal was profoundly accepted by me as the most sensible points for legitimate control of weapons in the hands of people who should not have them. I feel great embarrassment as a citizen of the US who served in the Marine Corps in 1970 and as a law enforcement officer in northwest NM in the eyes of the rest of the world. I learned long ago that the weapon is only an extension of the aberrated motivations of the people who use them in non-confrontational situations. We have become a society of sheep with not enough sheep dogs to protect us. The points you bring up about utilizing the systems already in place are far more thought worthy than trying to seek further legislations to limit the ownership of firearms in this country by law abiding citizens. I further bring forth that this Country was born by violence (basicly guns) and that guns have permeated our culture since our childhoods. I have to mention that firearms should not be left for children to have ready access to them and that there should be penalties affixed to the adults or guardians if you will who allow a child to access a firearm for any reason especially in situations where they do harm to innocent bystanders. I thought your ideas to bring to light what the rest of the world sees in our culture and wish all lawmakers and pundits of No Attempt to limit access to firearms would embrace in an open minded approach to this God awful problem. We live in a land where the Constitutional Rights of all Citizens is to live in peace and security at all times within these borders. I feel that has been totally abridged by these horrific events that seem to be of epidemic proportions. I further agree wholeheartedly that the Mentally ill need treatment, not the wait and see attitude that Maybe they won’t commit acts of violence against their fellow human beings.

Stop politicizing a social problem that needs to be addressed sooner than later, and always remember that the assistance of any law enforcement agency is after the fact when it comes to responding to emergencies or criminal acts. In other words there is not a Cop over everyone’s shoulder to keep them safe. Their role is reactionary not preemptive, and to be honest I do not wish to live in a society where our civil rights are constantly controlled by local, state or federal entities (even more so than they already are). Thank You for your input and hope you had a wonderful time in Ireland!”

Sincerely,

Wallace Rafferty

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Diane Dimond October 12, 2015 at 7:42 am

ABQ Journal Reader Jim Patrick writes:

“Ms. Dimond,

I just finished reading your “We have the tools needed to curtail gun violence” piece.

Thank you.”

Jim Patrick
Sandia Park, NM

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Diane Dimond October 12, 2015 at 7:43 am

Reader Craig Fay writes:

“Excellent article, especially the last two paragraphs. The frequency of the shootings almost makes you think someone is orchestrating it, doesn’t it?”

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Diane Dimond October 12, 2015 at 7:44 am

ABQ Journal Reader Dominick Burlone writes:

“Diane Dimond for President!

Seriously, I doubt you and I would agree much on guns but I thank you for starting the conversation in the right direction on the problem of violence in our country. Your facts are indisputable and very convincing.
Lack of mental health treatment is one, and just one, of the reasons that is responsible for disturbed people taking the lives of innocent others. Reporting mental health problems to the government will be a tough nut to crack. Trashing the rights of gun owners like me seems to be OK to some but I am concerned with everyone’s rights, including those of the mentally ill, especially the non-violent mentally ill.
We cannot prevent violence from happening in a free society but you seem to be on the right track for addressing one of its causes. You have at least one gun owner on board. Yes, you seem to be a lot smarter than President Obama.

Dominick Burlone
Rio Rancho, NM

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Diane Dimond October 12, 2015 at 7:46 am

Reader Inu Qien Ankh writes:

Blaming the over 135 million law-abiding guns owners, and guns for the actions of a few homicidal maniacs bent not only in achieving their twisted 15 minutes (much more actually) of fame by murdering innocents, but of being enablers to people like you who would punish millions over the actions of a handful.
It’s like blaming ALL African-Americans merely because most gun homicides are committed by African-Americans; like blaming women for the sorry state of affairs in the USA since women got the right to vote.
Guns have been around for HUNDREDS of years in the USA. School shootings are a very recent phenomenon and coincide with: 1) The anti-religion attitude espoused by government and the removal of any mention of G_d, Ten Commandments, etc. from our schools 2) The proliferation of extremely violent, disturbingly graphic, and often downright sadistically violent films cranked out by Hollywood 3) The proliferation of extremely violent, disturbingly graphic and often downright sadistically violent video games.
You don’t like guns? Go live in countries that don’t allow them- Cuba, for example, which has a gun homicide rate of 5.0 per 100,000; North Korea, which has a gun homicide rate of 15.1 per 100,000; Venezuela which has a gun homicide rate of 45.0 per 100,000. The U.S.’s gun homicide rate is 4.4 per 100,000, and that’s because 80% of gun homicides are committed by drug-dealing inner-city gangs of 14-20 year olds who are already in violent of many federal laws by even possessing a firearm, not to mention owning firearms while possessing drugs. If you factored these THUGS out of the equation, our gun homicide rate would only be 0.08 per 100,000 higher than Japan’s, Iceland’s and Norway’s.
Do suicides by guns trouble you? Why aren’t you troubled by Japan’s suicides? They have 1/3 or our population and not only surpass us in the rate of suicide, but NUMERICALLY as well. And a great many European countries also surpass our suicide rate.
There will ALWAYS be miscreants who abuse their rights- and that’s no excuse to deprive others of those rights. I’m a Jew and a Senior Citizen, I’ll be damned if I give up my weapons.
The Weimar Republic and Hitler cited the same concerns, and look what ultimately happened. NEVER AGAIN. I terminated by Ant-Defamation League membership because of their STUPIDITY.
Dr. Ben Carson is right. READ “Gun Control in the Third Reich” by Stephen Halbrook, and learn how Connecticut Senator Thomas J. Dodd was so enamored of the Nazi Gun Control Laws that he had the Library of Congress translate them and he used them, almost word-for-word, to craft his Gun Control Act of 1968.
President Obama signs an Executive Order granting himself and his family LIFETIME Secret Service Protection. The rest of us get Warren v. District of Columbia, stating neither government nor the police have a duty to protect the individual. And you want to make it even HARDER for honest citizens to purchase weapons? The government shouldn’t even have it’s rapacious snout in the matter. Rights shouldn’t be licensed by anyone- that’s why they are called rights.
Keep writing your hysterical, knee jerk, simplistic pieces. There’s a reason by most politicians shy away from more gun control: 1) They know it won’t prevent or solve anything 2) They know they don’t have the backing of the overwhelming majority of Americans- except people like you who either enjoy protection at taxpayer expense by being at the public trough, or enjoy LOTS of discretionary income and can afford to pay for private security; live in the best of neighborhoods; state of the art security system; and command 1st class status among local police. The rest of us don’t have access to any of that. Fear the government. It’s GOVERNMENTS that have committed the most prolific and heinous acts against disarmed populations, not the other way around.”

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Diane Dimond October 12, 2015 at 8:16 am

Wow. Did you even read my column? Oh, that’s right. You must have because you called it “Hysterical, knee jerk and simplistic.” May I suggest that the most simple, common sense ideas are often the route to success?

Anyone who reads my work knows that you are accusing me of here is preposterous. Is this a canned response you send to any columnist who writes anything about gun violence?

I frequently write and guns and consistently preach about how 99.99% of all gun owners are responsible and law abiding. I do NOT advocate, “punish(ing) millions over the actions of a handful.” I am not against guns so that I need to go live in Cuba or North Korea. What ill-informed things to say to me.

I have a website full of my writings on the issue of gun and gun violence. I invite you there to simply search for the word “gun” and read up on my position on citizen ownership of firearms.

And by the way, I’m married to a Jew (for 25 years now) so there is no need to lecture me about the Weimar Republic.

~DD

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Diane Dimond October 12, 2015 at 7:47 am

Reader Joel Widman writes:

“First, there is no one solution. A key to a partial solution is to identify the elements that many mass shootings have in common which is an abdication of parental responsibility. In Sandy Hook, Roseburg and Marysville, irresponsible parents failed to secure their weapons resulting in access by their mentally disturbed and/or underage children. We don’t need more gun laws ], what we need are laws that make the parents criminally liable as if they had pulled the trigger and answerable in civil damages. As I recall,what finally shut down the Nazis in Idaho was a civil judgment that in effect bankrupted the organization allowing the Feds to seize their property in whole or partial satisfaction. A few years behind bars for the mothers of the Roseburg and Sandy Hook shooters coupled with a civil judgment that they will spend the rest of their lives paying off might get the message across.

To answer one of your questions, there is no mechanism for keeping guns out of the hands of the mentally disturbed because there is no way such a mechanism would pass constitutional muster.How disturbed would one have to be, is anyone who suffers intermittent bouts of depression disturbed, is anyone who has sought counseling disturbed and who is going to compile the lists, the government?

The fact is that gun violence is declining and mass shootings constitute a small percentage of total shootings.I just read an article by a Chicago Tribune reporter that the rate of non gun-related murders in the U.S. is twice that of Great Britain. We live in a violent society and that’s not going to change any time soon.

Finally, I refuse to be lectured by Europeans on morality.My recollection is that they are the friendly folks who bought us World Wars I and II and the Holocaust.”

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Diane Dimond October 12, 2015 at 8:23 am

Dear Joel,
I really appreciate hearing the solutions readers offer. Yours about punishing the parents who fail to secure their weapons is intriguing. But of course, in the case of the Sandy Hook shooter, that would have been impossible as the very first person Adam Lanza shot (in the face) was his mother.

I take your point though and it might work in the case of a child or teenager who kills – think Jayden Fryberg who I mentioned in the column.

But thinking back to other mass shooters: Jared Loughner, James Holmes, Aaron Alexis for example – they were all grown men. Trying to charge their parent’s with a crime would prove next to impossible, I think.

Now, I want to go read up on the Nazis in Idaho! Thanks for taking time to write.

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Diane Dimond October 12, 2015 at 7:47 am

Reader Ken Earle writes:

“Since I neither agree with you all the time nor disagree with you all the time, it probably means you have a fair and interesting opinion and ideas. But, I have to disagree with a few things in this column. First getting suitable gun sales controls past the NRA will be a lot simpler than passing suitable mental health programs in each of 50 states, to say nothing of enforcing such mental health programs or managing loop holes between different states programs. So calling mental health programs a strong solution for our runaway gun death problem is humorous at best. It certainly is a key in a many pronged attempt. But ever since Reagan as Governor of California decided about 50 years ago that mental health problems were too expensive for his conservative ideals, we have seen the demise of mental health treatment and support throughout our nation. It not only does not exist in any meaningful way, the nation has no stomach (nor budget) for what is needed.

You quote the NYT that most recent mass shooters passed background checks. What about the minority then? If there is a most, then there has to be some prospective shooters who were hindered by background checks. If just one was stopped, how many lives were saved? Can we even know the number of prospective shooters who were deterred by gun checks? How many more might be deterred by substantive enforced regulations? And since we are talking about NYC, what are the NYPD statistics on guns confiscated that were purchased by people in Virginia which found their way to NYC crime scenes? Virginia has notoriously weak gun show laws, to the point NY has tried to sue Virginia in Federal court.

And, I am humored and mystified by your phrase “absolutely mandatory” respects reporting of information to federal databases (Another can of worms about overbearing Federal controls so hated by gun rights people, Tea Partyers, Southerners in general –I thought the Civil War solved that question etc etc). Can you explain the difference between “mandatory” (as in most gun purchase/licensing laws now) and “absolutely mandatory” that you seem to be proposing? Is a violation of a “mandatory” regulation a misfeasor and violation of “absolutely mandatory” becomes a felony? Would violation of a “damn site better report” regulation be a capital offense?

Lastly, who will be the arbiter of “mentally disturbed” or at what degree does a “mentally disturbed “ person become ineligible to buy a gun?

Just wondering.”

Ken Earle

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Diane Dimond October 12, 2015 at 8:30 am

Thanks for writing, Mr. Earle, I welcome all points of view.

However, there is a glaring error in your assumptions. The sad state of affairs surrounding mental health services in this country are not attributable to Ronald Reagan. Please do a Google search of your own or read this:

http://www.ukiahdailyjournal.com/opinion/20130609/another-voice-mental-health-myths

Regarding your being “humored and mystified” by my use of the phrase that we make it, “absolutely mandatory….” for law enforcement to report data to the federal data base.

The system you are worried about creating to do that already exists. But here’s the rub: many law enforcement agencies don’t make it a priority to send their data on to the feds. Oh, they’ll get around to it, say, 8 or 10 months or even a year and a half after they’ve learned of a mentally ill person .…but many are in no hurry to comply. By making such reports “absolutely mandatory” – and made in a timely fashion think of the lives that might be saved.

How many? Who knows – just like we can’t know (as you put it), “the number of prospective shooters who were deterred by gun checks? How many more might be deterred by substantive enforced regulations?”

Finally, to your question about who will be the arbiter of the mentally ill? Again, that system is already in place in each state. Basically, it is left to mental health professionals who provide findings on those who have been committed to an institution or judged by a court of law to have a mental defect or disturbance. Oftentimes this finding expires after a period of time (like, five years) so the patient is not branded for life, so to speak. ~ DD

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Diane Dimond October 12, 2015 at 7:48 am

Reader Robert Noyes-Smith writes:

“Dear Diane,

Your article on gun violence is so common sense, I reiterate, Please run for President. Fools to the left of me, jokers to the right, here I am, stuck in the middle with you!”

Best Rob.

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Diane Dimond October 12, 2015 at 7:49 am

Noozhawk Reader Harold A. Maio writes:

“• The real problem is that the systems set up to keep track of both criminals and the mentally ill are insidiously inadequate.
I track “the” mentally ill in the daily news. It is quite easy to track and altogether too popular.

It is, of course, as disinformative and offensive as “the” Blacks.”

Harold A. Maio, retired mental health editor

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Diane Dimond October 12, 2015 at 8:35 am

Yeah. I take offense with your stance, Mr. Maio. Trying to brand me as a racist just won’t do.

Your position like saying the TSA cannot give special consideration to a young male traveler from the Middle East who looks suspicious going through the security line. Hiding our heads in the sand about those who fit to a potentially hazardous group is short-sighted at best – dangerously ignorant at worst.

But I’ve posted your comment here on my website. I welcome all points of view even when I don’t agree with them.

~DD

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Diane Dimond October 12, 2015 at 9:01 pm

Reader John Williams writes:

“Hello.

As per your recent column, I realize that since the mentally ill are not a rich and powerful entity, they can be easily blamed for all things that go wrong. Consider the real reasons for scapegoating the mentally ill:
(1) So that more Kendra Laws get passed for secret-agenda intentional reasons. The main such reasons is so that rich and powerful people can punish and control their victims who complain about them, while confident that Kendra’s Law will never apply to them. For example, In Jan., 2014, Rep. Michael Grimm (R., NY) made violent death threats against a reporter on TV. Yet, Rep. Grimm was never prosecuted under Kendra’s Law – which originated in New York
(1999) – nor was his concealed carry permit revoked, nor did he lose his job because of that incident. If instead the reporter had made the identical threats against Rep. Grimm, he would have been severely punished, including under Kendra’s Law, jailed and fired. Not to mention the unintended consequences of Kendra’s Law. For examples, relatives trying to grab the old coot’s money and property, private profiteers in the mental health industry, etc.
(2) By far, most murders in the U.S. are committed by abusers, sellers and buyers of drugs and alcohol. Since drug dealers are rich, powerful, dangerous and highly organized violent criminals, newsmedia cowards must find someone a lot weaker and disorganized to blame.

Also consider:
(1) Josef Stalin “justified” sending political dissidents to the gulags during his Soviet rule by falsely claiming that they were mentally ill.
(2) There is no clear and certain way to objectively distinguish between normal human emotions and behaviors with insanity, never mind the DSM IV (DSM once classified homosexuality as a mental illness – until it was discovered that many mental health care professions are homosexuals). For example, romantic love is indistinguishable from a severe obsessive-compulsive mental disorder. Biochemist Donatella Marazziti, et al, published their research findings in the journal, “Psychological Medicine”, 2000: “Alteration of the platelet serotonin transporter in romantic love.” They discovered that, biochemically, romantic love is indistinguishable from a severe obsessive-compulsive mental disorder. Since romantic love is the same as a severe mental disorder, people in love must be forced by a judge to take psychoactive chemicals under Kendra’s Law, PLUS be banned forever from buying guns. How about banning gun ownership to alcoholics, drug addicts, and people who have suffered grief?
(3) There is no proof that mentally ill people commit more murders than say any other demographic group, except perhaps Catholic nuns. Lumping all mental illnesses together is not only scientifically ignorant but also grossly unjust and unjustifiable. There are dozens of serious mental disorders, of which only 2-3 are potentially dangerous.
(4) Even if the dangerously mentally ill could be identified with certainty, it would not stop or even lessen mass murders by the mentally ill. Adam Lanza is a classic example. Lanza’s mother – perfectly sane and no violence or criminal record – legally bought her guns. Crazy Lanza stole one, murdered her, and then did the Newtown mass murder. With 300 million guns on the streets of America, there will ALWAYS be guns easily available to potential mass murderers.
(5) Who would you rather have with a gun: (A) A guy who was forcibly incarcerated in a mental institution for one night, 20 years ago, but has since never threatened or harmed anyone? (B) Or a guy who voluntarily committed himself to a mental institution for 20 years, and just got out hours ago?
(6) Who would you rather have with a gun: (A) A highly decorated war hero who gave everything to our Country with severe PTSD who fully understands, loves and safely uses guns all of his life? (B) Or a perfectly healthy scumbag draft dodger coward who spends all day playing murderous video games, and only knows how to load a gun, point it and pull the trigger?
(7) Voluntarily getting treatment for mental disorders in the USA is laughable. I am a Disabled Veteran who honorably served our Country in a time of war, with diagnosed PTSD, who has repeatedly sought for years from the VA for outpatient mental health care and been refused for years. Even after President Obama repeatedly promised Veterans that the VA would treat ALL Veterans with PTSD or TBI.

Please respond.”

John Williams

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Karen Griffin October 13, 2015 at 9:31 am

I am completely dumbfounded that an intelligent person as yourself could sit there and declare that if we target the mentally ill, all our gun violence problems will go away. Do you know anything about mental illness? Do you have any idea what it means to be mentally ill? I am going to say most probably you do not considering this piece.

If you truly want gun safety, then you need to put into place requirements for gun owners to prove they know how to safely operate and store a gun. Besides a background check for EVERY gun sale, mandatory training and licensing of individuals that would like to own a gun must occur BEFORE they own a gun. Any gun owner that currently owns a gun could take a written and practical exam to prove they meet the requirements and get licensed and if they don’t the should have to put their guns in lock down until they do. Every gun someone owns needs to be registered in their name. Having to go through a thorough process of training and licensing would eliminate those who now legally purchase a gun, passing a background check in the process, inspired by the desire to inflict damage to as many people as they can, whether previously diagnosed as mentally ill or not. These are not people that are going to go through structured training and licensing. They are “spur of the moment” gun buyers for the most part.

Passing laws that make a gun owner legally liable for the unlawful use of a their gun by an unlicensed/unpermitted person or a person to whom the gun is not registered (whether for a crime or recreational use) would cut down drastically the number of people who think it is just fine to leave guns with ammunition available around untrained and unlicensed individuals or to “loan” out guns to their best buddies. Making the punishment even more severe if the user is a minor will help ensure that gun owners do not put children in jeopardy by leaving guns accessible to them. If a gun is stolen, not reported, and then used to commit a crime, the gun owner who did not report the theft would also be legally liable. If a gun is sold and the change of ownership is not recorded and the gun is then used as part of a crime or is found in possession of someone to whom the gun is not registered, the gun owner it is registered to should also be legally liable. All of this will help keep new guns from entering the black market.

A massive “no questions asked” buy back by the federal government to get as many of the black market guns off the streets as possible also needs to occur while all of the above occurs. This will help keep the cost of black market guns too high for many of the current street criminals who are using guns. There probably is no way to ensure that the black market gun trade disappears, but there are plenty of things that can be done to keep it from getting as far out of hand as it is now.

It is a no-brainer that the legal age for licensing and thus gun ownership should be at least 18 years of age if not 21.

Targeting the mentally ill is a completely prejudice, and yes, I will say it, bigoted attitude on your part. It is not the mentally ill that are the problem, it is the fact that in the United States it is legally more difficult to own and drive a motorcycle than it is to own and use a gun. There are many things one can do without making the mentally ill the boogy-man.

And please, if the argument is that it is a constitutional right to own a gun and like voting there should be no barriers like I am describing to gun ownership, then your argument about the mentally ill goes out the window as well. The mentally ill are allowed to vote. There are no background checks for registering to vote. Felons are banned from voting in many states, but in others they can win that right back. So comparing the constitutional right to vote to the constitutional right to own a gun completely negates ANY type of screening before gun ownership. Then will we be as a nation? We already have over 10,000 deaths per year due to gun violence.

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Diane Dimond October 13, 2015 at 10:04 am

I agree with much of what you say. Of course, gun owners should store their weapons safely-and away from children. I’m all for upping the ownership age for a gun. As you may have noticed I was writing about the cycle of random MASS SHOOTINGS America endures. Really, to ignore the fact that a vast majority of those shooters had mental problems that went unaddressed is akin to sticking your head in the sand. Is helping the mentally ill and their families to get meaningful treatment the ONLY answer to stop repetitive mass shootings? Of course not. But it is most definitely part of the puzzle. Call me a bigot if you must but that’s not where I come from on this. I come from a common sense look at a problem that happens almost no where else but in America. We need to use EVERY possible solution we can. ~ DD

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