Friday, December 14, 2012

On Gun Control & Mental Illness

There's no one who disagrees that today's tragedy in Connecticut was completely senseless. In the wake of that tragedy, which seems to have all of America grieving--parents and those who aren't, alike--the hailstorm of chatter about gun control has me thinking. Okay, it has me downright pissed, if we're being honest. The heinous act of spilling innocent young blood was perpetrated by a crazed gunman, a sick individual. If there should be a discussion about what happened today and why, it should be a discussion about more effective treatment for mental illness--that is, access to treatment for the mentally ill. That should be up for discussion, gun control shouldn't. Everyone should agree, right now, that it's unfair and frankly sick, to politicize this tragedy in attempts to leverage legislative efforts on gun control, which only rob sane American's of our right to keep and bear arms. Sadly, not everyone does and many are taking advantage of a terrible tragedy.

I've seen some downright crazy things today pertaining to gun control and this tragic school shooting. I have a friend who believes we should arm teachers and as much as I respect him, it's something I can't agree with. Can you imagine if teachers had the power to shoot students who had gone on a killing spree? Can you imagine a teacher who could shoot a child, even a crazed mentally ill, dangerous child? Um, no. I've seen the liberal front on Facebook screaming about "crazy, insensitive republicans" and their guns, and for whatever reason, their opposition to health care reform, like that has anything to do with this. I'm a liberal. I'm in favor of health care reform, but not taking away guns. It's just disappointing to me that liberals are so up in arms--pun intended--about gun control right now. It's completely illogical, even if it's not surprising. They'll take absolutely any chance they can to push their anti-firearm agenda. I'll repeat what I said before, it's sick. And really, for me, the only connection between gun control and health care reform pertains to the point I've already made, that access to mental health care should be easier. Or at least it should be as easy to get therapy as it is to get a gun, at the very least.

At the risk of sounding insensitive to today's horrors--and trust me, I'm just as heartbroken as the rest of America for the loss of those innocent little children--this is really, really not the time to scream gun control. This is not the moment to blame "NRA nuts" for clinging to their guns. Vacating our second amendment rights, because a very, very small percentage of the population have used them to do evil, is completely irrational. It's a bit like punishing all of your children when just one does something wrong. Not only is it not very nice, it's fairly immoral to leverage absolute authority to punish over the lot for the sins of the one, or in this case few.

Today children died, teachers died, people are heartbroken and grieving, educators and parents are all petrified to got work and to send their children to school. Kids are afraid to go to school. On the whole, Americans are shaking their heads and drying their tears, at a total loss for words. It's so unbelievably terrible we can't truly comprehend it. That's an unfortunate reality of a world where not everyone is mentally stable--a world where, sadly,where such mental illnesses depression and bi-polar disorder aren't taken seriously enough. It's so easy to point fingers at something, anything, in an attempt to grasp at someone or something to blame. But, a gun is a means, it is not a cause. Guns don't make people kill other people, they just make it easier.

Before this, the discussion about gun control was recently reinvigorated by Jovan Belcher, a football player with Kansas City Chiefs, who took his girlfriends life and then his own. People, including Bob Costas, a man I generally tend to respect, began calling from the highest peaks that guns enabled evil to act out it's monstrous agenda. It's a fallacy of false cause to assume that guns are responsible for killings. The same is true here. Guns are not responsible for the death of those children, or the teachers, a madman is. That's something that should never be forgotten. Ryan Lanza, initially wrongly accused of this crime and the gunman's brother, said that Adam Lanza had a history of mental illness. Adam Lanza was sick and disturbed. Jovan Belcher was sick and disturbed. They each chose to take lives. This is an issue that sorely lacks perspective, and one that's further losing perspective by the hour.

Now is the time for grieving, the time to pull together as a nation, but in the wake of a tragedy that has everyone heartbroken, legislation and drastic actions are probably not the right thing. Who can be of sound mind to make decisions at the highest level, particularly one that infringe on our constitutionally guaranteed rights, while this painful wound is still so raw? Everyone needs to calm down and bring the perspective back, or maybe go looking for it in the first place, because those innocent little children and the teachers who lost their lives today should be the central focus as we remember and try to heal from today's shocking and senseless tragedy.