I have let this lay low, so to speak, for some time now. We have had another mass shooting. This time in a college town in California. There have been lots of talkers and pundits who are expressing their outrage over the incident. Remarkably, the NRA has seemed rather mute on this particular shooting.
Now, I have done some research on this, and find that it is very difficult to discover everything about the case. Since it is an ongoing investigation, authorities are keeping a lot of facts quiet. But, one thing seems to be coming up that cannot be refuted. The shooter did suffer from some kind of mental illness.
He wrote his “manifesto” before the shooting. And, just before carrying out his act, he made a video about what he was planning to do. I even read where his parents tried to reach out to authorities in an attempt to intervene before the shooting. Of course, nothing worked, and he carried out his actions. He stabbed to death three roommates and then shot three people to death.
A lot of people are talking about this as a misogynistic attack against women. In his video, he clearly blames women for rejecting him and his advances. He was apparently treated for mental illness of some kind, although exactly what I don’t know. Yet, he was able to legally purchase the weapons used and all of the ammunition he wanted.
This brings us to another case where someone who probably shouldn’t have been allowed to own a gun did, and then used that gun to kill others. Before the gun advocates start shouting about their “absolute right to bear arms”, please remember that even Justice Scalia thinks differently. It wasn’t until 2008, that the Supreme Court actually ruled that there existed a “fundamental right to bear arms.” That’s right, it was way back in 2008 that this interpretation of the Second Amendment was made.
But, Justice Scalia, who is by far the most conservative jurist on the court, went out of his way in that decision to say that beyond the holding of hand guns in the home for self-defense, regulations of firearms remains the purview of the state and so too was conduct. He wrote that regulating the use of concealed weapons or barring the use of weapons in certain places or restricting commercial use are permitted.
Before this ruling, there really had been no ruling stating that there was a “fundamental right to bear arm.” This was the first case of its kind. Okay, so now we have a conservative court ruling that we have a “fundamental right to bear arms.’ But, the most conservative justice on that court still says we have the right to regulate firearms.
So, what does that mean in a case like this? Maybe, just maybe, if there had been a law requiring “universal background checks” this person may not have been able to get a gun. Maybe, just maybe, this incident would not have happened. Again, before the gun advocates start shouting, remember that approximately 80% of the American People believe that universal background checks when purchasing a gun is a good idea and want such a law passed. Now, knowing full well that more than 20% of the population own guns, this means a large number of gun owners want universal background checks conducted.
During my research on all of this, I discovered, or rather re-discovered, that many states in the union have laws that can take away a child from a parent who is diagnosed with a mental illness. They don’t even have to prove the parent is a threat to the child. They can simply speculate that the mental illness is a threat to the child. In many cases, even if the psychiatrists say the parent is functioning well and is not a threat to the child, they are not given custody of their own child. Yet, many of these same states do not have universal background checks, and even if there are background checks, these same parents can usually purchase a gun.
Doesn’t that strike you as odd? On one hand, these states are saying if you have a mental illness, they can take away your child simply because you are diagnosed with a mental illness. Yet, they have nothing that keeps you from owning a gun! If the courts deem that you are a potential” threat to your child, doesn’t that make you a “potential” threat to society?
Now, please understand. I am not trying to equate the responsibilities of raising a child with owning a gun. Yet, the determination of being a “threat” to one person, easily be extends to being a “threat” to someone else. If a parent loses custody of a child, isn’t it possible that person could take revenge for the ruling?
On top of all of this, many states have “privacy” laws that protect people from having their mental illness made public. In many circumstances, that makes sense. If this information got out, it could subject the individual to many forms of discrimination. Yet, because of this privacy, these same people can get a gun.
It is time to seriously look at this problem. Even the NRA says people who have mental illness should not be allowed to own a gun. Yet, they fight tooth-and-nail any law that would require universal background checks to find out if a purchaser has a mental illness. We must be careful here. Mental Illness in and of itself is not necessarily a reason to remove custody of a child from the parent. Mental Illness in and of itself may not be a reason to prevent someone from owning a gun.
We need to have a very serious discussion to determine when mental illness is a disqualifier for owning a gun or parenting a child. In most cases, it is deemed to be when the patient is considered a “risk to himself or others” that such disqualifiers exist. No matter how this ends up, without proper reporting and without universal background checks, we will never be able to keep guns out of the hands of people who simply should not be allowed to own guns. Even Justice Scalia said as much in his ruling. The state does have the right to regulate firearms.
Before you start writing me how I am afraid of guns, or how you should take me to the range to learn how to fire a weapon, or whatever else you want to use, don’t! I know how to fire a gun. I have fired guns in the past, I know full well what they are capable of doing to other people. Furthermore, I am not fearful of guns. So, let’s try to keep this logical and serious. If we continue calling others who disagree with us names, we will get nowhere on this subject. Or any others for that matter.