When Killing is Easy

October 17, 2015

Death, whether by suicide or homicide, is too easy to accomplish with a gun. Even relatively stable people can make mistakes or be guided by impulse to do something that they regret forever after, or that their survivors regret forever.
I once had police confiscate a young woman’s gun. She had come to me for counseling after she almost killed herself earlier that day with a gun that was now in her car, outside. I promptly called police. The woman gave the officer permission to take the gun, and he talked with her until he was reassured that she had no idea of killing anyone else. The agency I worked for was not pleased that its image was tarnished by having a police car in the parking lot, but I am sure to this day that I did the right thing.
When NRA groupies say, “Guns don’t kill people; people kill people,” I say “Atomic bombs don’t kill people; people kill people, but would you want that weird guy down the street or that radical Muslim next door to own an atomic bomb?” The least a progressive society should do is to ensure, to the best of its ability, that only those who are not “crazy” or homicidal or suicidal own a gun or even many guns!
About those mass killings by deranged shooters. Here we enter sensitive territory, because three of those mass murderers were young men who had a history of mental illness or “emotional disturbance” and lived with their mothers. Did their mothers know they owned guns? If so, why in the world did they permit it? My guess is that either they refused to imagine that their sons were potential killers, or they were afraid to say no to gun ownership. But we don’t want to blame the parents of these young men. I have first-hand knowledge of how mind-bendingly difficult it is to live with a person who lives in an alternate (deranged) reality. But perhaps the groups that help these parents, such as NAMI, the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill, could educate family about the dangers of gun ownership.
And this, of course, leads to a discussion of mental illness and this country’s mental health system. Why is it incapable of protecting its citizens? Because mental health workers are hampered by overly-liberal mental health laws. Those laws protect every individual’s “civil liberties” or “constitutional rights,” even those who are potentially homicidal, which puts the collective majority (us) at risk.

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