No, It’s Not Mental Health. It’s Really Guns. And Money.
Addiction is a mental illness, and when someone suffers from addiction, it’s not illogical to try to remove the drug to which the person is addicted while treating his or her addiction.
If someone is reportedly suicidal, we expect implements that could be used to harm him or herself to be removed from that person’s vicinity.
But in America, when someone is mentally ill, she or he still has virtually unfettered access to guns.
Why does our gun violence increase despite horrific mass shootings quickly becoming just another risk of living in America?
Why is it that mostly republican lawmakers do a Mexican hat dance while trotting out ridiculous fallacies about “mental health,” expressing through their “ thoughts and prayers” they are “ horrified and heartbroken “ every time someone mows people down with an AR-15?
Why does popular commonsense legislation to curb gun violence predictably always die in Congress?
Because in ‘Merica, the almighty U.S. Supreme Court has determined through several significant decisions that “ money is free speech” and “ corporations are people,” paving the way for the unlimited political bribery that has dominated our politics for the past four decades.
The United States does not hold a monopoly on mental illness.
Other countries have mentally ill people too, but no other country has our number of guns and gun deaths.
All countries the world over average 9.86 guns per 100 civilians.
Afghanistan and Iraq, around 20.
Uruguay and Canada are tied at 34.7.
South Africa, 9.7.
New Zealand, 26.3.
India, with a population far outpacing most countries, 5.3.
The United States?
120.5 guns per 100 people.
Tuesday, America witnessed yet another school shooting-the 27th in roughly 35 weeks of an average American school year.
To put that into perspective, Mexico, arguably one of the most dangerous countries on Earth, suffered eight school shootings.
Germany had one.
Every one of the these countries-as well as those not listed-have mentally ill citizens.
What they don’t have is a population awash in guns.
Guns do not outnumber people as they do here.
In addition to the Supreme Court decisions’ role in republican lawmakers’ financial windfalls from their friends in the gun industry, we can lay a lot of the blame for the ubiquity of assault rifles on former president George W. Bush.
In 2004, the Public Safety and Recreational Firearms Use Protection Act, aka the Federal Assault Weapons Ban, was set to expire after being on books for a decade.
Under that Clinton-era law, the federal criminal code was changed “ to prohibit the manufacture, transfer, or possession of a semiautomatic assault weapon.”
It banned more than a dozen specific firearms (not all) and certain forearm capabilities.
It banned the “transfer or possession” of large-capacity ammunition weapons able to hold more than 10 bullets. While there were exceptions, weapons not excluded would still be treated as firearms.
There was a glaring loophole in that owning or selling prohibited firearms or magazines before the law was signed were not retroactively considered illegal.
Nevertheless, under this law, mass shootings declined 43%.
President Bush had the opportunity to recertify it in 2004.
He failed to do that.
The immediate impact was a tripling in mass shootings.
Mass shootings will not end in the United States of America unless we pass comprehensive gun control legislation that includes tightening and re-signing the Assault Weapons Ban, passing national universal background checks, and requiring prospective gun owners to undergo training and certification that includes viewing images of the damage guns do.
We need to treat owning guns like owning cars.
From manufacture to destruction, cars are required to maintain chains of ownership through titles.
That way state DMVs and law enforcement agencies know from year to year who owns the vehicles should they be involved in accidents or crimes.
While vehicles have the potential to kill people, killing is not their reason to existence.
But it is the reason guns exist.
We insure vehicles to protect ourselves and others in the event they are involved in accidents.
But we aren’t required to insure guns.
We require drivers’ licenses to prove proficiency.
But we don’t with guns.
As progressive radio personality and author Thom Hartmann wrote:
“When you buy a gun, it gets registered with the state. Every year that registration is renewed for a small fee that covers the expenses to the state of gun injuries, gun suicides and homicides. If you lose or sell that gun, just like if your car gets stolen or sold, you immediately notify the state. Having or using a gun that is unregistered would be just as much an offense as trying to drive an unregistered car on the freeway.
“State DMV’s could easily expand their services to include a written test and a shooting range, so people who want to become gun owners can demonstrate that they understand the laws in the state, common-sense gun ownership practices, and have a level of proficiency that makes it far less likely they will accidentally kill themselves or others.
“This could even be a revenue source for the states, and while a gun shop could sell you a gun without a shooter’s license, they wouldn’t let you leave the premises with it until you get your license.”
“Free-market” libertarians and republicans should love this since “it would create a whole new marketplace for the insurance industry, which has done very, very well over the years with car insurance.”
Originally published at https://theleftplace.substack.com on May 28, 2022.