We hear a lot of big talk from politicians – Democrat and Republican alike – whenever a mass-tragedy like Sandy Hook, San Bernardino or the Orlando Pulse massacres occur in our country.
Blame shifts rapidly from headline to headline; religion, terror, gun laws, fundamentalism, mental health, radical nationalism or just unadulterated evil are lamented as culprits. Calls for action from Congress are fast and loud with promises of determination, resolve and justice.
Foundations form that leverage the faces and stories of victims taken. Charities and walks and similarly-symbolic exercises aid in the process while families lay their loved ones to rest and communities begin the slow, hard process of healing.
Urges to “pray for [insert victim group here]” spread like heaven-sent wildfire across all media channels while pundits attempt to rationalize the root cause of self-inflicted violence against some of our most vulnerable centers of society.
At face value, these seemingly earnest pleas to our most basic instincts of protection and self-preservation tend to echo our own heartfelt sentiments in these all-too-common times of sorrow and self reflection.
But when the same politicos that vowed to protect and defend the innocent from harm also collude to willfully render them vulnerable to further violence, their otherwise seemingly genuine concern may as well be another round in the barrel.
Almost anyone can have a gun
As a direct response to the 2012 Sandy Hook shooting – in which a mentally ill gunman took the lives of 20 children and six adults at a Connecticut elementary school – then President Barack Obama introduced legislation that would require the Social Security Administration to submit names of beneficiaries with mental impairments to a federal background check system in order to block said patients’ legal access to firearms.
Sounds reasonable, right? Not according to several primarily Republican lawmakers’ groups.
Under the advisement of the National Rifle Association, the regulation has since been opposed. And, with a Republican majority alongside President Trump, a recent vote this month blocked the Obama legislation that would limit some 75,000 mentally ill patients from access to firearms.
Sen. Charles Grassley (R-IOWA) – who was at the helm of the repeal effort – cited the “unfair” stigmatization of disabled people and the rule’s apparent infringement on their right to bear arms.
“If a specific individual is likely to be violent due to the nature of their mental illness, then the government should have to prove it,” Grassley said.
By Grassley’s rationale, a mentally ill person – regardless of the severity of their diagnosis or their independent standing in society – should have uninhibited access to deadly weapons until if and only when they are proven dangerous, despite their diagnosis. Which – as you would be correct to summize – would undoubtedly be after committing a violent act in which innocent people are hurt or killed.
This egregious reasoning not only puts every man, woman and child at risk but also works to strengthen numbers within the gun lobby. As more purchasing power is substantiated, gun control detractors only arm themselves further.
According to Dan Gross, president of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, the effort to reverse Obama’s effort is “really about deepening the gun industry’s customer pool, at the expense of those in danger of hurting themselves or others.”
Trump on the wrong side of history…again
Since his campaign, Donald Trump has taken the side of the majority of his pro-gun electorate when it comes to gun control or rather the lack of. According to one debate answer, the president referred to the Second Amendment as being “under siege”.
“We need a Supreme Court that in my opinion is going to uphold the Second Amendment, and all amendments, but the Second Amendment, which is under absolute siege,” he said. “I believe if my opponent should win this race, which I truly don’t think will happen, we will have a Second Amendment which will be a very, very small replica of what it is right now. But I feel that it’s absolutely important that we uphold, because of the fact that it is under such trauma.”
In an earlier 2015 GOP debate, he ridiculed the notion of “gun free zones” as “target practice for sickos”.
“The gun-free zones are target practice for the sickos and for the mentally ill,” he said. “They look for gun-free zones…I think gun-free zones are a catastrophe. They’re a feeding frenzy for sick people.”
Similarly, the president also takes the “good guys with guns stop bad guys with guns” approach.
Regarding the San Bernardino shooting, Trump asserted: “If we had guns in California on the other side where the bullets went in the different direction, you wouldn’t have 14 or 15 people dead right now. If even in Paris, if they had guns on the other side, going in the opposite direction, you wouldn’t have 130 people plus dead.”
Conversely, Trump has also seemed to agree that mental health is in fact a determining factor in the fight against gun violence:
“We have a huge mental health problem in this country. We’re closing hospitals, we’re closing wards, we’re closing so many because the states want to save money. We have to get back into looking at what’s causing it. The guns don’t pull the trigger. It’s the people that pull the trigger and we have to find out what is going on. You get the Congress. You get the Senate. You get together. You do legislation.”
You get the Congress. You get the Senate. You get together. You do legislation.
It seems fairly simple, really, to just “do legislation” that would target improving mental health care, practices and monitoring in favor of limiting gun violence in our country, right?
Despite the issues’ vast complexity, Trump played to his base by dumbing down the specifics in favor of winning votes via talking points and the this is all too easy it’s stupid approach. Then, when the most recent gathering of the minds and its “legislation” sought the exact opposite – to further enable the mentally impaired robust access to firearms – his electorate simply looks the other way.
It is painful to think of the next violent act – the next mass shooting – and the lives and families it will tear asunder. Will it be a school? A daycare center? An office building? A church or mosque? A factory? A playground?
We can only hope that the people in this country remain vigilant enough to recognize the culprits; not just the one with the smoking gun, but the villains that put them in their hands.Click here for reuse options!
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