Ed.: 110717 – Words: 2167 – Audio: N/A

To a point.

“This isn’t a guns situation. This is a mental health problem at the highest level. It’s a very, very sad event. A very, very sad event, but that’s the way I view it.”

 YES!!!

Ok.. time to qualify my veiled excitement.  I have made a couple past posts in my blog and replies on various blogs regarding my fervent opinion that we need to truly get busy trying working through our mental health epidemic (and yes, I mean EPIDEMIC.. I’m not just using that term loosely as if “this-is-what-I-believe-because-I-think-it’s-important” epidemic).  All you have to do is look around; everyone knows someone suffering from some mental health malady (uh… consider the current occupant of the White House).  Fortunately not everyone suffering like that is going to end up shooting up a church, shopping mall, or music festival (or end up as president).

Trump’s remark (above), while I agree with on the surface, I well understand it’s his way of sidestepping any talk about gun control (heavens, we don’t want to upset what little base he has left) and nothing will happen.

 

Hey, I Like The Second Amendment As Much As any Right Winger And Neo-Racist Militia Nutcase –

I’ve had tons of guns in my distant past (unemployment was hell; I needed money) and back in the 1970’s and 1980’s I was actually a member of the NRA.  I was good at trap shooting; I even experimented with various loads and I re-loaded shotgun, rifle, and pistol cartridges.  I knew every gun on the market, and every caliber and the history behind their development.  I miss those hobby days but it all had to wait as I raised my kids (me and my two boys would eventually go weekly trap shooting when they got old enough (my daughter didn’t take to it).  I mention all this simply to point out that I know about the Second Amendment because I’ve exercised that right far more than most people, even by today’s standards.  I didn’t buy a gun just to dry fire it at the TV set and think I had control of my future.  There was a time I lived and breathed this stuff.  In a way I wish I was still involved in the hobby.

 

BUT…. (and you knew there had to be A “BUT”)

  • At no time in my hobby years did I even ONCE think my gun ownership somehow kept alive the Second Amendment.. as if I was doing my thing to prevent the government from taking away all my guns or my right to own one… or that I was “defending” the Constitution.
  • At no time did I ever think I needed to own a gun in case I had to confront the government out on my front lawn.. or in some ridiculous “Red Dawn” scenario.
  • At no time did I ever fear gun controls as a threat to the Second Amendment.
  • At no time did I ever value the Second Amendment over the First Amendment.
  • At no time did I ever think that gun ownership defined me as an American… or even some fantasy-patriot.

Yet… being as old as I am now, I am actually considering getting a CCW permit.. and risk the possibility of carrying it somewhere that is illegal (like some government building, school zone, etc.), risk certainly a civil suit if I ever use the damn thing on some clown (if not a felony conviction for possibly using it incorrectly), and risk leaving the thing somewhere by mistake.  I could care less about self-preservation (I’m at that age) but I would carry to help others if necessary.  No.. I don’t have some Charles Bronson vigilante fantasy.  I suppose if anything you might call it a “white knight” thing… although I am fully aware if I took out the thing I’d likely get blown away first.  My only edge is I know how to aim and shoot and I can still recall my Air Force security police training.  At least I would die trying rather than just waiting for the bullet to the head… even if the chances are millions to one that I would ever be in a situation requiring me to use a weapon.  I carry industrial strength pepper spray that has a ten foot maximum effective range; maybe that’s all I need.  No one gets past that stuff and it’s legal in all states… and I can use that on any person I want (or other living things).  I’m almost god-like.

Ok… we are now 700+ words into this post and I’m not even on the topic.  Point being… any Second Amendment purists out there not agreeing with what I say, you at least know my opinion is not without experience in exercising that right.

 

“Guns Don’t Kill People; People Kill People.”

If any readers are like me in sharing the opinion that the “secret” to most of our nation’s mental illness woes is trying to work on a national mental health policy, then you likely believe in that above statement.  BUT.. again… let me qualify a bit of that with the idea that most certainly the availability of guns to those who are unable accept the responsibility of gun ownership is indeed a problem.  There HAS to be some control.  But here is the tricky part of engaging in mental health solutions, and even in controlling gun ownership to the point of regulating who can own a gun.  It’s all about either taking away someone’s individual Constitutional rights or regulating those rights… and it’s NOT only about the Second Amendment.

Let’s set aside the gun control aspect for a minute.  In assessing someone’s mental health capacity and trying to work out a national policy for addressing mental health.. at what point do we end up curtailing certain Constitutional rights on an individual?  Depending on the level of their illness who decides what is a matter of personal safety or public safety to restrict certain rights?  In fact, if a family member thinks they see you exhibiting some signs of having emotional issues… do they turn you in?  To whom?  And who judges/diagnoses your condition?  More to the point, who decides what you can and cannot do?  Who decides if you should be committed to a health facility when you don’t think you need one?  Who takes away your freedoms… your rights?  You can see that this is far more than just preserving rights for those Americans who are “healthy” and having an issue of government going too far on the Second Amendment.  It’s one thing to restrict convicted felons from owning firearms… but there’s a significant Constitutional line you draw in restricting someone with mental health problems, which exists in a multitude of degrees and levels, from exercising their Second Amendment rights.

 

“This is the price of freedom.” – Bill O’Reilly

I have often said this about the Second Amendment.  In fact, in one way or another you can assign ANY or our freedoms to the deaths of Americans.  I personally think O’Reilly is a Conservative ignoramus but no one cares about what I think because that’s not important.  He is reported to have blurted this out right after the Vegas shooting, likely trying to defend only the Second Amendment.  When I have said it I was trying to convey that some freedoms we are constantly paying for each day.  The high road of political theory the Founding Fathers took when they first established the Bill of Rights in 1789 never took into consideration future generations, their social mores, the scientific advances forcing a re-write of the rules of thought… because that was an impossible thing to predict.

 

Look Again At That Graphic At the Top, the Top Five Shootings –

Clear your mind for a moment and then think about what these figures tell you.

  • Well, yes, freedom has a price. (Sounds impersonal and dismissive to any sort of gun control, but it can also be the point from which we begin to think of ways to lower the “price”)
  • There is no rhyme or reason based on locations, demographics, or racial implications… other than they are all places where people gather; crowds.
  • No place, no locations, no communities, rural or urban, are insulated from this kind of violence. It literally can happen anywhere.
  • Terrorism is NOT our biggest threat; it’s “nutcases” (=mental health).
  • In all these venues, the victims were sitting ducks.
  • This is happening all the time now. If I don’t have/want a gun how do I defend myself, my family, and how do I fight back?

I am sure many people could add more perceptions… or different one’s altogether.  But here’s is one possible element some may think, but immediately suppress for guilt… “At least it’s not me.” (or some variation of it).  That leads me to the final thought of this post.

 

Why Don’t We Give A Damn?

I recently read about a study done after World War II regarding a human phenomenon during the Blitz… the bombing of England, specifically London, from 1940 – 1941.. about 8 months.  A Canadian psychologist from Cambridge, J.T. MacCurdy, studied the emotional reactions of people experiencing the routine bombings.  In the early days of the bombings the Churchill government was concerned that the result of intense long term bombing would force people to leave London, and many succumbing to emotional trauma from the experiences.  The obvious concern was that few people would be around for restoring critical utility services, emergency services, etc.  In fact, the mass exodus never occurred.  Initially it was attributed to the resolve of the British people.. the stiff upper lip determination to endure and fight back.  While that most assuredly had a role, a large part was also a “fearless apathy”.

In his research, MacCurdy split his “subjects” into three categories…  The first was everyone who was killed.  The second was everyone who experienced a “near miss”… and lived (they witnessed the horror up close and personal).  The third were those who were a “remote miss”; they heard the sirens and the noise, but were never in the target areas.  Obviously the dead are dead hence you can’t question them… but the fact they were dead had effects on the other two categories.  It was the ultimate end in being at the wrong spot at the wrong time.

The “near miss” folks were deeply impacted because they experienced nearly being hit.. nearly being killed.  The “remote miss” people… felt a measure of invincibility, even some level of excitement.  Keep in mind that the Blitz was sustained yet unpredictable bombing over 8 months and some 70 different occurrences.   People generally adapted in order to live and carry on and developed their own routines.  One of the quirky adaptations to those in the “near miss” category who were committed to stay for one reason or another in potential target areas often treated each day as if it were going to be their last, hence drinking, revelry, and sexual promiscuity between strangers became commonplace.

But the “remote miss” folks developed an apathy of the bombing elsewhere, that they were safe, hence the invincibility.  Translating MacCurdy’s research to today it’s easy to understand the sheer terror of these people who had a near miss from death in these acts of random violence; the people injured and traumatized.  But to the “remote miss”.. anywhere outside the random shooting event.. in other words, the vast majority of the country, there’s an apathy of “not me, that was them”.  We can sit back and afford to be appalled, pray for their well-being, but pretty much dismiss it all as “…there but for the grace of God..”

There’s an extension of this theory toward the strategic value in Muslim extremism in public bombings and the recent vehicle strikes.  The most affected are the “near miss”.. those there who saw and/or were injured.  But in all cases they are the vast minority.  The rest of the world is made up of “remote miss”, hence the effect of the terrorist strike has far less meaning and is easily dismissed in its importance.

 

Anyway…

Yes, it’s theory… but there is some truth because once the news cycle is over in a few days we easily compartmentalize into the “inactive file” of our minds… until the next mass shooting… and continuing on until one strikes a nerve.  One thing is for sure…. there’s more to come.. many more.  If this is the price of freedom, then the price is rising.  As long as the other person pays the price we are ok with it.

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