I read somewhere that this year (and 2015 is not over yet) there have been more violent attacks in the United States than days in the year. This saddens me deeply. As a force to be reckoned with, the United States, has a huge flaw… we are violence happy. Regardless if you are Republican or Democrat, Tea Party or all for Han Solo & Chewy for President, we all as a people do agree there is something wrong.
Where we differ is the reasoning. The Democrats are pushing hard for more gun control laws while the Republicans are lobbying for stricter Mental Health Screenings. I am not one to discuss my political point of view or religion as I love all my friends and do not judge them nor do I want to be judged. We are all entitled to our views. With the recent event in San Bernardino, CA, I have to voice an opinion… an opinion from someone who is Mentally Ill, someone who if stricter screenings were enforced, would definitely be on the “Dude, She Crazy, No Gun Purchases For Her” List.
I hate guns. I do agree with the constitution though, that guns should be allowed to be purchased to protect yourself and your family. While it is a well-known fact that people usually wind up shooting people they know, by accident, there are many instances where they have helped to protect people. I will stand behind our constitutional right to bear arms, but my arms will not bear any guns even if Mental Health screenings came to pass. That’s just me. When the 2nd Amendment was written, these colonial men were not arming themselves with semi-automatics that could shoot off hundreds of bullets within seconds, they were holding muskets that took minutes to load. 5 minutes… 5 minutes was all it took at Sandy Hook. 5 minutes led to the deaths of 20 children and 6 adults. All innocent people. That type of gun, semi-automatic, I feel should not be in the hands of the general public.
Would it be any different if there were Mental Health screenings? How would the government be able to enforce them? If you go in to see a therapist or psychiatrist once are you automatically put on a “No Gun Purchase” list? Where is the cutoff? I suppose this is why the screenings have not been enforced yet. With my history… several diagnosis’… Major Depressive Disorder, Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Mild PTSD… I am sure red flags, sirens and alarms would be blaring with my name but…
I would never hurt anyone. With all my manic episodes the only person I ever desired to hurt was myself. It was me who was going through major mental pain and anguish. Me who suffered while wearing a happy face. Just me. But, I’ve been diagnosed. I sought out help. I am on medication and take them daily. I am not trying to hide that I am different and messed up. My ego is not so enormous that I don’t believe Mental Illness can happen to me. Maybe this is the difference. So, do we clear all those who are seeking help and actively taking their medication from this “No Gun Purchase” List? Do we only ban those that are diagnosed but refuse care? What about those that aren’t diagnosed?
It is also a proven fact that those with Mental Illness are more likely to be the victims of violent acts. This is in a past blog post I wrote What Mental Illness Truly Looks Like. Then why the huge fear of the Mentally Ill? Is it because there is still so much the general public does not understand about Mental Illnesses? Is it because the media and the politicians need some group of people to blame… after all, who would shoot up a building of people but those that are “crazy”? The problem is, and what most people in this country do, is we will blame a whole community of people for a few acts carried out by those people… The Japanese in WWII (yes today is the anniversary of them bombing Pearl Harbor) but we did not need to react like the Germans did and place them in concentration camps… The Islamic people. Their whole community is to blame for one tiny sect… And now, the Mentally Ill. Just because we are different and our illnesses are strange and unknown to most doesn’t mean we all possess the nature to perform a mass massacre.
Yesterday, while reading the Sunday paper, I came across a letter to the editor on the “real” problem… change of heart. It was actually a very interesting read. It was written by a pastor, Ken Brooks, who notes that if you “go back as far as you wish in human history… you will find murder.” He also states, “It’s not the guns. It’s not the weapons. Man doesn’t need a weapon: The hand alone can kill.” Change of heart? How does one institute that? How do we turn the evil in this world, or in ourselves, to compassion?
Anyway you look at it, there is no simple solution. Make stricter gun laws… people will go underground to buy guns. Increase Mental Screening… you will have a group of people who will fear getting help for being labeled and put on a “No Gun Purchase” list, a stigma that will never go away. Grow compassion… there is no way of achieving this for everyone. With all this being said, we do need a change. We are the only first world country that sees violence as our only answer on everything, even the smallest acts of crime.