(Substituting for Susan Kelly)
Okay, we have another month mugged with another mass shooting, this time at Umpqua Community College in Oregon. How many times can we as a society feign shock or surprise? Since the 2012 tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, there have been 142 school shootings in the United States. That’s an average of almost one school shooting per week. To be fair, there is some disagreement about the specific number, but there is absolutely no argument about the FBI’s conclusion that there’s been a “sharp rise” in mass shootings since 2000 through 2013.
Let’s be honest. The numbers just confirm what we already knew and the tired old gun control arguments once again have hit the fan.
On one side stand those who argue that “guns don’t kill, people do.” Many “anti-gun control” advocates add that the real issue is the mental health of the person(s) who pull the trigger. Problem is, our political representatives have been unwilling to adequately fund mental health programs. In fact, though most Americans believe mental and physical health are equally important, about one-third of those surveyed see mental health care as inaccessible, and 40 percent see cost as a barrier to treatment—according to a new survey released in September.
Worse, many states have been slashing funds. Between 2009 and 2012, states cut a total of $4.35 billion in public mental-health spending from their budgets. So, if those who truly believe it’s all about mental health really want to reduce the slaughter, put your fucking money where your mouth is. How about instead of signs and politicians screaming, “No New Taxes,” we increase our social service spending? I’m sure there is a Republican candidate for president who’ll support significant funding for mental health, right?
Because they sure won’t support any rational regulations regarding gun control. Again, to be fair and balanced, George Pataki not only supports it but, as governor of New York, also passed what was, according to the New York Times, the strictest gun control legislation in the country at that time.
All those who believe Governor Pataki has a legitimate chance at winning the Republican nomination, please raise your hand.
But there’s no reason to stop with Republicans. Before the Brady bill was finally signed into law in November 1993, Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders voted against it. Moreover, in both 2003 and 2005, when he was in the House, Sanders voted in favor of a measure to prohibit lawsuits against firearm makers, though after last week’s shooting in Oregon, he did call for “sensible” gun control laws. (Whatever he meant by that.)
But in all honesty: “A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that just 34% of Likely U.S. Voters believe laws regarding the ownership of guns should be the responsibility of the federal government.” Says something about the nature of the American beast. Especially in the face of:
We have little or no qualms about passing laws that have evolved into frontal assaults on the rest of our liberties in the name of the “War on Terror.” Is it my eyesight or is something is wrong with this picture?
And how about this picture? America has 4.4% of the world’s population, but almost 50% of the civilian-owned guns around the world.
Of course the gun didn’t pull its own trigger in Oregon. The fucker that did, however, allegedly owned a large number of firearms. Now, I happen to believe in people’s right to bear arms, but I also believe in laws that are as least as reasonable as the ones that regulate car ownership:
- Point of sale background checks in real time for each and every purchase and those checks include sales at gun shows, mail orders, and the elimination of any “secondary” market that cannot or will not adhere to all these reforms. That is, individuals who sell guns to another person without that person’s compliance with licensing laws.
- A seven day wait for each and every purchase to receive a firearm for all purchasers regardless of a clean background check.
- Passing a gun safety test before the purchase of any firearm.
- Passing a marksmanship test before the purchase of any firearm.
- Passing a psychological exam before the purchase of any firearm.
- Serious prison time for “straws.” (Those who are qualified to purchase guns and do so for another who may or not be qualified.)
- Strict regulation of firearm production. Production not to exceed legal licensees plus some small percentage above, along with lifting the prohibition of lawsuits against manufacturers who, in fact, overproduce.
- Mandatory liability insurance to cover all accidental and purposeful shooting incidents. No insurance, no permit. Period.
Ahhh, but here’s the rub. I’ll be dead and buried before any of the above come to pass—if ever. And by any, I’m talking about the increase needed in mental health funding and accessibility along with reasonable gun regulations. Our society is sliding into social psychosis and fast approaching the point of no return–but Americans just don’t seem to care.
Yes, there are some voices howling against the madness, but sadly, they are few and far between.
To mourn those who have fallen victim to our collective insanity and inaction, the following is a list of just the school shootings since the Sandy Hook massacre.