After the latest shootings in Texas, at the gun range, my only hope is that the discussion will finally turn from registration, magazine size, and other regulations aimed at the weapons, to the fact that it is mental instability that is the problem. Maybe then the focus can shift to where regulation may be able to do some good: methods of dealing with those people who need help in dealing with emotional or other issues.
There is not one aspect of the current or proposed legislation that could have prevented what happened in Texas. The only thing that might be able to is a comprehensive examination of the attitudes about mental and emotional sickness, and how we as a society deal with those who are unable to function in the mainstream.
I understand that mental illness advocates are concerned about stigmatization of those who are borderline cases; that they will be tarred with the same brush as those who are unable to control themselves at all. However, the balancing act that we have been doing so far doesn’t seem to be effective. In order to protect those who may have issues, we have been failing to protect complete innocents. There must be a better way.
And I’m not talking about background checks on all purchasers of weapons for the purpose of discovering those who have a history of mental illness; all those sorts of checks do is discourage people from getting help when they need it. I’m talking about a full-scale, all-out change in the way that we deal with mental illness from the get-go, along the lines of what happened when the mental institutions were shuttered in favor of medicating and mainstreaming the inmates.
I’m not saying that the solution is to toss all of those people who exhibit any signs of abnormalcy into a hole (we’d all be in trouble if that were the case). To tell the truth, I’m not sure what the ideal solution is. But it sure doesn’t seem to be arising from the current focus on the guns. At the very least, we ought to be re-directing the conversation to encompass the people who are using those weapons, and any weapons, for that matter, on other people.