Tag Archives: weapons

Bang, Bang

I was reading The Economist a few days ago (this is actually a longer process than it takes for the next issue to arrive, so I’m always behind, and usually end up not making it all the way to the latest doings in Zimbabwe), and saw an interesting juxtaposition of articles. The first was (of course) bemoaning the cowboy mentality of Americans who will simply insist on owning guns.

The second was how awful and dire things are in Syria these days. The second article did not mention the first, and the first took no notice of the second. It is, of course, possible that the writers are so busy penning their missives that they don’t have the time to check out all of the other submissions each week, but come on, now, really. Proofreading really ought to be something more than checking for misspelled words. Ideas put out by the editors of a publication ought to have some sense of cohesiveness, as well.

At least the author of the anti-NRA article has finally gotten past the conceit that it is hunters with lousy aim who greatly desire the ability to bring down Bambi with their AK-47 wanna-be’s. At least, the current supposed rationale for owning weapons is now self-defense against the bad guys roaming the streets and occasionally investing in a random home invasion or two.

But the citizenry arming themselves against their government? That is still as outré as it gets. (Flip forward 15 pages to the rebels in Syria, who everyone agrees should be armed to the teeth). So far, since no one has even deigned to address the issue, no one has satisfactorily explained to me why Americans need never fear that their government may one day become too overbearing (after all, isn’t that how we were born in the first place?) When the issue is raised by some gun-totin,’ lip-smackin’ gob-stopper of a redneck, the inevitable response is derisive laughter.

I’m all for a good laugh myself, but derision does not, in the end analysis, a cogent argument make. I’m all ears, here. Would someone please explain to me, in plain English of three or fewer syllables, why it is that Americans, of all people on the planet, need not fear that their government will ever get too big for its britches? Because it sure seems headed in that general direction already, what with the “We must do something” mentality that is so prevalent today.

Those people advocating for background checks are side-stepping the fact that background checks would have had no effect on the latest round of shootings that this country has had to endure. All that background checks do is keep criminals out of gun shops—and I’ll just bet that most criminals don’t get their weapons by going through proper channels, anyway. Hence the appellation. If you’re going to use a weapon to commit a crime, why in the world would you go out of your way to make sure that the purchase of that weapon has been properly documented? And if you think that background checks keep weapons out of the hands of criminals, just what, exactly, is your take on the latest statistics on illegal drug use?

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Filed under Critical Thinking, Politics

Whither now, gun control?

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.

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Filed under Critical Thinking