I haven’t been sleeping well. All I can think of is the fear. Fear from those running for their lives. Not knowing where the bullets were raining down from. Not knowing who to trust. Not knowing where the exits were. Suddenly, I’m overcome with anguish. The lives lost. The injured. How will the survivors go on? How do they get overcome such a trauma? I wonder if they ever will.
As I was scrolling through my morning Twitter feed, I saw a tweet by Dinesh D’Souza which basically said, “…second amendment rights….like all basic rights, are not subject to negotiation.” I stopped. Between the last 48 hours of sadness, frustration, helplessness, confusion and anger, I knew I had to take a step back. Several hours later, I decided to write…
No one wants to take away guns ownership rights from those who are responsible owners. I believe in the 2nd amendment. I believe people have a right to protect themselves and their families. I believe that people have the right to hunt. I believe that our military deserves to have access to the best weapons needed to protect our country. Same with our police officers. But why is having a conversation about background checks at gun shows or online purchases, or dangerous assault rifles that can cause mass carnage so difficult for some? Why do some feel it’s “non-negotiable?”
Yes, it IS a 2nd amendment right but 1st amendment rights have limitations when they can inflict danger on others. I cannot falsely scream “Fire” in a crowded theater. And if that change to our 1st amendment can happen in 1919 (Schenck vs. US), why can’t we modify the 2nd amendment in 2017? I think we can ALL agree that no one wants another Columbine, VA Tech, Fort Hood, Sandy Hook, Orlando, San Bernadino, Aurora, Charleston, or Las Vegas.
If anyone in that concert crowd had their 2nd amendment protected gun with them, would they have been able to protect themselves? Or anyone else for that matter? The answer is a resounding, “No.”
So what do we do? Instead of having this difficult conversation, we automatically revert to a discussion about mental illness. People who live with mental health disorders are NOT dangerous. The data that backs this up is available everywhere on the internet. We’ve shared numerous times. Depression or anxiety does not cause someone to annihilate a crowd of concert goers or a nightclub full of people dancing. Mental health disorders and acts of hatred are not equal. Think about it. Women suffer from mental health disorders as much as men, if not more. How many of these shooters have been women?
Even with severe mental illness such as psychotic breaks, mania, and schizophrenia, the person MOST at risk for harm is the individual. Those in psychosis do not plan out elaborate schemes involving collecting an arsenal of weaponry, wiring $100,000 overseas, reserving the hotel room with the easiest access to inflict as much harm as possible. They are physically and MENTALLY incapable of doing this.
Well, what does all this mean? What does it mean for this never-ending debate of “mental illness vs. guns?” Perhaps it means we’re both wrong.
If everyone who had access to a gun was out committing mass murder, our population would be zero. If everyone who had mental illness was doing the same, again, population zero. Maybe we need to find a middle ground. Maybe we need to have advanced background checks and additional reporting like they do with large amounts of chemicals (remember Oklahoma City? Trying to buy large amounts of fertilizer will get you a call to the authorities.) Maybe those with known or suspected sociopath tendencies need to be reported and kept on a “watch list” like we do with other terrorists.
And what if all of these suggestions are followed and we still can’t stop it? Does this mean we always have to have that voice in the back of heads saying we now live in a shooter’s world? That the mall, the movie theater, the concert, the sports arena, the museum, the restaurant are no longer safe? I think about this and at the same time, try not to. Otherwise, I like all of you, will be paralyzed with fear.
I hope we find some answers and resolution soon. We can’t go on like this as a nation.