Gun control debate is a distraction from real solutions

Ron Webber /

Our country recently suffered another tragic mass shooting and our politicians continue to run around trying to look like they are doing something about it. The solution du jour seems to involve banning the so called “assault rifle” and/or high-capacity magazines. Remember the sixties, when they focused on small, concealable handguns, labeled them as “Saturday night specials,” and passed laws forcing manufacturers to make them bigger? Now I guess less is more.

The question of the day seems to be: Why would any civilian need a weapon of war? Meanwhile the Republicans and the Democrats continue fighting over the Second Amendment to the Constitution. Are we missing the point because we are obtuse or simply misinformed?

Consider the book or movie plot where a victim is being very slowly poisoned by a person he trusts. When the victim begins to question his symptoms, the assassin simply lies and blames some natural sickness or other cause while continuing to administer the poison. Without intervention the victim dies.

Our country is suffering slowly while being lied to and distracted. We have systematically pursued a policy of turning our mentally ill out into the streets, leaving them for their friends and families to deal with. Usually it is the mother doing most of the work and suffering as a result.

There are fewer beds available today for dangerous mentally ill persons and it has become very difficult to place them, against their will, even if a bed can be found. The only thing I find more cruel than leaving all of these dangerous sons free to kill their mothers is the lying and obfuscation being employed by various craven politicians today.

Most politicians know that gun control laws alone will not solve this, but they just don’t want to deal with the more difficult aspects of the problem so they say things like, “It might help.” This is more cruel than throwing water on a drowning man or continuing a course of poison while telling the victim you are trying to heal him.

If we took every gun from every citizen tomorrow we would still have a severe mental health problem and many very dangerous sons would continue to kill their mothers. Perhaps the politicians would then focus their blame on video games, or drugs, or Big Gulp sodas. Or maybe they would blame Hollywood for making the movie, “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” and causing people to hate mental institutions.

The blame game is so much easier than actually working to deal with complex issues.

While there is no single or simple solution to this problem, the issue that should top our list of things to examine should be the mental health policies of this country. We need to build more facilities, train more professionals and create a legal atmosphere that would allow us to institutionalize the most dangerous mentally ill citizens, even against their will, before they can do further harm to themselves or to others. Of course depriving any citizen of his freedom is a most serious matter and will certainly inflame groups like the ACLU, but something must be done before the patient dies.

Actually, I don’t hold out much hope. I expect we will probably follow the path most familiar and pass some sort of law banning some type of gun or ammunition magazine and then take solace in the notion that we have at least “done something.” Then, a few months later, some troubled young man will kill his mother and others with a gun we failed to ban or with some other deadly instrument, such as a cricket bat. We can then go back to arguing over bans and Band-Aids and lying to soothe our souls. Maybe someone will print T-shirts saying; “Cricket bats don’t kill people.” That should do it.