After the weekend shootings in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio, one must consider how these individuals acquired guns. While everyone’s attention was focused on the killings in Texas and Ohio, the scrutiny was off of Chicago, where 10 persons were shot and one died over the weekend. Chicago has been and continues to be one of the most violent cities in the nation.
It’s difficult to comprehend how the national media has myopia when there’s carnage on the streets in states that were in the Republican column in 2016, but the slaughter on a daily basis in a deep blue state like Illinois is virtually ignored. Keep in mind that Illinois, Chicago in particular, has some of the nation’s strictest gun laws.
More gun laws, especially those that would infringe on the rights of law-abiding gun owners, is not the answer. If strict gun laws were the answer, then Chicago would be one of the safest places in the United States.
In each of the weekend shootings, the gunmen were either angry at life or had published a manifesto declaring hostility at everyone around him.
Only a few commenting on weekend news-talk shows bothered to address a real problem in most, if not all mass killings: mental illness. Mental illness has gripped this nation, and is more polarized than at any time since the Civil War. Mental illness treatment, not more gun control is needed in this nation of 340 million citizens. It’s no longer expedient to gloss over this pandemic problem facing our nation.
It’s easy after such shootings to point the finger at legal gun owners. Those of us who own guns and have subjected ourselves to background checks have answered the question under 11.f, which asks: “have you ever been adjudicated as a mental defective OR have you ever been committed to a mental institution?”
First, the question is naive. Who is going to answer “yes” to this question, when the U.S. Department of Justice-Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives does this tertiary check of one’s background?
Second, if one lies on the form, does the ATFE conduct a thorough check of the person’s political, emotional, web sites, behavior or complaints lodged against him or her? Most background checks are via phone or computer. While technology is fast these days, does the background check investigate critical mental health windows into one’s life? Doubtful.
While an extensive background check may take a bit longer, keep in mind that the media had checked the mental state of both killers within minutes of airing the first reports of each tragedy.
Please keep in mind, I am not advocating gun control. Chicago has proven that more laws prohibiting lawful gun ownership does not curtail crime on the streets.
Chicago, and other metropolitan cities like it, have gangs roaming the streets with guns that have either been stolen or purchased on the black market. That’s a whole different problem that has to be addressed by the leaders of those cities that continue to rail against police and coddle the criminal elements out of fear of retaliation.
Address the mental illness epidemic that has gripped many in our society. It’s no longer a matter of choice, but a principle of survival. Too many are slipping through the cracks. Too many suffer from mental illness and society has, in the past, scoffed at or ostracized these human beings.
Think back to every mass shooting since 1960. Each killer or killers had signs of mental illness. Sandy Hook, Columbine, Homestead, Dayton, and El Paso—
it’s time to reach out and offer help to these people before they lash out in violence, killing more innocents.