Updated: Feb 17, 2018
Gun control. Gun reform. The way we phrase things has such an effect on how it is absorbed, received and responded to. The thing is, as soon as you mention gun control everyone goes running for the hills. Especially in the middle of Texas. Calm down, 2nd amendment-ters, no one is trying to take your guns. We know why guns are important in this country. There was a time when we had to literally fight for our freedom. We had to fight to be able to govern ourselves, and we did so by taking arms against the British. We emblazoned it in our constitution and swore to defend it with everything we had. Definitely when the aliens come, or the Russians, or the Mexicans- we will have our guns!
But, before we get to the meat of the problem, let's take a look at some facts. The United States of America has a little under 4 and a half percent of the population of the entire world. Somehow, we have still managed to amass over 40 percent of the world's privately own guns. This statistic does not take into account the weapons owned by military forces (just to be clear). It does not take into account weapons that are unreported or were brought in illegally, or those weapons in any other country in the survey (to be unbiased). According to Harvard School of Public Health's Injury Control Research Center, this is single reason that we have more gun violence. Perhaps a little rash?
According the the Human Development Index, the US has 29.7 deaths by firearm per million people. Compare that to just 7.7 in the second highest, Switzerland. Also important to note- these numbers include self-inflicted gun wounds (for both US and Switzerland). That means, when someone commits suicide by shooting themselves, they automatically get added to this number. This may seem like a huge discrepancy, but shouldn't the number be even more valuable when we consider these facts? Mental health in this country is so much worse than in any other country. And, let's be honest- that is just mental health that has been diagnosed or had some sort of dramatic, noticeable light-shedding. How is it that a person who has been in a psychiatric ward, has been seeing a doctor and has been under controlled medication for 10 years is more likely to be labelled as a threat to society than the random crazies that continue to fall through the cracks. We rip away funding for social workers at schools, we tell everyone to report neighbors who have changed their shopping patterns. Are you insane? The influx of phone calls that will flood police stations will only obscure true problems even more. Even the FBI did not find a lead when this child used his real name to post a school shooting threat 6 months ago. We are creating a witch hunt for the child who already struggles to make friends, to find common interests and is bullied and discriminated against. We are asking for a self-fulfilling prophecy. Mental health issues are not found in the boy all in black with black eyeliner reading his book at the school yard. They are invisible. Sometimes even to people trained to look for them. So if owning more guns than any other country and having more mental health issues are not to blame, what is?
I've heard it said that one-parent households are, or the lack of religious values, or parental guidance or simply-bad parenting. Well, have you ever heard of latchkey children? Generation Xers had the highest rates of being home alone- in fact, the majority of all households in the 50s had children between the ages of 5 and 13 that arrived home to an empty house, unlocked the door themselves (hence the term), and spent the rest of the afternoon unsupervised until a parent or both got home from work. Their parents also have the highest rates of divorce, and of secondary marriages.
The same people who hate war and don't trust the government gave birth to the children who were left unattended at home- yet they did not turn out to be radical murderous "lone-wolves"?
Additionally, the fact that Medicaid covers very limited forms of birth control (and not abortions or anything permanent) but continues to cover Viagra and Cialis are at the very core of the problem. If you haven't read my article about ways in which controlling population growth by allowing people to have full control of their reproductive futures would benefit society, you can do so here. You can't simply limit everyone's access to birth control, take away funding from schools (sometimes even going the route of celibacy programs!) and expect people to somehow become productive, educated and reasonable adults that are not having more babies than menstrual periods. So no, the argument that bad parenting is to blame for the repeatedly "random" acts of violence is not a viable one, and there are no short-term solutions to it. It must be addressed, yes, and it must start with education and immediate access to limiting births. If we start today, we would still be 15 years away from seeing a difference.
To recap- we have taken away education from our people, any sort of counselor they could have turned to as children to create the pattern of asking for help, limited their access to viable birth control, juice them up with erection-stumilating drugs for free, and given them the highest rate in gun ownership of the entire world.
It is literally easier in the state of Texas to get a gun than it is to get a driver's license. If I plowed my car directly into a busy McDonalds, I still wouldn't cause half the catastrophe of the Sandy Hook shooting. The fact that there is any debate at all about if a gun should be registered when sold to another person, is beyond me. If you give your friend a car, they get it changed into their name. Then they pay yearly to keep it registered. In fact, they even pay to get it inspected every year so that it is working properly and up to code. EVERY SINGLE YEAR. That is aside from having passed test on driving laws and proving you know how to drive a vehicle. Does it seem that unreasonable so ask for passing a test to buy a gun? Not just to carry it on your person- since we know the criminals are not asking for permission to do that regardless. Would it be that much harder for all of the card-carrying, NRA supporters to take their CHL course to buy a gun at all? To commit to reporting when it has passed ownership? It does not seem that unreasonable.
Gun control is not the dirty word. Mass murder is.
Gun reform is imperative. We have many issues, and they must all be addressed, but funding mental health access and changing the ease that people have to obtaining weapons is the only solution that provides immediate results. When there is a problem, you find every solution and you implement as many of them as can stand together at one time to fix it as fast and efficiently as possible. We can analyze the data later to really determine what made the big difference, but for right now, let's agree on that waiting just one more day to make sure our children come home safely from school is just too long of a wait.