Every day when you turn on your TV news, there’s a report about some senseless act of gun violence, be it in the inner city of Chicago, a movie theater in Louisiana or a delusional, crazy young man thinking he can spark the next race war in America.
That has left a lot of politicians and policymakers looking for solutions, especially on the gun-control front.
President Barack Obama expressed his views about guns to the BBC, the public broadcaster for Britain, a place where guns are illegal, last week.
“That is an area where I feel that I’ve been most frustrated and most stymied,” he said. “It is the fact that the United States of America is the one advanced nation on earth in which we do not have sufficient common-sense gun-safety laws. Even in the face of repeated mass killings.”
As long as there is a Second Amendment, there’s not going to be a whole lot of change when it comes to gun control. In fact, many such laws could eventually be weakened if challenged on constitutional grounds.
In a 5-4 ruling announced last month, the Supreme Court held that under the 14th Amendment, states must issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples and recognize same-sex unions that have been legally performed in other states. What’s to stop someone from using that same justification to challenge the gun regulations that vary from state to state?
The right to keep and bear arms is explicitly stated in the U.S. Constitution. Thus, a gun permit issued in Alabama would have to be recognized in California, the state with arguably the toughest gun-control laws.
Attacking the problem of gun violence isn’t going to be solved with gun-control legislation unless the Second Amendment is repealed.
It’s the mental health aspect that should be given some attention. We don’t have a gun problem in America so much as a problem with angry male loners.
In the 1970s, the American Civil Liberties Union spearheaded a well-intentioned effort to make it difficult to lock up mentally ill people against their will.
There was a time in America when it was a lot easier to get people like John Russell Houser, Dylann Roof, Jared Loughner and James Holmes locked up and put in a place where they couldn’t inflict bloodshed. It was the civil libertarians that got organized and made it more difficult for that.
That’s not to say they were completely wrong for making that a cause. But as long as there are obstacles that prevent someone from getting help, there are going to be those that slip through the cracks.
Another element involves how much the public is willing to spend on institutionalizing the mentally ill. The civil libertarian movement of that era had an unlikely ally. Republicans who had adopted the Reagan notion that government was not the solution, but part of the problem were looking to reduce government.
Housing the mentally ill at government institutions was expensive. Reducing the number of mentally ill housed in those facilities lowered costs. Thus this unlikely alliance between small-government conservatives and civil libertarians was formed, which brought us to where we are today.
American society is going to have to reexamine how we handle our mentally ill. That might mean rolling back some of the protections and increasing public investment.
The homeless situation alone is enough to show there are deficiencies in the U.S. mental health system. Walk around downtown Mobile where some of the homeless dwell and you can deduce it for yourself.
We made strides in almost every facet of medicine over the last several decades. Certainly we’re much further along in mental health than we were in the ‘60s, ‘70s and ‘80s. Yet, we are still applying 30- and 40-year-old policies when it comes to handling mental illness.
Like protecting against terrorism and other criminal activities, we have to find the right balance between preserving civil rights and taking the correct action for the sake of public safety.
Is the answer a mental aptitude test for acquiring a gun? What’s to stop a determined crazy person from obtaining one illegally and using it? Those are the hard questions for which we need answers in order to prevent another senseless act of gun violence.
Gun control, however, is not the solution. It would take an unlikely act of a constitutional amendment to achieve the type of gun control in the U.S. that would be required to stop these tragedies.
Congress can barely agree to pass spending bills to keep the government functioning. To the bleeding hearts on the left: Don’t get your hopes up that the Second Amendment will be abolished.
The type of “sufficient common-sense gun-safety laws” that our commander-in-chief desires aren’t going to happen. There will never be Draconian laws like Australia and the United Kingdom enacted here in the U.S.
We can rule out solving this by seeking out the instruments that enable these tragedies. Instead, it’s time to consider what compels people to take these actions.