True, common sense gun legislation like that proposed by democrats over the years, universal background checks extending to gun shows and internet sales, closing of any and all loopholes that could possibly allow persons with extensive criminal records or long mental health histories to legally access firearms, with which a majority of Americans agree and most thought we already had, could potentially curb some violent acts. True, common sense gun regulation stipulating military grade assault rifles, rapid fire machine guns, other warzone type materials don’t belong in civilian hands rather in the hands of trained soldiers sounds great on paper, like a real deterrent, measure to ending violence, as does limiting clip sizes, ammo batch numbers sold to the public; after all you don’t need 60 and 100 rounds of something literally designed to shred flesh, human or animal, just to go hunting, participate in sports shooting. True, 2nd amendment zealots convinced any attempt to restrict gun purchase, sale, legitimate manufacture is suddenly taking our rights, granted by the constitution, away, is a step toward tyranny, specifically governmental tyranny they feel they are subjected to too much as it is, are unquestionably fanatics and wholly wrong on the issue; firstly owing to the rest of the bear arms statement in that amendment talking about forming militias and arming them for defense of country, not just personal wish to own a gun, many of them. Nor are we discussing the odd hunting rifle or two used by persons, as they were in the founding days of our nation to put food on your table, fend off wild animals from your homestead or those today obsessed with that 30 point buck. Also true, the NRA remains an entirely too powerful political lobbying organization machine undeniably, actively hampering meaningful progress on gun legislation in an area where opponents believe every little bit helps; more importantly done so with increasingly outrageous examples purportedly showcasing the positives of guns in society co-opting many second amendment supporters overselling the ‘the only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun’ theory, never focusing on preventing that bad guy from getting a gun at all. Concurrently crafting growingly outlandish excuses meant to shift blame, take the heat off of the NRA and their largely no longer applicable stances connecting violence across the country, across society to a saturation of violence on television, in movies, music lyrics, the now decades old stop gap, video games an easy target for why youth bring guns to school killing classmates; latching on to innumerable copy cats to famous shooters, persons reported to have been fascinated with, idolized former shooters before committing their act as reason to ignore the NRA’s consistent, stubborn unwillingness to acknowledge how they contribute to the problem, telling us to deal with those first, instead. Certainly true too, a president’s job at times is to stand up and console the American people, commiserate with the grief, confusion and anger generated by a tragedy and reassure their people everything that can be done will be done to prevent whatever it was from happening again, and president Obama’s gun control efforts in the wake of repeated shootings throughout his presidency couldn’t be more laudable. But equally true, laudable doesn’t translate into the right to perpetuate the unfortunately false idea all we need to do is pass these laws and nothing like this will ever happen in the future; here Trump and Bush are both correct, things will always happen, a significant portion of them bad, our immediate instinct is reactionary, to do something, anything thought to lessen the chances of whatever horror ever darkening our national door again, little put into the question is it the right thing? Trump talking about the one thing that routinely gets missed in these post-shooting debates, echoing what I have said for years, it’s not about guns, it’s a plain issue of mental health; where he went wrong, tying pleas for gun control, the president’s obvious frustration incidents like this keep happening, he keeps holding press conferences but the legislative needle never moves on common sense gun measures, to the concept his view is another example of 21st century over political correctness where you can’t tell the truth, that violence will always be with us, gun violence will always be with us, the way to stem violence isn’t as simple as removing a huge percentage of guns, types of guns, alleging the president is selling a utopia we can never achieve, though left wing gun control advocates might be. Trump’s mistake was lumping mental health in with his belief in the redundant NRA propaganda about good people with guns suggesting an armed teacher could have stopped what happened at Umpqua community college, simultaneously calling shooters sick but geniuses in a certain way.
Throwing another law at it, a series of laws, isn’t going to fix it especially if those laws only center on restricting who has access to guns, limiting ammo in clips sold to the public, coming down on gun sellers suddenly suing them if you get shot with a gun, if a criminal, violent person takes the gun they bought legally and commits murder, mass murder, laws aimed at holding gun manufactures responsible for such instances, because they dared make, sold an assault rifle, a civilian version of military firearms to a gun enthusiast, to someone who did pass a mandatory background check. That Jeb Bush realizes this doesn’t make him the flippant, low energy candidate owing to the beginning of his comment being ‘stuff happens’ coupled with the rest of what he said; it makes him intelligent, at least in as much as understanding what the problem is not, what the solution is not. Background checks contrary to ‘left wing, liberal,’ and when did that become such a bad thing, political focus, are not the Holy Grail to ending gun violence, the subset of gun violence labeled mass shooter; remember a glitch in the FBI background check system along with a clerical error left Dylan Roof on the all-clear list to legally buy a gun even though he had been arrested admitting drugs found on his person were indeed his, actually disqualifying him. The latest case demonstrating how broken our background check system is on top of incomplete, the large turnaround time in receiving updates to said system, who could slip through the cracks in the intervening days, weeks, possibly even months considering the horrendous backlog also present in that system. Now they want tougher background checks, translation to add more people to the list of persons unable to buy guns for various reasons before first saying a single word about shoring up that system, fixing its known problems, addressing the fragmentation, no fly list and other watch lists in a completely different database; not one word said about centralizing our arrest record system across the nation so, city, county, state or federal, everyone local sheriff to court judge can see the entirety of a person’s criminal history rather than just their criminal history in your state. Facts preventing scenarios like 4 cops killed in a diner by a recently released person who’d served time for a violent crime, who was given bail on a minor offense in one state then landed there, a completely different state, to kill law enforcement minding their own business; had the judge presiding over the minor offense hearing known his history, he at the very least would have been obligated to deny him bail, potentially sent him directly back to prison since he was released early. Facts that would have doubtlessly led to the navy yard shooter either being incarcerated, incarcerated longer or getting help when prosecutors, attorneys, judges down to arresting officer law enforcement could see someone in escalating trouble, see clear signs of psychological disturbance; simply forwarding his last run-in with police’s report before the attack, as was procedure, would have barred him from the yard, saving the lives of individuals where he worked in conjunction with a basic, mandatory bag check on the grounds of a facility as important as a navy yard. Notice emerging information indicates all guns in the home of Christopher Shawn Harper-Mercer, the troubled man responsible for the carnage at Umpqua were not registered solely to him; the 8 others not used to commit the shooting were reportedly registered to his mother. Like Dylan Roof and Adam Lanza before him, he had no reason to buy a gun legally or illegally, when he could easily take one from his own residence. Roof was given a gun on his 21st birthday as a gift regardless of if he bought the one he brought into Emanuel AME church, Lanza’s home, similar to Mercer’s was awash with guns. But, announcing that as the chief problem, ‘extreme gun nuts and equally irresponsible parents’ only tells half the story; because, the Oklahoma mall shooter, though he had moderate behavior problems, gave no signs he would engage in something so drastic giving his family no reason to rethink their gun cabinet he ultimately stole from to go on his rampage. Neither did the grandparents of the Jonesboro shooters possess the faintest clue their grandchildren would steal their rifles much less open fire on their school; remember Columbine shooters obtained their guns not merely through an unscrupulous gun seller, who are, by the by, a dime a dozen, but an intermediary, a friend willing to buy them for them, oh. Dido with the utterly ineffective notion of regulating American gun sales done via the internet, blaming Anders Breivik’s ability to kill so many Norway students in a rare incident there on the size of clip he was able to purchase from an American gun seller, manufacture; forgetting the internet is a virtual no man’s land impossible to monitor on the scale required, there is then the deep web, the dark side of the internet known largely only to hackers, criminals, buyers and sellers of illegal goods, a deep web if you travel in the right circles, keep talking to the right people they would be more than happy to introduce you to. Additionally, astoundingly short memories are hardly new in politicians wherever they fall on the gun debate, whether they have a coherent plan to curtail, end mass shootings, so unsurprisingly they forget things besides ‘the gun’ used in mass shooter plots, bought on the internet or no, the pipe bombs planted throughout Columbine high school never detonated, the explosives rigged in James Holmes’ apartment, the smoke grenades aiding in confusion in that darkened theater, or how easy it would be for sellers to move their operation to a foreign, never heard of it counties IP address circumventing any law enacted for American, western world cooperating chemical manufactures, dealers, gun makers, sellers putting merchandise online, sobering truths that should have long ago moved us beyond the gun.
Facing these realities, what laws, political, governmental actions can assist in stopping this specific type of violence; let’s start with president Obama, change advocating politicians standing up and naming the larger problem for what it is mental illness. Moving away from gun control, assault weapons bans, haggling over clip sizes, ammo counts, arguments against civilian imitations of military fire arms, materials, the rights of the second amendment going absolutely nowhere in the current climate, no matter how much some think it should and lasering our focus on the forgotten component, mental illness. When if handled on the national scale it needs to be, we won’t need to worry as intensively about the rest. They can start by renewing the Mental Health Services Act providing government funding to states for maintaining mental health services, facilities if candidate Hillary Clinton wants to really do something, throw down the gauntlet, promising to do things by executive order if necessary, should she be elected to office. A mental health act revoked by, seeing a pattern yet, republican darling Ronald Reagan circa the 1980’s opting instead for ‘care in the community;’ care the community can no longer provide, a mindset preventing substantial diagnosis and treatment. Speaking of which, Obama care is the president’s signature legislation; how much of the added parameters dictating procedures and care standard insurance packages must now cover at no added cost to the user, had anything to do with diagnosis, treatment of mental illness, centered on assessing, maintaining good mental health the same way we dole out preventative physical care, quit smoking tools, cholesterol monitoring, blood pressure guidelines, salt intake recommendations? Candidate Hilary Clinton has proposed tweaks to Obama care; why isn’t this one of them? Identical to defragmenting the background check system, it is time to end fragmentation of mental health services like those in the Sandy Hook report after Newtown exposing disjointed agencies hindering multi approach treatment, centralized care, bureaucracies that gave us Adam Lanza. Post the Roseburg Oregon shooting, Jon Lapook, CBS News chief medical correspondent, spoke to their Scott Pelley about pilot programs training school counselors and local pediatricians to identify mental illness then refer to child psychiatrists ending barriers to care, long waiting periods constituting a bottleneck, a system that must be set up nationwide as close to immediately as we can get. Post uniforming mental health to something much more functional, unifroming, from the top down federal to city, statues regarding those unable to buy guns due to mental illness; wording verbatim to the federal guideline, no nuances, no uniqueness, same thing with privacy laws and knowledge of how to apply them. Two things that would have better ensured Seung Cho never was able to legally purchase a gun citing the results of his 2005 psych eval and that he did not remain on Virginia Tech’s campus with a long history of frightening students and staff. Relatedly, granting access of patient medical records, even juvenile psych forms, to current mental health providers and/or judges determining competency, deciding if a person should be released on their own recognizance when an eval, like the one Cho underwent, shows problems mandating treatment. Because had the judge known of Cho’s history of therapy, selective mutism, special education services until his last year of high school, further convincing evidence alongside looking at violent writing samples, reading accounts of worried students, teachers and the expert opinion of mental health professionals, he might have seen a person relapsing, deterioration surpassing his previous problems indicating the best course of action was to commit him, at minimum in the short term; he might have even been shrewd enough to understand he was encountering a potential school shooter and it was thus better to be safe than sorry rather than order outpatient care, care Cho never sought. Following that premise, where was the subsequent prosecution of Arizona law enforcement who had numerous run-ins with Jared Loughner, had the presence of mind to bring extra officers to his home when informing him he could not return to school until submitting to a psych exam but didn’t use their extended authority there to remit him to a 72 hour psych hold? Why did James Holmes’ psychiatrist stop at calling his mother, alerting the school’s threat assessment team, but never law enforcement, especially after he dropped out of school; why was neither she nor the school ever held partially accountable for the 12 dead 70 injured in Aurora Colorado, what law needs to change so they are, what procedures need to change so police take it seriously when they do get such calls? What standard operating procedure needs to be added ensuring some grade of mental health professional accompany officers on all welfare, wellbeing checks requested; whether it’s catching dementia in the elderly neighbor no one has seen or probably stopping someone like Eliot Roger, seeing what he posted on social media about the visit to his residence by officers requested by his parents worried about his mental state, what might they have picked up on officers aren’t trained to find? Because blaming it on the gun, a satanic plot, the devil, like some will no doubt do knowing Mercer asked people their religion then shot the Christians, is counterproductive, ludicrous when you have a victim of the latest tragedy calling the guy she was forced to be in a room with, through what seemed like hours of terror, calling him deranged, when the victim, again in in the room, who actually experienced it, says he appears to have done so to spare them suffering, suffering he was probably battling, saying to them they would be with god soon. Talking about anything else but mental illness, processing those facts, is a sign you have a mental illness.
Apart from serious social campaigns removing the stigma surrounding mental health so people aren’t scared or shamed away from help, apart from getting the message to young people not having social “status symbols” such as a girlfriend isn’t the end of the world, where is the long overdue discussion about exactly how spectacularly related entities, sans the government, have failed young people? How is it that Adam Lanza’s school got away with wanting to manage and accommodate his disabilities but never insisted he receive treatment; when he was pulled out of school to be home schooled by his, even then, enabling mother, who was perfectly willing to go along with the school’s laziness, the shortest route of convenience for handling Adam, fitting her apparent agenda, why wasn’t DFS called regarding his welfare? Nancy Lanza volunteered at the local elementary school, presumably somewhere around the time Adam attended, and staff noticed her odd behavior, cold, emotionless demeanor; more evidence someone should have intervened. DFS should have conducted an assessment of Mrs. Lanza to ascertain whether or not she could care for, adequately seek tools, resources for his special needs; upon discovering it wasn’t just a lack of knowledge about resources, referrals exc., seeing firsthand the odd behavior, they should have removed Adam from the home, placed him in the appropriate foster, group home, institution seeing to proper diagnosis and treatment, done a psych eval on her to determine possible disorder, any genetic, hereditary components to Adam’s mental health issues, conclude whether or not she was a danger to herself, others or to Adam, evaluations never taking place. Parallel that to Laurel Harper, Chris Harper-Mercer’s mother, who self identifies as having Asperger’s syndrome, on the autism spectrum and, according to online posts, says her son shares the same diagnosis; subsequently posting on Yahoo answers detailing why she has an arsenal of guns boasting no one was coming into her house unannounced and repeatedly citing her son’s “much knowledge” on gun laws. Again it’s not singularly about the gun, gun nuts’ rampant fear of the end of the world, the new world order, one world government, governmental tyranny or those who want to go on a rampage to get back at a cruel world that’s slighted them, it’s about people who deal with poorly diagnosed, poorly treated, poorly managed disorders who think they can handle it themselves; here was another kid who sat in his room all day starring at a computer screen, hardly, never coming out and their mother let them, spoke to neighbors about them being depressed but never forced them from their room, mandated they get help, carted them to an appointment. And when either mother mentioned did manage to coax them out, it was over a love of guns. If Ms. Harper was anything like Mrs. Lanza in young Christopher’s formative years, zero to 18, him doubtlessly showing problems going back that far, he too should have been pulled from the home by local DFS. At minimum none of these parents should have ever allowed guns, especially the high powered assault rifle type weapons, into their home possessing the knowledge they both did about their sons’ problems, making them distinctly different, setting them drastically apart from the parents of other shooters. Where too are public service campaigns, public health initiatives, aimed at telling the public when to simply be supportive, when to simply watch, be aware, when to do something, and when what you’re doing is not enough, when you are in over your head, must seek professional help, possible institutionalization? Yet to be seen is if Laurel Harper will face charges where Nancy Lanza did not, dying from a gunshot wood before Adam began his spree; not argued by large swaths of the public, that the former needed to face them, had she lived, and potential prosecution for the latter would send a clear message, stop making it easier for the unstable person in your life to get a weapon. Returning to public initiatives where is the, sadly needed, counter campaign refuting growing social media, online perception Umpqua was a hoax, openly calling it among others fake, saying the ‘crisis actors’ better known as the shaken victims were getting worse, pointing to incidence like this to a vast conspiracy to everything from take your guns to make you government dependent? To subjects also wrapped up in the gun debate that when used in conjunction with listed suggestions can help stem the violence, fix the background check system, remove the backlog, decrease new information input time, if not consolidate, then link all city, county, state and federal checking systems so a check runs through all of the above, no extra steps for the checker. Link in also, if not consolidate, all watch lists FBI, no fly list, terror watch list, if you are on any of them, no gun for you; steps that would have stopped the Sikh temple shooter from at least buying any more guns as he was already on an FBI watch list for the number of white supremacy groups he belonged to. The problem for Trump and Bush, candidate Mike Huckabee who trotted out the tired cliché, “guns don’t kill people, people kill people” isn’t that they dared swim upstream, dared go against the tide, dared disagree with the Obama administration’s stance, fixation on gun control; it was they didn’t tell us what they planned to do instead to combat these “very intelligent sickos,” not that they named the problems mental illness and our knee jerk tendency to throw more laws at things.
If you want to blast a really lame-brain comment coming from a presidential candidate review Ben Carson’s statements just after it happened; as controversial as Bush and Trump Carson however spoke like someone who fundamentally misunderstands human behavior when confronted with violence. Who had what many would deem an astonishing amount of nerve to say, were he held at gunpoint, he wouldn’t cooperate, he wouldn’t just stand there, he would say “everybody tackle him he may shoot me but he can’t get us all,” seeming to chastise students at Umpqua for not thinking of his suggestion, taking similar action. Elaborating, the hopeful future president to be continued telling persons in such a crisis “he can only shoot one person at a time;” correction Mr. Carson, this shooter only shot one person at a time, calling them up individually, asking their religion and determining who to shoot. You would be unpleasantly surprised at just how fast bullets, even using a semi-automatic weapon, high powered or not, can be spayed across a crowd of people, can put holes in persons confined to a room if a shooter merely walks up, walks in and opens fire, smaller hand guns usually in both hands. Further Mr. Carson seemed unaware of former army veteran Chris Mintz who did challenge the shooter, did bravely shove people out of the way, yell for people to run, bodily shove people toward exits, try to talk to the shooter; his reward, 7 bullet holes, 2 shattered legs, but we’re supposed to see it as a victory because Mintz is alive? Compounding the next to unfathomable stupidity of Carson’s ideas, pontifications on his hypothetical scenario, incongruent with many real, violent, armed person situations, it’s blatantly obvious he has no tangible experience with, just because you yell “hey, everybody tackle him” doesn’t mean people will agree with you on doing so, be in any mental shape to heed your call; meaning, you probably exposed yourself and got shot, maybe even killed when you didn’t have to. There is a reason why what people like Mintz and those on flight 93, the day of 9-11, did is called heroism, because it is uncommon, contrary to our very instincts to stay down, stay low and survive if you can. Piling onto the far- fetched nature of what Mr. Carson believes he would do is his if-y recounting of the time he was held at gunpoint where someone walked in to a business of some sort, shoved what Carson thought was a gun into his ribs, and his response was to calmly, in that distinct Carson manner, tell the man he probably wanted the person behind the counter; to which the gun-toting mystery individual allegedly said, ok. Putting aside how hokey, absolutely made up his story sounds, there is the unadulterated fact these two instances are non-comparable; because, if his story is real, if the thing shoved into his back was indeed a gun, not something merely put there to make him think so, he was still likely dealing with a bumbling, convenience store robber type, petty thief, not a calculating, methodical, meeting the very definition of clinically insane killer, whom, if you fit their description of who they want to kill, your only hope is they can’t hit you due to running to fast, you are well hidden or they think you are dead among the unmoving bodies they previously just shot. Icing on the cake of audacity is he’s chuckling when questioned by a reporter, you really did that, you really said it just that way; Umpqua and other shooting like it might not be fake but he is definitively making a case he is. Carson, unfortunately for his candidacy, didn’t stop there telling news outlets he supports arming select, trained kindergarten teachers to keep classrooms safe, telling Fox News essentially, in response to president Obama’s announced trip to Roseburg, he would be so busy being president he wouldn’t go, wouldn’t speak with victim’s families. You expect to win the presidency by telling people already fed up with a dysfunctional, disconnected Washington you would be too busy to go, wouldn’t make time for the suffering of your constituency; oh and answering parent backlash or anyone possessing a modicum of common sense, you didn’t mean all kindergarten teachers only trained ones, not leaving the gun simply laying on the teacher’s desk, are you serious? Channeling parents across America, though I have no children myself, I can tell you exactly why no parent wants any teacher responsible for a gun 50 feet from them, never mind in their classroom, they don’t want that teacher to become the next Harper-Mercer taking that gun out and shooting their children, waving it around as an intimidation tactic to keep order. This is the caliber of candidate we have running for the highest office, and when an Umpqua survivor dared use news outlets to communicate his understandable upset at the implication he and others should have done more to prevent what happened, it was open season on the media accusing them of distorting his words, taking them out of context and hoping voters see that. Excuse me, how is it not, by telling what you would do the way you did, either bragging you are somehow better than the people trapped on campus that day or insinuating, implying they should have done more to preempt those shot and killed? Oh I was only talking about what I would do; we’re not buying it as one YouTube commenter called him, “uncle Bennie.” We are not looking at hyper sensitive millennials demanding trigger warnings on all literature, canceling fun events because they might offend a small group, late teens and 20 something’s that can’t take a joke; here is a person who was there, who lived to tell their tale telling Ben Carson that’s what I got out of your statements and how dare you. He has every right and you don’t.
We can talk all day, for the next nearly 60 years about gun control the way we have the past 60 years; it won’t change the practical truth ‘gun nuts’ aren’t totally wrong and thus ‘no-gun nuts’ aren’t totally wrong either. Anarchists, survivalists, end of the world preparers in addition to stockpiling guns usually stockpile shelter materials, food water, survival blankets, and while they may be terrifyingly wrong about what will constitute ‘the end of the world,’ usually attaching it to religious doctrine, forget all the movies showing wars, plagues, unscrupulous government, other manipulation of viruses that led to the collapse of civilization; all you have to do is examine the emergency response to natural disasters hurricane Katrina, hurricane Sandy and the lawlessness that resulted to see their point. Even anti-government types possibly affiliated with a group, perchance living in a compound but not necessarily willing to indiscriminately open fire on any law enforcement daring to trespass on their property, whose goal is not to wage war on the ‘corrupt’ government, those actually fairly few and far between, are so anti- government because they ‘see’ its imminent collapse and believe in being prepared to meet their basic needs without it. If the unthinkable ever does become reality, the rest of us will be hopelessly dependent on them for a place to sleep and food, drinkable water, suddenly gaining a newfound respect for the survivalist whack-job. At the same time, if no civilian gun ownership advocates didn’t repeatedly witness previously law abiding persons seemingly snap, turn on the news to find the latest shooter from gunning down a black youth yelping they were in fear of their life to individuals like Harper Mercer espousing racist views, vigilante complexes to the severely mentally, emotionally disturbed, who managed to get guns legally despite long histories of mental health issues, growing concern immediately preceding a rampage, they wouldn’t be so quick to take law abiding, sane people’s guns away. John Russell Houser may have passed his 1980’s court ordered psych eval in relation to a case alleging he hired someone to burn an attorney’s office, but far more recently his family had tried to get him committed for the sole purpose of getting him help, yet he got a gun somewhere and opened fire in the middle of a movie, an apparent drifter no ties to the town, no explanation as to why he was there. The long seen compromise between America’s second amendment rights, respecting a rich tradition of sport shooting, hunting also instilling a respect for the dangers of a gun, respect for the animal life you take, enhancing a respect for life in general, and preventing the thug with a gun, the robber with a gun and most importantly the mass shooter with a gun is limiting clip sizes, ammo batches that can be bought at one time, sold in one box, putting one more barrier between a crazy person and their plans. What gun control persons, who think limits, bans on singular types of guns will be effective in stemming mass shooter violence fail to understand is, that only makes them bring more guns or buy more clips over a staggered time frame. 3 years before the Columbine massacre in the US was the Scotland school massacre where a man touting 4 legally owned hand guns managed to kill 16 students and a teacher; John Russell Houser killed less people in Louisiana because he was forced to stop to reload. Since example one the UK has banned citizen owned guns causing many to wonder why we don’t do the same, including Peres Morgan who contrasted Newtown to a knifing in China by a disturbed man, praising it because guns weren’t in the picture and all those children lived. Enter the good guy with a gun theory gun supporters cling to saying it’s the only thing that stops bad guys with a gun implying it would stop all criminals, deranged knife welders to the thief in the above video, but look at the melee caused when the woman tried to halt the perpetrator by shooting him endangering people in the Home Depot parking lot, possible damage to cars and the thief got away. Note, she violated every rule on use of a conceal and carry weapon, as there was no imminent threat to self or others. Likewise misunderstood, while removing civilian gun ownership would doubtlessly eliminate children accidentally shot by guns in the home improperly stored, family members shot as intruders it won’t put a dent in violent murder, mass murderers fitting a mass shooter profile; why, because it hasn’t addressed the core of the violence, whether it’s a lack of family or constant neighborhood pressure causing someone to join a gang, mental instability leading to domestic abuse, poor economic opportunities, lack of social mobility leading to criminal activity ultimately resulting in murder during a robbery, murder during a fight, murder bought on by feuding neighbors or the inherent mental instability of a mass shooter. And make no mistake there is always an element of mental instability; the Scotland shooter was suspected of being a pedophile barred from youth club scout leadership and repeatedly complained to government officials it led to the failure of his business. We have to ask ourselves which we think is better guns and mass shootings, guns and gangs, guns and crime, things as they stand, bad as they are, or Molotov cocktails hitting homes and families, setting people and children on fire instead of a drive by. The United States prison system is a testament to more than just our carceral state but to human ingenuity, the number of ordinary items you can turn into a weapon; trailing that to its logical conclusion, would college shooting tragedy victims be better off if they hand been bludgeoned with a large sized carpentry hammer, sliced with a machete, attacked with a chainsaw, all things deranged persons have used against another person. How much greater would those innocent children at Newtown’s chances of survival, perhaps equally thought provoking a meaningful life afterward, have been facing crush injuries, limb amputation from said weapons; do we really want to think about what the outcome would have been if James Holmes had come to that theater strapped with explosives, planted pressure cooker bombs like those used by the brothers Tsarnaev, simple instructions available on the internet? Do we want to see how far this can go, see how much damage can be done with the contents of a tool shed, hardware store, knives or do we want to let people keep their guns, let hunters be hunters, gun enthusiasts, collectors be so as long as their high powered rifles and such aren’t used in violence and talk about mental illness, social programs needed to stem the need, the obsession, the default to violence to solve problems?