Gun Violence . . . in Triplicate!

24 Sep

Three major attacks with weapons this week all stand in juxtaposition to one another.  

The attack at the Navy Yard in which an armed man with schizophrenia killed twelve people before he was killed.  Of note:  some of those twelve people and some of their coworkers may have concealed carry permits in the state of Virginia.  Any of them can open carry in the state of Virginia.  Washington, D.C. and our federal military bases have laws and rules prohibiting people from carrying their personal weapons onboard the Washington Navy Yard.  No one initially on the scene was armed except the shooter.     

A gang attack in a park in Chicago in which many innocent bystanders, including children, were injured.  Of note:  Chicago has gun control, so no weapons were in the hands of the innocent bystanders.  Only in the hands of the criminal element on the scene!

The attack in the Westgate Mall in Nairobi, Kenya in which a mounting number of innocent bystanders, many singled out for their Christian affiliation, were killed.  Probably more than a hundred.  Time will tell, as the four-day siege just ended today and experts are still sorting through the rubble produced by terrorists shooting off their weapons for four days, facing off with authorities when they arrived on the scene.  

All that to say, we have three different reasons for gunfire erupting:  mental illness, gang violence, and terrorism.  

Two of those, criminal gangs and terrorists, will never disarm, no matter how many gun control laws are passed in the U.S. or anywhere else. 

The mentally ill may be disarmed minimally by stricter gun control laws.  

Or not . . . 

I tend to come at this situation from the side of advocacy for the mentally ill.  Who says we do them any favors when we say they cannot be involuntarily committed unless they are proven to be an imminent danger to themselves or to someone else? 

Don’t we realize that that means we can almost never take a dangerous schizophrenic person off the streets until he has gotten off at least one round?

And, in the case of the Navy Yard shooter, he had had gun violations on at least two other occasions that were not taken seriously enough to file an accurate report on them!!!

The status of care for the mentally ill in my state of Virginia is abysmal.  They too are created by God.  I don’t think we should just ignore them as they sleep on park benches and wander around in the daylight, scaring tourists with their wild-eyed rants.  

That is supposed to be kindness to the mentally ill?  Saying we can’t intervene unless they harm someone or invite us to help them?

Mentally ill people quite often don’t realize they have a problem.  I realize it is easy to overstep and violate someone’s rights, especially if he is in a vulnerable position.  But to not try to help him at all due to some exaggerated fear of being paternalistic and patronizing is just cruel.  

I take the side that we will cover more ground with help to the mentally ill than we will ever cover with more gun control laws.  

The President is right–it is time to act.  I just think we need to begin with being our brother’s keeper to the mentally ill, rather than jumping on the gun control bandwagon.  


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