It’s been months since the school shooting in Florida. I’ve waited patiently but anxiously to write this piece, trying to time it after the Florida shooting, but before the next mass shooting in America.
I’m a gun owner. I don’t own an assault rifle. I don’t own a twenty round magazine. I don’t need either. I own guns to hunt, primarily. I am not a member of the NRA. I understand that if the government comes to get me, they are going to come with force so overwhelming that untold twenty round clips won’t help me. Or they’ll send a drone the size of a bumble bee up my nose and explode my brain.
Mental illness seems to be the default culprit behind mass shootings. It is easy to blame mental illness. If a person shoots up a church, or a music festival, or a school, it is mental illness’s fault.
Some lawmakers who blame mental illness for gun tragedies do so because while they could legislate gun laws, they cannot legislate mental illness. It makes the problem unsolvable because…
Mental illness isn’t a constitutional right.
We can’t pass a law that bans mental illness.
We can’t even pass a law that makes mental illness harder to get.
If mental illness was a constitutionally granted right, and something people wanted to have, there would be a lobby that gave millions of dollars to Ted Cruz and Paul Ryan ensuring that they never, ever, blamed anything on mental illness.
Congress people tell us their hands are tied on the gun issue. The NRA wants elected officials to believe that if they say anything against gun ownership of any kind, they will be swept from office.
Evan Jenkins is running for Senate in West Virginia. Mr. Jenkins’ campaign has this to say about the Second Amendment on his website: New York liberals…would repeal the Second Amendment…; they have no regard for our constitutional rights and our special way of life in West Virginia…Jenkins will fight tooth and nail to defend the Second Amendment when it’s under attack. Evan’s work in Congress to stop liberal assaults on our gun rights has earned him an A Rating from the National Rifle Association, because he understands that our God-given freedoms and constitutional rights are not up for negotiation.
First off, the statement “our special way of life in West Virginia” leaves me queasy and a bit unsettled. Taken in context, it makes it sound as though every West Virginian is toting an AR-15 squirrel gun, and Granny is on her porch fulfilling stereotypes and jist awaitin’ fer one ah them liberal New Yorkers to come a-walkin by.
Taken out of context, “our special way of life in West Virginia” is just weird.
When the next school shooting happens, Jenkins will likely side with the argument that, “This is not a gun issue. It’s a mental health issue.” It’s the kind of argument that wins you an NRA A rating. It is a cowardly whimper that ensures NRA donations, does nothing to fix the problem, and allows mass shootings to continue.
Flip a few words around and you have “This is not a mental health issue. This is a gun issue.” But for conservatives and Democrats in conservative districts, that statement would be tantamount to resigning from office. To say it that way is to admit that guns play a role in gun violence. But Jenkins “will fight tooth and nail to defend the Second Amendment when it’s under attack.”
The Second Amendment often comes under attack when some person enters a school and kills multiple children. Wouldn’t it be great if Jenkin’s website said he will fight tooth and nail to defend your children from attack? It would seem that Jenkins believes gun ownership is a God-given freedom (I don’t have that passage in my Bible, maybe Jenkins has some other translation) and thus he will not negotiate on behalf of the lives of children.
Jesus said, “Suffer little children come unto me.”
Lawmakers who choose to do nothing to stop gun violence in schools seem satisfied with just, “Suffer little children.”
It may be un-American, and counter to “our special way of life in West Virginia,” but I love my children more than I love my guns. And the very fact that that statement will anger some people is crushingly sad.
The NRA wants people to believe that the passage of any law restricting guns will herald three immediate consequences. First, gun violence will continue unabated. Second, if even one restriction is passed the Government will show up to seize all your guns. And third, all law bidding citizens will be murdered by outlaws at midnight.
The second two won’t happen. We don’t know if gun violence will decrease because the mere suggestion of public safety is a liberal assault on our gun rights and Congress won’t stand for that.
But we could try. We could pass a law that says no new sales of assault rifles (I know we’d have to work on the definition of an assault rifle). Nobody has to give up the assault rifles they already own, you just can’t buy anymore new ones. It won’t kill the gun market. Guns are like cars. If a company quits selling one model, people buy another model.
Or, no new sales of twenty round clips. It is frustrating that even that idea is so seemingly impossible. Again, nobody has to turn anything in. Just no more sales of new twenty round clips.
The argument is inevitable: Neither one of those laws will stop all gun violence.
I know that. But what if we stopped one mass killing? What if by banning the sale of twenty round clips we managed to avert one school from getting shot up? What if because one person couldn’t get a twenty round clip, seventeen kids weren’t killed? Shouldn’t we be fighting tooth and nail for that?