Guns and Mental Health

This list might look familiar:

· Promote safe storage of firearms to prevent child firearm access.

· Support extreme risk protection, otherwise known as “red flag laws.”

· Oppose permitless carry.

· Require criminal background checks.

· Oppose “stand your ground” or “shoot first” laws.

If you attended our County Convention in April, you might remember that these are the gist of the resolutions we approved on gun safety. Their adoption was owing to the active involvement of some of our dedicated members in the cause.

Or you might just recognize these as the kinds of common-sense reforms that never seem to get anywhere. Despite overwhelming support from a majority of Americans, including most gun owners, it has been almost three decades since the last time the federal government passed significant gun legislation. Thwarted for so long by implacable Republican opposition, it’s no wonder that advocates are celebrating even the baby steps toward effective action that seem likely to pass in the Senate.

Will Michelle Fischbach support that compromise when it goes to the House? Don’t bet on it. When the House passed its own bill earlier, she called it “a grab-bag of far-Left proposals” and voted against it. Fischbach claims that she wants “to reduce violence in our communities,” but rules out anything that would actually limit access to firearms because “we must respect the fundamental constitutional rights of Americans.” Hiding behind the Second Amendment is a favorite cover for inaction, and it’s baloney. Instead, she favors a bill that would “increase funding for school resource officers” – basically, put more police (and their guns) into schools. Columbine, Parkland, and Uvalde all employed such officers, and look what happened. Research has shown that putting more resource officers in schools is ineffective at stopping shootings, but at least it’s not as stupid an idea as arming teachers.

Blame it on the NRA for coining the slogan that “the only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.” Common sense should tell us that increasing the number of guns in circulation increases the likelihood that someone will use them when they oughtn’t, and indeed the two things that really stand out about the United States is that Americans own more guns and have more gun deaths than anyplace else in the world.

To deflect attention from the guns themselves, Republicans have suddenly woken up to the country’s mental health crisis. The focus of the Senate compromise is an attempt to keep disturbed young men from turning violent. It’s a real problem that we ought to be putting significant resources into addressing, but it should not be seen as an alternative to the basic fact that too many people have too easy access to too many guns with way too much firepower.

We’ll have to wait and see if anything meaningful happens this time around. A core of single-issue pro-gun voters is a significant part of the Republican base and one obvious reason why the party stands in the way of reform. Too many have fallen for the propaganda that any legislation curtailing access to guns is just the first step on a slippery slope toward “the gummint takin’ our guns away.” That’s called a logical fallacy. Come to think of it, if we use mental health as a criterion for permitting gun ownership, maybe we should start with those nuts.

So here’s the bottom line: If taking action to prevent gun violence is an issue you care about, vote for Democrats.



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