I have two very good reasons for hating guns.
One of my high school classmates (We’ll call him Jack) was involved in a fatal shooting my sophomore year. For years, Jack was harassed by a student from a rival school. The bully would follow him home after school hurling insults. One day while the bully was giving him an especially difficult time, Jack went inside and removed his fathers shotgun from its locked cabinet and killed his tormentor.
That is my first reason for hating guns.
I can hear the cries of, “Guns don’t kill people, people kill people” already, and I will tell you for the most part I agree with that. However, if there was no gun in the house, Jack might have grabbed a knife or a sledge hammer and this bully would have had the opportunity to run away. Maybe Jack would have tried to buy a gun and sent up a few red flags somewhere. Having a gun that close just made it really easy for him to make a bad decision.
What about background checks? Isn’t that supposed to help weed out people who shouldn’t handle guns? It might, but let me tell you about Jack. I’m supposed to tell you that he was the quiet one in the back of the classroom with shifty eyes and greasy hair. Or that he was a small, angry kid spitting vitriol and swearing revenge at the lunch ladies, but Jack was completely normal. The few times I spoke with him I found him pleasant and funny. He had friends and good to average grades. He was like 80% of the other students. Maybe some intensive therapy might have revealed some deep seeded violent streak, but it wouldn’t show up in a standard background check.
Let’s assume that the NRA isn’t going to be running out of money anytime soon. Let’s assume that getting any sort of ban on guns isn’t going to happen, that there won’t be restrictions placed on assault rifles or automatic weapons. How do we stop people from turning a bad day into a national news headline?
We help them.
These shooters are sick and need help, I know its counter intuitive to everything we’ve learned about justice and revenge, but something happened to these people that made them lose touch with humanity. If only someone had been able to see a few of the signs, things might have been different. What if we had annual mental health check-ups? I read somewhere that adults should get a physical check up twice while in their 20’s, three times while in their 30’s, four time while in their 40’s and then annually after their 50’s. The idea being that the older you are, the more your physical body needs attention. Why don’t we apply this to our emotional health as well? In our teens we would have annual emotional health wellness checks. At around 25 we taper it off to every 18 months, at 30 every two years and after forty every 5 years. Exceptions would be made for major life events (death of a family member, birth of a child, loss of job, new job, moving to a new city, etc) and if a person felt they had a particular issue to work through.
If we considered mental health as important as physical health, maybe these shooting would be a little less frequent and the NRA could keep their damn automatic weapons.