Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Mass Shootings: Something must be done!

As of the time I write this piece (October 6, 2015) there have been 297 mass shootings in the United States in the year 2015. I am sure that number shocks you because you most likely have not heard of nearly 300 mass shootings this year. That is because the media only covers the ones that make their news seem sensational and their advertisers salivate over the Return on Investment made advertising with the news agencies. According to Mass Shooting Tracker (http://shootingtracker.com/wiki/Main_Page), a mass shooting is defined as four or more people shot in a single setting/spree; not only the ones killed. But let's move forward.

Every time the media covers one of these devastating events, it will usually include the President of the United States on television calling for more laws and measures to stop mass shootings. Now depending upon where you sit or stand on the political spectrum will highly decide just how you interpret these headlines and stories. Usually I attempt to make light of these things on social media but it does not always work out because there are far too many sensitive persons these days. So I will stick as close as I can to the center and to the facts. The President is calling on Congress to make some sensible laws to curb this sort of behavior while not infringing on the Second Amendment. This is a tough road to travel to be sure. However, it is not just Congress, it is the government in total that has to work together. This is not something that has happened in a very long time and certainly not since the Republicans gained control of Congress in 2014. This is not a reason for the President to insult the Republicans though it seems that he does. It is also not a reason for either party to boo-hoo and cry because they do not like the President.

Here in the United States of America, bills are introduced and voted on in the House of Representatives. If the vote passes, it moves to the Senate for debate and vote. If the bill passes the Senate it goes to the President to be "signed into law". Everyone get that? The President does not have the power to come take your guns. So now you have this bitterness in the government; the President wants something done... and Congress stalls on anything getting done at all about it... and the media reports whatever makes their network the most money. Conservative news will tell you that the President will come door to door personally and take all of your weapons, and the liberal news will blame the Republicans for not helping to take the guns and so the Republicans must hate America. Or something like that.

The reality is, we all want something done. We are all tired of watching the news and finding out that another "Gun-Free Zone" was targeted and a shooter performed a vicious act. We become scared, we become hermits. No one wants to go to the mall, go to the movies, go anywhere that people gather and can become a victim. So I am writing to discuss some points that I think address the problem or "could" address the problem and maybe help set things right.

1) Let's look at the issue of mental instability. Many of the shooters seem to suffer from some sort of mental disorder that may or may not be able to be helped but there has been a serious decline in facilities to house people who may be mentally distraught. Since 1972, there has been a thing happening called Deinstitutionalisation. This is the process of replacing long-term care facilities with community mental health services. Let me make that brief and reiterate; replacing facilities with services. In my opinion, because of the decline of the healthcare system (whole new argument there, folks), this simply means that we are not providing the best treatment for people who need it. Then if the people who really need it are not receiving the proper treatment and not being properly recorded, then they are able to waltz through the federal background check for a hand gun...hmm, how'd that happen? This is not in every mass shooting case, but in the ones that the person did have some sort of mental disorder, we cannot just shove a prescription in their pocket and kick them into the streets.

2) Now take a look at the shooters who do not kill themselves in the process. In most cases, these people find an attorney who will cop a plea of insanity or some mental disorder and woe is he for not having the proper care and help. Regarding the above paragraph, yes the people who need help NEED HELP. But look at the case of James Egan Holmes, the 2012 Aurora Theater shooter. He is scheduled to serve 12 life sentences followed by 3,318 years of prison. No, that is not a typo. He wanted to plea guilty to "avoid the death penalty", which was denied but guess what? A jury of his peers could not unanimously vote to put him to death. Interesting, I do not recall anyone popping into the movie theater on the night of July 20, 2012 and giving the victims a choice to live, die or be there at all! He lost his right to live the moment he set that plan in motion. He should have been marched out of the courtroom into the town square and put to death by any way the families of the victims chose. These executions should also be televised on all major networks coast to coast. Now look, I know that there are going to be some haters on this but don't you think that people who are NOT really insane might think twice about committing crimes like this if they know that this could be the outcome of their actions? Let's save some tax payers' money!

3) We have service men and women coming home and need jobs. There are some great groups out there that promote the hiring of these men and women and I applaud them I really do. Let's cross off two items from the list of "What is Wrong in America" (no, there is no actual list...) and give these men and women jobs protecting EVERY school in the United States of America from grade K through College/University. Guess what? A retail store in Delaware was tired of being robbed semi-regularly at gunpoint and hired an ex-marine to work the night shift as an armed guard in the store. They have not been robbed again. It works! And if it does not deter, it sure will be the best defense the schools can have to protect the institution and the people.

4) The President and others want to keep you thinking that where there are stricter gun laws there is less crime. Keep in mind that the way they present these numbers it can be true. If you look at it state-wide then the number works for your agenda; the states with the strictest gun laws have less gun crime. However, the cities with strictest gun laws have the highest crime. It's all perspective can we agree? So let's look at a smart gun law idea. What if more states allowed law-abiding citizens to carry a firearm concealed without obtaining a permit? Currently only six states allow what is known as Constitutional Carry meaning to carry a concealed firearm without a permit. Twenty more states have introduced bills for Constitutional Carry but have not yet voted. This levels the playing field although it is a terrible thought that we must do so but criminals are more likely to not commit these mass shootings when there is a strong chance most of the would-be victims are armed and equally dangerous. Look at the argument this way, if you are a law-abiding citizen and pass a background check then you can own a firearm. Why the need for the additional steps to obtain more bureaucratic paperwork to carry your legally obtained firearm and protect yourself? Listen, having a permit or not having a permit does not make the difference in whether or not someone will use the firearm for harm or not. But not allowing citizens to defend themselves is completely wrong.

I do not have the answers, but collectively we can come up with some solutions. It will take everyone writing and calling your representatives in Congress. Instead of telling them to not take your guns, ask them to start passing laws that will allow you to protect yourself, laws that will ensure the proper treatment of persons with mental disorders, laws that will put our service men and women back to work in jobs that are meaningful to their training and laws that will help boost the economy and the moral of the citizens of the United States of America! Abraham Lincoln said, "and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth". Start acting like it is a government of the people, by the people and for the people before it does perish from this earth