The gun law debate after massacres
Published: Dec 18, 2012
In Connecticut at the end of last week, 26 people were dead. Of this number 20 were children. A lone gunman ended their lives. He had no reasonable grievance with them. He just decided to extend his derangement to a generation just beginning to enter the world. They are now gone forever.
When these mass killings happen, often in America, we all look at what caused it and what should be done to help prevent further such occurrences. No one wants to read again about school children being massacred.
The focus always drifts, however, to gun control. We all seek simple solutions to the problem.
Americans have a constitutional right to bear arms. Guns are prevalent in America. Yet despite the easy access to guns there versus here, the homicide rate in The Bahamas, where gun laws are significantly stricter, is five to six times higher.
The problem with the Connecticut killings has nothing to do with gun laws or guns. It has to do with mental illness and evil. A deranged young man killed these people. Tightening gun laws would not have prevented this massacre in the American context.
We must all remember that Timothy McVeigh killed 168 people in the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995 using fertilizer and motor racing fuel. Should we ban fertilizer or fuel?
The best we can do in societies as individuals and as families is to watch over our loved ones who are mentally ill. Sometimes this means pushing to ensure that they seek psychiatric treatment and that they take their medicines. Other times, this may mean ensuring that they are kept in mental health facilities for the rest of their lives.
The state can ensure that laws exist that allow for referral committals to mental health institutions by families and caregivers when doctors make the necessary evaluations. The state can also ensure that permanent holds exist for the deranged once admitted so they never leave secured faculties.
We cannot stop mentally ill people from doing bizarre things. Obsessing over gun control legislation will not prevent them from acting. However, if we as individuals and as families do more to ensure that our loved ones do not linger posing threats to the public, some of these tragedies could be prevented. Similarly, if the state ensures that there is easy access to treatment for the mentally ill and simple incarceration procedures, fewer of them would be roaming the streets wreaking havoc.