Tuesday, November 07, 2017

Up on the soapbox ...

Y'all, I wrote a rant on Facebook and then turned it into a piece for the good people of Rewire!

Check it --> Mental Health and Guns: Journalists Aren’t Asking the Right Questions.

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dinthebeast said...

Nice rant. Gun violence is a tough issue. And the "it's a mental health issue" trope is 1) typical of this president in that it attempts to shirk the responsibility off onto a community not in a position to defend itself with lobbyists and cubic dollars, and 2) an indictment of this president's policymaking, as one of the first things he did was remove a regulation that barred seriously mentally ill people from buying guns.

Here in California, we actually do have a law that not only bans the purchase of guns by domestic abusers (a category which actually does correlate with mass shooters) but confiscates their existing guns and ammunition. And yes, keeping the database current has been a major headache with the law, (funding? anyone got funding?) but I read that it had confiscated around 4,000 guns and tens of thousands of rounds of ammunition. They were indeed having problems figuring out the who, how, and when of getting one's name off of the list once it is on, but that is typical of any such undertaking.

Now I'm gonna come out of left field on this and ask whether a gun prohibition will work any better than the alcohol or drug prohibition laws have worked. I ask that because we have some (relative to other states) fairly strict gun laws here in California, but given the cash, here in Oakland, I could get pretty much any gun you could imagine (and a few you wouldn't) in a day.

So I tend to lean more in the direction of "get the CDC to study the hell out of this until we can find out what will help that doesn't limit itself to things that begin with 'thou shalt not.'"

You notice I said "limit itself". There is some good evidence that purchase restrictions and background checks do lessen the frequency and severity of mass shootings, and if we could somehow find the political will to do some it would no doubt help.
But there are already 88 guns for every 100 US citizens, and because of that, I don't think we will ever actually stop all mass shootings.

I grew up with guns, in far Northern California, where they aren't such an imminent danger to everyone, and there is generally a more healthy attitude toward them. I left them all at my dad's house in 1984 when I moved to Oakland, because why would I want them here?

What I discovered here was that there is an unhealthy attitude toward guns here, especially by the young folk, who see a gun as a power symbol and a way to win an argument just by pulling it out of your pocket. That is, they (some of them) use guns as an excuse to not learn the very social skills you need to live in the sort of population densities we have here.
This is incredibly damaging to our community.

So I guess I'm just saying that we need to do some hard work on what to do about the carnage going down on a daily basis if we want to stop it. I want to stop it. It's been decades since there were gunfights in the street in front of the place I lived a few times a week, but I remember that shit well. It was horrible, frightening, and ugly.

Somehow, our communities, for the most part, have gotten past the spasm of bloody conflict that took us in the late eighties and early nineties, and perhaps the CDC could look at that and try to figure out what worked and how we could apply it to even further suppress the senseless slaughter.

But the politicians are gonna be a harder sell. On the one hand, they see incremental reduction in the frequency and severity of mass shootings (and gun violence in general) while on the other hand they see a $1,35 billion a year industry with a lobby that promises mountains of lies and primary challenges to those who might want that to be less than $1.35 billion.

Sorry for the excessive length, but when I get going on this, I always have way more to say than I have space to say it in.

-Doug in Oakland

DesertRose said...

[Content note: Mention of self-harm.]

As someone disabled by mental illness who has never been a danger to anyone but myself, THANK YOU so much for writing that!

And yes, the brunt of the responsibility belongs on the legislators who are too indebted to the NRA to be willing to act meaningfully ("thoughts and prayers" are fine from people who literally can't fix the problem; they're so much hot air out of people who could do something but won't) regarding reducing the number of people killed by gun violence in the USA.

That being said, you're damn right that journalists could step up their game too. Hold the politicians accountable for this ableist bullshit (and a lot of other -ist bullshit, plus general BS).

Thank you again.

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