“Guns were her hobby,” said Dan Holmes, the landscaper of Nancy Lanza’s sprawling yard here on the edge of town. “She told me she liked the single-mindedness of shooting.” [Washington Post - Newtown school shooter’s mother collected guns, was loath to let people inside home]
WHEN I gave an interview back in 2008 to The New Republic, one of the first questions I was asked was whether I keep a gun to protect myself as I claimed in my writings. I showed Joe Matthews, who was interviewing me, what we kept close by. We, do not, however, belong to the N.R.A., an organization that is a scourge and has no soul except to sell weaponry, thinking they have no responsibility for our violent culture. But what ails us goes well beyond guns.
Senator Joe Manchin, who was a 100% rating with the N.R.A. says “it’s time to act.” But the proof is in the legislation, but also getting a new line from the N.R.A.
A precise count isn’t possible because most guns in the United States aren’t registered and the government has scant ability to track them, thanks to a legislative landscape shaped by powerful pro-gun groups such as the National Rifle Association. But through a combination of national surveys and manufacturing and sales data, we know that the increase in firearms has far outpaced population growth. [Mother Jones]
I was instrumental in my husband getting a concealed carry permit years ago, because he used to work in far reaches of the Nevada desert by himself late at night. Protection for his own safety was a real issue. But concealed carry permits should not be given out like candy at Christmas. People should be compelled to prove the need for one, which doesn’t need a high bar, and accompanying every single concealed carry permit should be the requisite registry in a new federal gun database.
However, contrary to what many believe because few opining about guns know anything about them, it’s not just the lack of background checks, gun show loopholes, and the continued obstinance to begin a national gun registry that is our problem in this country. I support all efforts to make background checks mandatory, including at gun shows, but also on anyone placing an ad online or in a local papers. It should be a felony for any gun seller found breaking these laws. I’ve also long advocated a federal national gun registry, which eventually will be state by state accessible, which certainly won’t be easy.
But not even this would stop the gun massacres in America.
”The high education level is one thing I hadn’t anticipated, and the link to unemployment is another thing I didn’t realize,” Professor Blumstein said. ”One of the things that education does is raise expectations, and raised ones are more readily frustrated.”
For people without the emotional resources to accommodate it, frustration ”can lead to rage, can lead to suicide,” Professor Blumstein said.
These crimes are not new. Public rampage killings first entered the national consciousness with Charles Whitman, who stood on the University of Texas’s tower in 1966, firing his rifle at students, killing 14 people.
Adam Lanza’s mother didn’t decide to go on a shooting rampage. Her mentally unbalanced son did. But Nancy Lanza’s extreme privacy and lack of attention to what was happening with her son is as much a problem as his mental state. We know so little about this type of seemingly obsessive compulsive behavior about guns, because politicians don’t have the courage to demand study of it, with the goal of understanding paranoid gun nuts.
Remember back during the 2010 election cycle, when Tea Party types were carrying guns openly at political rallies? In Michigan last Thursday, before the Connecticut massacre, a law passed allowing trained gun owners to carry weapons in places such as schools, bars, churches, day care centers and stadiums. All of these open and concealed carry rights have gone way too far.
Only the outcry from the American public can change this country and it won’t be easy to turn back how far we’ve walked over the line on gun ownership without a trail.
But again, if you look at the gun rampages, it’s not just about weaponry.
Unfortunately, like the American answer to 9/11, we’re not very amenable to doing what’s actually necessary. Instead of behavioral profiling at airports, we frisk down Al Gore and little old ladies.
When it comes to gun violence, behavioral profiling begins at home, but continues at schools and in the community itself. We can only guess of the interaction between Nancy Lanza and her sick son responsible for the massacre in Connecticut. It was a closed household that led to an acting out that cost Ms. Lanza her life and her son doing unspeakable crimes against humanity that can never be understood from the outside.
From Gawker, a harrowing real life story of mental illness, the subject no one in this country ever wants to address and which the American right will go out of its way to refuse to investigate, including funding a way to allow people to get help through health care.
I live with a son who is mentally ill. I love my son. But he terrifies me.
A few weeks ago, Michael pulled a knife and threatened to kill me and then himself after I asked him to return his overdue library books. His 7- and 9-year-old siblings knew the safety plan–they ran to the car and locked the doors before I even asked them to. I managed to get the knife from Michael, then methodically collected all the sharp objects in the house into a single Tupperware container that now travels with me. Through it all, he continued to scream insults at me and threaten to kill or hurt me.
That conflict ended with three burly police officers and a paramedic wrestling my son onto a gurney for an expensive ambulance ride to the local emergency room. The mental hospital didn’t have any beds that day, and Michael calmed down nicely in the ER, so they sent us home with a prescription for Zyprexa and a follow-up visit with a local pediatric psychiatrist.
[...] When I asked my son’s social worker about my options, he said that the only thing I could do was to get Michael charged with a crime. “If he’s back in the system, they’ll create a paper trail,” he said. “That’s the only way you’re ever going to get anything done. No one will pay attention to you unless you’ve got charges.”
I don’t believe my son belongs in jail. The chaotic environment exacerbates Michael’s sensitivity to sensory stimuli and doesn’t deal with the underlying pathology. But it seems like the United States is using prison as the solution of choice for mentally ill people. According to Human Rights Watch, the number of mentally ill inmates in U.S. prisons quadrupled from 2000 to 2006, and it continues to rise–in fact, the rate of inmate mental illness is five times greater (56 percent) than in the non-incarcerated population.
With state-run treatment centers and hospitals shuttered, prison is now the last resort for the mentally ill–Rikers Island, the LA County Jail and Cook County Jail in Illinois housed the nation’s largest treatment centers in 2011.
Mental health is a silent killer that Americans talk about after gun rampages, but never follow up to do anything about.
What happened in Connecticut is not just about guns.
If the N.R.A. had a soul they’d be out front demanding action from politicians and health care providers to make mental health easier to get and cheaper to afford.
Politicians should also link up with mental health professionals to come up with questions on a background check that trigger warnings when someone is applying for a gun, but especially a concealed carry permit.
Every American citizen has a responsibility to deny politicians with cozy links to the gun lobby and the N.R.A. to get a seat in power. But every person should also demand easier access to mental health help, which is at the root of the majority of gun massacres in America.
This column has been updated.