Here we go again: another mass shooting, this time on California soil. California being a state with some of the toughest gun laws. The shooter is another young man. The victims are most likely strangers of the shooter. And we have another recurring thread that pops up in these mass shootings: mental illness. It was reported by CNN and other news sources that this young man spent time in rehabilitation for a mental condition. I bet, however, that the anti-gun lobbies will come after the weapons as the cause of this tragedy. The tools, so-to-speak; the objects controlled by a deranged individual.
I want to remind everyone reading this that guns are merely tools. They are utensils of sorts. Tools can be used for good or for bad–yes? Let’s look at other tools: hammer, nail, fork, spoon, chain saw, pen, and this computer. I can use all of these objects for a good use, or I can choose to use them for evil. The gun works in much the same way. I (as a human being) can choose to use a gun for good (self-defense, hunting for food, protection of offspring), or I can choose to use it for evil (murder, intimidation, theft). You get the point, right?
Don’t come attacking me with your sharpened tongue and tell me that I’m some gun-totin’, backwoods, Bible beatin’ Southerner with a coonskin cap and a baby on my hip, because you are wrong on all accounts. In fact, I am personally terrified of this type of tool. I don’t own a gun (but I won’t tell you where I live, now), and I don’t intend on raising any future children at the shooting range either. However, I am a firm believer in civil liberties and our Bill of Rights. I digress. The point is that despite my fear of this type of tool that we have available for many different uses, I took a gun safety course several years ago and procured by concealed carry license in the free-for-all state of Florida (far from the tyranny of California). I never purchased a weapon, but I cherished that license as a form of conquering fears, educating myself, and rising above the fray of ignorant gun-haters. I recommend you do this too.
The point of my commentary here today is not to convince you to join the NRA and purchase a pink Glock with rhinestones and dance around like you just won the lottery of life, the purpose is to point out that our tools are not the problem here. The problem has more to do with the lackadaisical attitude we have toward the issue of mental illness in our young men. Yes, I said young men. Not that the ladies are excused from mental illness conversations, but it seems to be our young men who are acting out in severely aggressive ways. This, of course, is nothing new. Anyone remember Cain and Abel?
It is time to focus our attention on the real issue that continues to arise: the health status of troubled young minds. Guns are merely a decoy– a shiny object of distraction. Yes, they can cause death, but only at the hands of those who are irresponsible, uneducated, or deranged, and gun bans or more restrictive laws won’t necessarily change that. In fact, those types of laws will only take the possibility of protection away from potential victims. Most gun deaths could have been avoided if the underlying issues were taken care of in the first place. If that one person who noticed there was a problem decided to tackle it, call it in, or address it professionally as opposed to remain silent. We should be lobbying for better resources for mental illness, and for better education around guns. We should take the criminality out of our tools and place the responsibility back into the individual who commits the crime. Only then can we begin to respond to the real problems at hand, as opposed to being distracted by simple tools.