Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Response to Mass Shootings

The question of the day is: What is the difference between a democracy and a republic?

One answer is that in a democracy if your side gets 50 percent plus one of the votes, whatever you wanted gets done, even if you take rights away from the losing side. In a republic, you can never take any rights, as listed in the governing documents, away from the law-abiding citizens, but in all issues not based upon those rights, the majority prevails.

What brought this to mind was an interview on the local Monday morning news. I believe I heard the woman being interviewed about the shooting at Umpqua Community College say, “America must do something.” The rest of the segment talked about guns. You may draw your own conclusions about what the message contained in that report.

In a democracy, it is possible to have knee-jerk reaction to a shooting and ban the “bad” gun. In our republic, it is not so easy, as everyone is bound by the constraints of the Constitution and it is the individual who must bear responsibility. 

I hear and read about politicians who want to ban certain guns, ammunition, or simply make it more difficult to own any firearms. Now in this country everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but the second amendment is fairly clear to me. I have a right to own a handgun or a rifle or a shotgun or several of each. What I don’t have a right to do is to harm another person except in defense of myself or others.

A few elected officials or candidates have talked about dealing with the issue of mental health. A few have talked about the dangers of gun-free zones. Most just talk about gun control; which from their statements is simply the reduction or removal of the right of law-abiding citizens to buy and own guns.

Why are we not having a serious discussion on the very real issue of helping those who have a mental illness which may cause them to harm themselves or others? Why does our society refuse to help that tiny part of our population who cannot help themselves? A few more beds in hospitals that are equipped to deal with mental illness might be the first step that allows families and even judges to get these people help. 

Why are we not talking about the risks of gun-free zones? Schools, theaters, and other locations that by law or by choice are designated gun-free zones have been the location of most of the mass shootings over the past few decades. Why would we believe that mentally ill or even worse, the evil individuals who desire to harm others are somehow stupid? The evidence before us shows that most prefer to carry out their horrid deeds where there is the least risk to themselves. As an example, courthouses are normally gun-free zones and yet are the scene of few mass shootings. Is this fact due to the constant presence of armed law enforcement officers?

It is time for America to do something. Insane and evil people are committing hideous crimes and we do nothing to address the problem except talk. Politicians are turning serious issues into political fodder to further their own agenda. 

How will our society deal with those suffering from mental illnesses? The debate on this complex issue must be moved to the front of the line. For the sake of those who suffer from mental illness and their families, we cannot ignore this issue any longer.

Discussions in every community about the risks of gun-free zones must happen. Who carries the liability for protecting people who enter a gun-free zone? Is there a risk or what kind of risk is there for not having a gun-free zone versus the clear risk of having such zones?

It is time for each American to remember that we live in a republic and we must seek answers that don’t undermine the very foundation of our nation. If we can erase the 2nd amendment with legalize and regulation, what prevents the same from happening to the rest of the Bill of Rights?

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