As I sat in the audience, I became more and more incensed as one speaker after another regaled cherry-picked statistics to support his position. “Maybe I can ask a challenging question or two,” I thought. But, questions had to be written on cards and submitted to the moderator. Fat chance that any of my questions would make the cut.
It was at this point that I concluded that the gun-control narrative is based solely on emotions and feelings — not facts and common sense. Certainly, it’s not as simple as infringing on people’s freedom to own a gun. I think most of us know that’s not the answer. To think otherwise seems overly simplistic and naïve.
The mass murderers at Columbine, Virginia Tech, Aurora and Sandy Hook had one thing in common. Each suffered from serious, and in some cases, untreated mental illness. One of the Columbine shooters was suicidal and depressive. The other was a psychopath. The Virginia Tech assailant suffered from suicidal tendencies and depression. And the Sandy Hook killer had Asperger’s disease and Sensory Integration Disorder. Plus, his mother force-fed him an interest in guns to compensate for his disorders. She then made her sizeable arsenal available to him, and she was the first one he killed before moving on to the young victims at Sandy Hook Elementary.
Family and friends — even the health professionals who treated some of these killers — were well aware of their emotional volatility but failed to act proactively. If progress is to be made, it’s essential to create legally accessible channels for doctors, psychiatrists, ministers, counselors — even parents — to intervene and escalate when a subject becomes a threat to themselves or society. This would require some modification of the doctor-patient relationship. And a “not recommended for gun ownership” designation in an official registry should be considered, as well.
Of equal importance is the need to initiate dialogues with the film industry and electronic game producers, who depict violence as an acceptable and “cool” form of behavior.
As for inner-city violence, several years ago, the New York City Police Department implemented “Stop and Frisk,” targeting suspicious persons in crime-ridden neighborhoods. The resultant confiscation of weapons, stolen property and illegal drugs drastically reduced crime rates. Profiling? Yes. But profiling works. Now a federal judge ruled “Stop and Frisk” must end because it violates the Constitutional rights of minorities.
Clearly, “Stop and Frisk” should be considered in other large cities, including Chicago where there are about two murders a day, the equivalent of almost three Sandy Hook massacres every month. Murder rates in Detroit, New Orleans, Baltimore and Birmingham are fast approaching those in Chicago.
It’s critical to keep guns out of the hands of children, people with mental health issues and criminals. On the other hand, guns are great equalizers when it comes to self-defense. As a friend says: “The only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.”
The suburban Atlanta housewife who used a gun recently to defend herself and her two small children is a good example. Threatened by a suspicious man at her front door, she and her children scrambled to an upstairs closet. She heard the assailant break in and systematically ransack the house. She then heard him coming upstairs. The intruder paused briefly before jerking the closet door open. The terrified woman raised her .38-caliber pistol and shot the ex-convict five times.
Some might say she should have read him his rights. But I’m not one of them.
Terrell Jenkins attended Marietta High School and is a retired speechwriter for IBM.