Let me clear right at the top: I am for massive, robust, and comprehensive gun control. I am for the kind of gun control that many might say isn’t “sensible”. I am for very strict limits on access to guns, and I am for mandatory buy-backs of some kind, particularly on semi-automatic assault rifles. I believe that we must somehow decrease the number of guns in circulation more than anything. I also believe that I will not see this happen any time soon, perhaps even in my lifetime.
With all that in mind, I believe it’s time for the left to call the right’s bluff on mental health when it comes to gun violence. The issue of gun violence in schools leveled up today when Denver was forced to cancel school for a reported 500,000 students because of a credible threat there in the week of the 20th anniversary of the tragic Columbine shootings. It ended in tragedy. The subject of the threat got a gun and killed herself. God rest and keep her beloved soul. The right cannot, nor does not, deny that we have a problem with gun violence in this country, but they (I believe wrongly) won’t blame gun access but blame it on the mental health crisis. And we do have a mental crisis. So here’s where I’m at.
Let’s call their bluff.
In addition to radical gun law reform, we need serious mental reform in this country. This is a whole other crisis that demands attention, and, as I see it, mental health issues have been grossly underfunded, underresourced, and underresearched. The right will not pass anything meaningful in regards to gun control (they won’t even let it be studied by the CDC!), will filibuster the crap out of anything if the Democrats gain control of Congress and the White House (not to mention there are already too many on the left who are also sold out to the gun lobby) and those sold out to it blame the crisis on mental health. So, let’s take what they’ll give us. Let’s craft massive, robust, and comprehensive mental health reform so that, according to the gun lobby, we can fix this crisis.
There are three scenarios that play out here. Either the gun lobby folk vote against it and are totally exposed as frauds. That’s actually a win. Exposing frauds is always good. Comprehensive mental health passes, it does fix the gun violence crisis, and those like me are proven wrong, but we’ve solved the gun violence problem, so I don’t care about being wrong (a grossly unlikely scenario). But even if it doesn’t fix the gun violence crisis, we at least get (hopefully) meaningful mental health reform, and, having exposed that the core issue is not mental health, we can move on to gun control.
Those of us who advocate for stricter gun control need to continue to do so, but we also need to get realistic about what we can do. Since the shooting at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas we have seen a mass of young people (most of whom who do not have the power to vote out those sold out to the gun lobby, mind you) demanding robust and meaningful gun control. Yes, we need to work on voting those out who are sold out and controlled by the likes of the NRA, but we also can’t wait. Let’s expose the frauds, and maybe even get some good mental health reform out of the deal.
We cannot wait any longer. It’s been 20 years since Columbine, the day we all kind of woke up and said, “things are different now aren’t they?” Unfortunately, and shame on us for it, since then nothing’s changed. And that is 100% undeniably unacceptable.
UPDATE: It’s been less than a month since I wrote this and since then we’ve had two shootings in which students laid their lives down to attack the gunman and save the lives of other students, one of which is a neighboring suburb of Columbine. Congress continues to shrug its shoulders and do nothing about this crisis. We are at the point where we are expecting our children to sacrifice themselves because we refuse to do anything about this crisis.