The Texas Solution
Recently, a man who was intent on killing in a church was shot and killed by armed men in the congregation. It was treated as a relief from the incredible slaughter we have witnessed in the schools, churches, and synagogues throughout the country. I hail the men who sacrificed their safety to bring the shooter down. They are heroes. But the more prescient question is why were any guns in a House of God? The man who did it died, and he deserved to die. But the question remains.
I have been scared of mental health issues for virtually my entire life. The story above is told with the caveat that people who are mentally ill are obtaining guns and using them on the public. That has to stop. A person who is mentally ill is not in control of his faculties. I have a history of mental illness in my abbreviated family. My family, not all but a couple of us, should not be allowed guns. I live in Massachusetts which maintains a strong gun law and it is difficult to obtain a gun in that state. It should be as difficult for any mentally impaired person to obtain guns. They should have the same registration information as cars do. That is just my opinion. The men who took the man down were heroes. That is a fact.
My fear of mental health issues emanates from my grandmother, who lived with a horrible husband for years and suffered what was probably PTSD. She was normal for most of her young life, but became a victim to a bully and could not escape. It was not pretty. My grandfather gave the county hospital in their state, permission to give her a procedure, which was so heinous that it is not done anymore. It altered her life significantly and in a very bad way. As a result of the operation, which was quite common at the time, she was never the same.
I have letters from her that were written when I was a baby, before the operation, and she was the same as anyone else. Later, after the operation, it was clear that she was not mentally able to live a full life. We could not reason with her, and we became concerned. I should say that her children became concerned. As it was, our life with her was never the same.
Eventually, she died of Alheimer’s Disease. She was in her early seventies. I remember how hard she struggled with her mental health problems. She was incredible. Her struggle was not pretty. Like many, I have sensed her presence on the other side, since her death, and I believe in that type of thing, and she was a very normal person. Quite different than the woman I knew as a child.
Mental Health Issues
I have been interested in mental health issues for my entire life. Part of it is purely selfish. I do not want to die of Alheimer’s. For my part I am especially interested in bipolar disease, because I have seen many who have it and it is a vicious mental disease. I remember being younger, a teenager perhaps, and learning that bipolar symptoms are much like an addiction to cocaine. There are manic highs and super lows and areas in-between. I once thought of writing a book about my mental health, or lack thereof, but there was just not that much to write about. I was denied by the local police department from having a gun and I have blessed them many times, even though it seemed like a violation of Amendment II.
My Relationship With God
I leaned heavily on what I perceived to be God. I still go to Mass four days a week. I have a very nice poem which was left on my first teaching desk, that said that in the « Loom of Time » I was a darker thread which was needed in order to face the glitter of the more ostentacious threads that made up the final colors of the cloth in the Loom. The craftsman was God Himself.
Drinking My Troubles Away
I remember that there was one point where I was suffering. I took the time to stop drinking, which I did not think was a problem, but it had to go. I have been without alcohol for twenty plus years. I was better off for the action. Stopping was definitely the way to go. I took responsibility for my actions. As it turned out it was the thing to do.
Childhood Exposure to Guns
I have recently been spending a lot of time thinking about children who grow up around guns. There are a great number of younger suicides a day. I grew up with my two guns, my membership in the NRA, and I was listed on their mailing list. As a child I was fascinated with the guns our father had. There were my two guns, a shotgun and a 22 rifle, and my father’s pistol, as well as my brother’s two rifles. This fascinated me. I had unlimited access to these weapons. There was an extreme amount of power in my hands back then. I do not believe that I ever thought of hurting someone, but that power was in my hands. Therefore, I cannot understand the lack of empathy for young people who are fascinated with gun.
The Lure of the Brady Bill
I am a proponent of the Brady Bill, and I met Mr. Brady when he visited the school I was teaching at, and I was very impressed by his mission and his experience. The Brady Bill argues that you wait until you are old enough for guns, I believe I have that right. It is like a car license but far more protected by the government and their lobbyists who stand on both sides of the issue while standing on the tenuous footsteps of the Second Amendment.
It is like having a legal license to drive a car. These young people are surrounded by the advertising and news on the use of small arms to settle differences. The youngsters are inundated with it.
Small Arms and the General Populace
There must be an attempt to see small arms as a threat to the general populace. I remember that a child brought a loaded pistol into his school. It is amazing to me that the children need to develop fear of children who do that type of thing. Normal kids that day saw the gun and were scared. The fact that a loaded gun was easy to get into a middle school was frightening. But it happened.
People who kill people may, as many attest to, be captured so that there crime can be understood. There were not enough bullets to kill the man who killed sixty people in Las Vegas and then took his own life. But, he took his own life, which is, in my opinion, the coward’s way out. It just does not add up. It was too late to get him because he killed himself. One serial killer, who murdered thirty nine people, was asked in his cell what his wishes were. They were to die quickly, as time in his cell was too painful. John Wayne Gacey was his name. He buried bodies, after they were reported to have been tortured, under his living room and under virtually every room in his house. My understanding is that the smell alerted the police. They then, according to stories, dug up what was left of the bodies. Gacey was executed, but it was done humanely. In Utah, seven people, one shooting a blank, volunteered to execute a murderer. Their aim was true. He died. But does not the act of killing another for killing someone make the action that of a killer himself? Just with a legal excuse to do it. I believe that the act of killing is heinous in its own right.
William Wallace (Braveheart)
In old England, William Wallace, Braveheart if you will, was summarily executed. He was slowly cut up and thrown to the bystanders. He was drawn and quartered. Maybe we should do that to mass murderers. Any one person who goes to trial should be forced to die in a way he would use himself, I believe. He needs to be found guilty of a major crime and he needs to be summarily executed. And I don’t believe in capital punishment. But I have to say that if I knew a victim of a mass murderer I would want to push the button, despite my misgivings.
Should the General Populace Become Mental Health Experts
A man’s mental health can be studied. The mental well-being of the person is vitally important. The mental illness, or lack of it, shows the mental health, or the lack of it, in the individual. That is very important, I believe. But so many of these people commit suicide with their guns, it is hard to determine what drove them to kill. If we are going to fight this we have to determine what we are fighting.
Small arms are not a right of the general populace. It should be an award for those who are faultless. They are too easy to get, and often they seem to easy to use. A late friend of mine told me that he had nine thousand rounds in his house. I asked what war he was going to fight in, and he laughed. It was really a serious question.
Nine Thousand Rounds
My friend died without using his rounds. Who knows who got them. Someone is walking around with enough gunpowder to take down a small city.
Are Guns a Terrorist Threat?
I am not saying that guns are the only terrorist threat, but they can be. They have used trucks to wipe out many people. Napoleon used water against groups in his battles. So, even water can be used as a weapon. We question people’s mental health. Those who have no guns can still murder or commit suicides. We need to delve into the people who are not well. We need to have some understanding about why people are dangerous to themselves or others.
I am with the Brady Bill. I believe in background checks for the sale of firearms. Restrictions for guns or automobiles should be the same. Your capability should be tested and retested. A number of years ago, a man killed seven of his co-workers in Massachusetts. There are still active shooters in Massachusetts, despite its strong gun controls. Many of the weapons emanate from border states that do not have the number of restrictions that Massachusetts has on the books. Many weapons in Massachusetts are plainly illegal.
Supposedly, gun possession in the state, will result in a one year sentence in prison. The actual facts seem to be grossly different. I have not heard of one person being sent to prison solely for gun ownership. There may be some effect, but it is unlikely to be as restrictive as the law demands.
Laws and restrictions are less effective than delving into the mental health of the gun collector. It is also easier to go after someone’s mental condition. We need to protect the rights of our populace. I recently went to a dinner for a fishing club and the conversation quickly went to how deadly a certain type of rifle is. This was a talk about killing and that type of talk can be irresponsible and deadly.
So, let’s register gun owners, especially those with handguns. We do it to an extent now. In my opinion we need to do it more often. I was once a member of the National Rifle Association, and I owned rifles. I owned and took time to polish guns, specifically rifles. But I concluded that they were antique and cruel and unusual punishment, so I got rid of them. For our own mental well-being, let’s restrict guns. We need to restrict them just as we do automobiles. You may disagree with me but that is where I stand.