Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Real Cause of Mass Shootings?

Today Gov. Cuomo of New York signed into law new legislation that replaced existing law to redefine the assault rifle, limit the size of clips and place more restrictions on gun ownership in New York. Tomorrow, President Obama, surrounded by children, will announce Vice President's Biden's suggestions that President Obama agrees with as he looks to stem the tide of gun violence. Many believe that it will call for the ban on assault rifles and the elimination of large magazine clips.

Mother Jones, http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2012/07/mass-shootings-map?page=2; has posted a guide to mass shootings in the United States dating back to 1982. 62 mass shootings in all took place over the past 30 years. I took a look at the past ten years of history. Per the shootings reported by Mother Jones we 29 mass shootings with 475 people killed and injured. What the article doesn't discuss is the method used outside of the fact that they were shootings. Let's compare that ten year record to homicides reported in Chicago for 2012.

RedEye data, http://homicides.redeyechicago.com/, has listed a link to all homicides reported in 2012 and by method. After downloading the data and stripping out anything not gunshot related one is left with 442 people killed by gunshot. Now the data doesn't discern from handgun, shotgun, assault rifle, etc. 442 people were killed by gunshot in 2012 alone while we saw 475 people killed and injured during mass shooting over tens year period. Now, I do not diminish the deaths nor mock those that senselessly perished during mass shootings but we need to put the numbers into perspective as we allow our elected officials to use the Second Amendment as a hot political potato.

We can all agree that access to an assault rifle is not for hunting of any sort and the same time we can all agree that guns do not kill. What I mean is that a ridiculous it is to shield your pro-gun stance based on the recreational exercise of hunting as a reason to own an assault rifle lays on the same plane of logical argument of the anti-gun advocates that claim the gun is the killer. The gun does nothing until someone picks it up and uses it.

That person can use it to provide food, target practice, protection, and mass shootings. Again it goes back to the person behind the trigger and their intent on if the gun is being used with respect or being abused. Looking back at the list that Mother Jones put together a common theme exists among the shooters; degrees of mental illness. The trouble is that its not nearly as sexy or politically correct to put our thumb on mental illness as it is on the gun. The gun is the smoke; yet that smoke cannot materialize without the flint - human being.

While I do not promote the notion that returning to the arcane methods of dealing with mental illness and sending the medical community back into the Stone Age, there is something to be learned. Rumor has it that President Obama will address the mental illness aspect insofar that during the background check one will be searched, violating HIPPA in the process, for a history of mental illness along with a felony record. How do we tackle this slippery slope? If we say today it is okay to background check for mental illness what doors will that open for other illnesses for services or rights? When will someone in our political elite display a sober temper and re-direct the ship and deal with the issue at hand - the person behind the gun?