Monday, December 17, 2012

My two cents worth

On December 14, 2012, Michigan lawmakers in both the House and Senate passed SB 59, which would enable individuals with concealed weapons (there are 351,599 of them in the state currently) to carry their weapons into schools, day cares, hospitals, dorms, casinos, and any public entertainment venue with a capacity of more than 2500 people. The bill would also make it easier to obtain a concealed weapon permit. As you may suspect, the bill is opposed by the Michigan Sheriff’s Association, the Michigan Association of School Administrators, and at least a few of the churches in the state.

The bill won’t become law until Governor Rick Snyder signs it. In view of the national outrage over the school shootings in Connecticut, he would be “less than prudent” if he signed the thing into law.

Politicians of all stripes have expressed their sympathy for the families of the victims, and President Obama used his strongest language to date on the topic when he said he would use “whatever power this office holds” to stop further gun massacres.

Stricter gun laws are only the part of the answer. I’ve already written my congressman, and asked him to lobby for a NATIONAL law that emulates California’s gun laws, which are currently the strictest in the country:

how tough are gun laws in YOUR state?

As the chart in the above link indicates, the vast majority of the gun laws in the country are rated as “weakest” by the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. Even though Connecticut is listed as having strong gun laws, it’s apparent that laws alone aren’t the only answer.

It's also very clear that arming teachers isn't the right solution, nor is allowing more guns in our society. The United States has, by far, the highest rate of gun ownership per capita in the world, but the annual homicide rate by firearms is TEN TIMES the combined total of the rest of the "high income" developed countries..

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, 26.2% of the American population suffers from type of mental illness, which means that it would be virtually impossible to prevent most of them from creating mayhem. The only possible way to prevent some of these folks from creating havoc with a firearm is to make sure that it is much more difficult for EVERYBODY to get access to a gun.

If you haven't purchased a gun lately, it may surprise you to know that both Federal and state gun purchase applications ask, "have you ever been declared incompetent or involuntarily committed to a mental institution?". In the vast majority of cases, neither state or Federal authorities verify the answer to the question. Even if an individual has a verifiable mental illness problem, it's unlikely that they'll make it into the National Instant Background Check System (NICS). In Colorado, it was determined that only 1% of the people with disqualifying mental health histories make it onto the NICS.

Beyond limiting access to guns, it’s also important to change society’s ATTITUDE towards guns, and I’ll give you a few quick examples:

1) For the third year in a row, the Scottsdale Gun Club took pictures of kids with Santa - and a firearm - which caused me to mail a letter to the manager of the club this morning urging him to stop all further events of this type. In my opinion, it was a foolish idea in 2010, an irresponsible idea in 2011 (the year that Gabrielle Giffords and 18 other people were shot in Tucson), and it became absolutely stupid this year when the first event was held less than 4 months after the Colorado theater shootings.

If you’d like to write your own letter, the contact information is as follows:

Mr. Ron Kennedy, club manager

Scottsdale Gun Club

14860 North Northsight Boulevard

Scottsdale, AZ 85260

The club’s website address is shown below:

would you like to rent a machine gun?

2) On April 28, 2011, the Arizona legislature passed a bill naming the Colt revolver the official gun of the State of Arizona, and Governor Brewer signed the bill. Bear in the mind that this bill was signed into law less than three months after Gabrielle Giffords and 18 other people were shot in Tucson. Since this bill is unbelievably stupid, I'm going to write some letters to the legislature once they reconvene in January, and ask them to reverse the bill.


Charlotte Bacon, 6

Daniel Barden, 7

Rachel Davino, 29

Olivia Engel, 6

Josephine Gay, 7

Ana Marguez-Greene, 6

Dylan Hockley, 6

Dawn Hochsprung, 47

Madeline Hsu, 6

Catherine Hubbard, 6

Chase Kowalski, 7

Jesse Lewis, 6

James Mattiolli, 6

Grace McDonnell, 7

Anne Marie Murphy, 52

Emilie Parker, 6

Jack Pinto, 6

Noah Pozner, 6

Caroline Previdi, 6

Jessica Rekos, 6

Avielle Richman, 6

Lauren Rousseau, 30

Mary Sherlach, 56

Victoria Soto, 27

Benjamin Wheeler, 6

Allison Wyatt, 6

To quote Forrest Gump, that’s all that I got to say.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Tom, Good post. I wonder if the 26% stat on mental illness might be due to the fact that a therapist must diagnose a client with something in order for visits to be covered by insurance. Some of thos 26% may just be mildly depressed or experiencing low level anxiety, or ven just grieving the loss of a loved one. What a tangle of issues the Newtown massacre and other shootings have highlighted! I agree all these lax gun laws - I think Illinois' concealed weapon ban was just deemed unconstitutional last week - are ridiculous in this era.