I can’t help but take note with this article “Guns, God and Background Checks” by Susan Estrich. It seems like someone who just wants to talk about gun control because it is a hot topic, and not because they have anything tangible or knowledgeable to add to the debate.
It gets tiring having to repeat this when people bring ‘God’ into gun debates. The belief that some deity controls the events and outcomes in your life is the exact same delusion that makes a mass killer believe that a particular group of people somehow control the events and outcomes in their life, thus seeking retribution by exterminating others for the wrongs the killer believes others have brought upon them. Religion has done the same thing over and over for thousands of years, exterminating infidels and non believers. If someone is trying to kill you and all you can do is pray to a deity, you’re a victim…plain and simple. You have a choice. You could choose to risk your life to stop the killer. Yes, possibly losing your own life to attempt to save your life or others, but would that not be a more noble death than cowering on the ground waiting for someone (or some unproven deity) to save you or hoping that ‘God’ makes the killer miss you while killing someone else? And if you truly believe in a ‘God’ and you might die trying to save yourself or others, what the hell are you afraid of that stops you from doing it? Wouldn’t that be an action that got you into heaven or whatever afterlife you believe in? That is a choice you have the ability to make. Or maybe you don’t truly believe in ‘God’ when it really gets down to the fear of death? Instead, you could certainly choose to get own your hands and knees and pray to a deity, making a great fixed target for a shooter. However, that was also your choice, not the deity’s. Believe in a deity if you want, but don’t try to make it the solution to everyone else’s problem. I’m not suggesting young children have much of a choice as far as not being victims in such a situation, but if a child is praying to ‘God’ at that age to save them then they’ve been programmed by someone else to believe in such a solution to their problems and fears. Most kids would be terrified and desire what they are familiar with to help them…mom, dad, maybe a favorite teacher they are starting to look up to. Mostly they’ll just be scared and confused. You could teach your kids options of things to do in such an event, just like they do for fire drills and tornado drills. Kids learn fast, and they can be pretty damn smart with a little information. I’m not sure why Susan Estrich thinks it is sad that she has thought about what she would do if there were a crazy person in her building…it’s about the only sensible thing she said in the whole article. Sad that she has to acknowledge it happens, maybe, but certainly prudent and taking personal responsibility that she has tried to think through actions to take should the scenario arise. It is a hell of a lot more effective than getting on your knees and praying. If your deity is both omniscient and omnipotent, then it knows you are there, it created the scenario and it might want you dead. Such a deity would not lack control over the initiation of the event, and yet have total control over the outcome…believing that would be insane. It is merely the difference between an individual delusion and mass delusion. At the end of the day, reaching for a deity during such an event is just replacing one delusion that is more accepted in society (religion) as a solution to another delusion which is not (I should kill the people who ruined my life.)
Or IS killing accepted in society? If all killers are mentally ill, then what does that make of the millions of people in the United States military? All trained to kill should the need arise. Are they mentally ill? Probably not. Susceptible to programming, sure, but mentally ill, no. And that is necessary to defend this country to some degree. You cannot suggest that all killers, or people willing to kill, are mentally ill. Some killers certainly are, there’s no doubt about that. Other killers have just reached the point where they feel murder is justified. Maybe it is a poor grade on an essay, or adultery, or flying two planes into the World Trade Center. Most of the world has a line that can be crossed that justifies killing. The debate then becomes, who’s line is acceptable? On one side of the line we say people are mentally ill, the other side of the line we call them Patriots, Heroes, Saviors. If you are classifying everyone who ultimately decides to kill as mentally ill, you’re missing much of the motivation people have for doing so, and therefore missing much of the solution for stopping it. The bottom line is, most people don’t want to accept the fact that many killers are ordinary people who have reached and crossed that dividing line, and it just isn’t the same line as yours…so we classify them as mentally ill in order to deal with it. Most people don’t want to acknowledge that their line may be deemed mentally ill by others, even though they have not reached a point of crossing their own line. I think the problem stems from fear of one’s self as much as it does a fear of guns…or in the case referenced in the cited article, a knife.
So, why would a law-abiding, mentally healthy person oppose background checks? Well, for starters it would mean that a person’s mental health, or possibly false evaluation of their health, would have to be made somewhat publicly available. Otherwise it is true that background checks would not stop mentally ill people from buying guns, only felons. It also opens up subjectivity in the ideology of what is “mentally deficient” when deciding who can or cannot possess a weapon. Do you have to have been committed to an institution? Do you have to have a history of seeing a therapist? Could you have merely had a drunken moment which turned into a 5150 violation? Maybe you’re deemed mentally deficient if you’re currently going through a divorce (confiscate all your weapons), or maybe a death in the family since that is traumatic (confiscate all your weapons) or maybe you’ve just lost your job (confiscate all your weapons)..the list of events that could possibly make someone ‘temporarily’ mentally unstable and commit a crime is endless. Maybe loners should be segregated and denied gun rights as mentally deficient, or maybe people susceptible to joining groups like cults and religions should have their gun rights denied. (I don’t know how many times I’ve heard religious people say non-religious people should not be allowed to have guns…I’ve honestly lost count) If you follow sports teams fanatically which have no impact or bearing on your personal life, maybe you are mentally deficient. Drink beer, wine, whiskey…there’s a potential to become mentally deficient a few glasses in. Someone has threatened to kill you? My, that is stressful (confiscate all your weapons.) At some point, someone could very well deem you mentally deficient when you aren’t…I’ve seen it happen to someone first hand. At that point, yes they will actively take your guns away…I’ve seen that happen as well. If a law or contract allows an action, even if you don’t think it could ever be taken, at some point it will. Second, another problem with background checks on private party transactions will be that criminals will most likely start targeting private party sales for thefts…most likely armed thefts…since they can no longer get the guns through private party transactions otherwise. It creates a great prospect for a criminal…always has, but in the past they could merely purchase the gun and avoid committing greater crimes. I will be shocked if background checks on private party sales don’t lead to more crimes committed during the ‘sale’ itself, with the criminal ultimately still getting a gun. Or worse, people selling guns will be so paranoid they’ll have loaded guns at the sale, possibly the gun for sale, and accidental deaths and bad shootings of innocent people will rise in those scenarios. Overall, I support extending the background checks to private party sales under certain conditions, but you can be certain it is not going to be a solution that does not create an entirely new problem to some degree. Private party transactions will become much less safe to conduct. It is not merely a ‘non-controversial’ issue.
Here is the part of her article I love most:
Meanwhile, back in Washington, a minor miracle was unfolding. Two NRA stalwarts in the Senate, one a Republican and one a Democrat, had reached a compromise that would allow a bill to expand background checks for gun purchases to move toward a vote. It is a ways from becoming law, but it is the first such bill in years that has not been “killed” before even getting to the point of consideration by the Senate.
A ‘minor miracle’ that background checks can move towards a vote. Huh? As if everybody in the world wants what she wants, except the NRA, and ‘God’ has performed a minor miracle to make it happen? If the majority of people want that legislation, it’s called Democracy, not a miracle. If they don’t…well, it’s still called Democracy. Maybe it just isn’t sound legislation being proposed. I also love how she puts “killed” in quotes to suggest that those who oppose the present incarnations of background checks are KILLERS. She might think it is cute, but it is a passive/aggressive way of blaming these Senators for the deaths created by actual killers. Susan Estrich appears to see things from only an emotional perspective and wants to suggest anyone who opposes current gun control legislation as it stands are killers (or I guess either mentally ill or not law-abiding citizens.) It is an extremely uninformed article which places a lot of blame for not adopting a specific solution (background checks), yet she can’t explain how that specific solution would solve anything while herself showing how it won’t, and then asking the same old question as to HOW to make HER solution work. It’s like saying “I know praying doesn’t work, but I want praying to be the solution so everyone should stop arguing about the lack of effectiveness of praying and figure out how to make praying work.” Frankly, I think she may be mentally ill as evidenced by the fact that she only has a limited capacity to understand the full scope of the problem at hand, along with understanding the chain of events each solution will logically create down the road. If a theory is disproved you can’t just keep adding exceptions to the theory in order to not admit it no longer holds water, you need to start testing new theories. I would expect more logic from a lawyer, a more educated perspective from a professor and certainly a better overall argument from a Harvard grad. But then again, maybe this is nothing more than well thought out political propaganda designed merely to distract people from the facts and not really address any issues at all…just place blame.