I realize I will most likely receive backlash for this however it should be noted that at the time my writing this the media is reporting that at least 26 people (20 children) are dead at a school in Newtown, CT due to the latest episode of gun violence in our country.
Since 2000, there have been no less than 18 episodes of gun violence (mass shootings) carried out with a total of 176 dead and many more injured in the US. I think it is important to note that since from 2000-2005, there were only 3 of these crimes and from 2005 until 2012 there have been 14. All of these killings have been carried out by men and there are a few other interesting trends. (Source Los Angeles Times)
* 53% were carried out by men under the age of 30.
* 29% were carried out by students (high school or college)
* 82% occurred between 2005 – 2012 (The Brady Bill which on assault weapons was allowed to expire on September 13, 2004)
* 31% occurred between 2010 -2012
* 18% occurred between 2000-2005
From 2000 – 2008 lobbying by the National Rifle Association spending for the most part was essentially flat due to what I would assume was a more firearm friendly Republican atmosphere in Washington and a war time environment. You will note that from 2008 –present, the spending has almost doubled which again leads me to conclude is due to a Democratic and traditionally anti-gun environment. Note that 2012 totals are not complete however they are included through June of this year below and suggest the same aggressive spending pattern.
Mental Heath Services
Since fiscal year 2009 (most recent data available), states have cut more than $1.6 billion in general funds from mental health agency budgets (source NAMI). The state cuts also coincide with recent declines in federal Medicaid funds which all but eliminate any mental health safety net.
Based on these facts, I wanted to ask 3 questions:
- Does it make sense as a society to allow guns to be readily available given our track record? Personally, I think the time has passed and we need a new model of ownership. Interestingly, I am not anti-gun. Instead, I feel that we have not looked into other options for ownership or been creative about it assuming that an all or nothing model applies.
- Is the NRA helping or hurting the cause by throwing money at our lawmakers with the hope to dampen or eliminate laws that “might” otherwise serve the general public to lessen these crimes? While I believe that those who belong to the NRA truly believe in responsible gun ownership, I also believe the NRA is hurting the society at large through their lobbying.
- How will cutting or eliminating an already frail safety net serve the general public in proactively detecting some of these men before it is too late?
As a society, I do not understand how we can turn our back and assume that if we ignore mental illness and lax gun control laws these scenarios will simply go away.