Saturday, December 15, 2012

It's not just the mass shootings

In the last 30 years, the U.S. has had 62 mass shootings.  70 were shot in a crowded movie theater this summer.  Last year, outside a grocery store, a U.S. Congresswoman was shot in the head and a federal judge was killed.  In 2009, four cops were killed in Oakland and eight months later, four cops were killed in Parkland, Washington.

But it's not just about the mass shootings, which receive media attention.  It's the single homicides.  Every year, over 10,000 people are murdered.  The homicides are ignored and forgotten because the victims are generally poor and black/brown.

Here are the 103 murder victims in Oakland in 2011.  The overwhelming majority of them died due to guns.  With two weeks remaining, Oakland's 2012 murder count will be at least 122.  Its population is just 400,000.

Banning all guns is not the solution.  But we need more effective gun control policies with strong enforcement mechanisms.  And we need an overhaul of our country's mental health care system.

If the deaths of 20 elementary schoolers won't get us to act, then there is no hope for humanity.


John L said...

It looks like it's too easy for people with mental health problems to buy a gun over there.

m4ff3w said...

My best friend growing up committed one of the 62 mass killings. I can't imagine what was going through his head when he murdered 5 (injured another) and then took his own life. The news reports made it sound like he was upset at his supervisor for reprimanding him for using a cell phone at work - but no one in a normal mental state would do such a heinous act over something so trivial.

He wasn't on any illegal drugs at the time - though he was seeing a "pain management" doctor for lingering pain after a sever car accident 6 or 7 years prior. He may have been on antidepressants as well.

Actually, I think antidepressants may be a very common thread in instances such as this, I know my wife and I have know 3 friends on SSRIs that have committed suicide, luckily those 3 did not injure/kill others like my previously mentioned friend.

As for gun control - I'm not an advocate. But I think if someone it intent on harming others, they will do so:

May 18, 1927: Bath, Michigan School treasurer Andrew Kehoe, after killing his wife and destroying his house and farm, blew up the Bath Consolidated School by detonating dynamite in the basement of the school, killing 38 people, mostly children. He then pulled up to the school in his Ford car, then set off a truck bomb, killing himself and four others. Only one shot was fired in order to detonate dynamite in the car. This was deadliest act of mass murder at a school in the United States.

Maxichamp said...

@m4: Thank you for sharing. People with chronic pain are often depressed so the pain management docs give them anti-depressants. This is just sad all around.

Edvin said...

This is beyond sad. Mental health issues should be taken more seriously.

I know gun control may not be a practical solution, but I personally don't understand what purpose semi-automatic rifles serve. I don't like it but I can see the reasoning for having a handgun for personal protection. Rifles like the one the shooter used don't belong in the hands of the public. Just my $0.02.

MattC said...

I just want to say that after all the rhetoric being thrown around after every shooting, that your post finally focuses on the underlying issue of almost every spree shooter. Mental health problems are linked to every school shooter. The media does tend to place a large responsibility to inanimate objects (i.e. guns) and not the intention of the shooter.

For the record, I am an NRA member, a former police officer and a licensed gun owner. However, that being said, buying a gun should also come with a mandatory training course (currently the NRA course is recommended but not required). I also feel that gun ownership is a right but also a tremendous responsibility.

School shootings/attacks are an unfortunate worldwide occurrence (in fact China just had a school stabbing(23 involved) the day before the Newtown incident). But the underlying factor again is mental illness of the perpetrator.

I understand the emotion to try to find sense in a senseless crime. However, I do feel that heated arguments on either side of the gun issue only exasperates the situation. I do not have a simple answer for the spate of recent shootings. That may be the crux of the problem because narrowing the causes down to one convenient reason is disingenuous at best and downright harmful at worst.

m4ff3w said...

@Edvin. The whole reason for the 2nd amendment is to allow us to protect ourselves from a malicious government. While it may seem unlikely, at some point in the future there will be an uprising against the government. Maybe it is next year - maybe not for 150 years. But the citizens must be able to revolt.

"Government is not reason, nor eloquence. It is force. And like fire, it is a dangerous servant and a fearsome master." -- George Washington