Dig Baton Rouge

Reign of a madness we define

By Rande Archer

It’s a week of violence-ridden headlines in America – two shootings, one in our home state and the other in the state of Virginia. Again we ask: “What can we do to stop shootings like these?”

There are multiple sides to this argument, one side will want the United States to issue concealed carry licenses and handguns as if they’re receipts you get from CVS. Another side wants the complete abandonment of firearms and Second Amendment rights. However none of those are my stances, being a law-abiding, firearm-owning citizen puts me into a unique situation in this dialog.

Some news media have it out for me. There’s no way around it. Yes, I own firearms that are categorized as “mass killing instruments” and some people even call them baby killers. But they are just tools – instruments. Just as knives, crowbars, that pronged thing you use to stab fires, axes, or hammers are tools. But people still use them to carry out acts of violence and terrorism. Now one of the questions being presented in our national dialog here is “why should you have them?” in addition to the well rehearsed “why don’t we have more common sense gun laws?” The thing is, the gun laws we have now are terrific. They work great.

In the state of Louisiana you cannot purchase a firearm from a gun store without going through the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System, or NICS. Sure you can purchase a firearm without this check via a private sale, but that doesn’t make up the majority of firearm sales. Storefronts are the cash cows for firearms, not private citizens. Even with private sales, the sale is left to the discretion of the seller. If the buyer is shady, the seller can just say no. It’s in my opinion we don’t need better gun laws, but better enforcement.

String purchases, where a clean record holding relative or friend of a criminal purchases the firearm for them, are extremely common and these slip through the cracks allowing individuals who otherwise would be barred from purchasing them to get them. Better sales training and string purchase fines should be implemented, but better enforcement of such laws is just one small fix for this larger problem. The real issue here is health care.

Mental health care in the United States is pitiful and in a disgusting state. The general attitude and handling of the subject is handled in this country as if the mentally unstable or sick are radioactive. Pushing them into an “out of sight, out of mind” mentality that currently permeates these states. This is a serious issue that keeps being put on the back burner of national discussion; with the media are always quick to blame firearms as a quick remedy to a situation that has been festering in this country since the deregulation of health care in the ‘70s. Taking away firearms and patting yourself on the back isn’t going to change minds or acts of violence. This shouldn’t be an instance of “lock them up and throw away the key.”

This is an instance that requires our nation to care and have heart. These are people who are pushed to mental limits because their society has labeled them as an outcast – their friends and family ignoring signs and symptoms. But this doesn’t excuse these violent and evil actions. It takes a special evil that broods in someone heart to carry out such an act. But the fact remains that it broods. This isn’t an idea or feeling in these people that shows up overnight. It’s a build up of mental instability and emotional destruction. Yes these people are to blame, but this nation and its approach to mental health is too, and it isn’t something you can put legislative Neosporin and a legal band-aid on to fix.

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