Guns, the NRA, and mental health: What do we do?

Colin Roberts, Copy Editor

I am not really in the mood to talk about school shootings. We do this every couple of months. I know your lines, you know mine.

I guess this time around it was a little more absurd. We are all amping up the rhetoric. Both sides are digging in, adamant that the other bears the blood of the victims.

For two weeks now I have been on Twitter, and in the Fox News and Gizmodo comments section, trying to piece together what the hell is happening.

There were few new arguments, just the old, yelled louder. Liberals were saying it was guns, conservatives were saying it is mental health. Centrists were unhelpful as always.

Many claimed the NRA is complicit in school shooting deaths. Others claimed the media was ignorantly targeting the organization.

So is it about the guns? Or mental health? Is the NRA fanning the flames?

Some say that if mental health was addressed in this country, we could responsibly own guns. And they are absolutely correct.

But, addressing mental health in America takes money. We have to consciously, as a nation, elect leaders who will pour major efforts into fixing the mental health systems we have in place, as well as establishing new ones. We have to look at the 1.5 trillion spent on the latest dud from Lockheed Martin, and earmark a couple million for our children.

Most people understand that is never going to happen. Liberals hate conservatives, conservatives hate liberals, everybody is going to keep collecting checks no matter how many kids die. And you are living in a fantasy if you think the NRA is going to donate anything to the cause of mental health.

Unfortunately, the NRA is concerned with one thing and on thing only: the NRA. That is as far as I will go, because some people shut off the moment you start talking about them, but please, research for yourself. They are not here to help the victims of gun violence.

For some though, it is not a matter of addressing mental health or access to guns. For some it is simply about good guys with guns versus the sicko shooters in the world.

It is these people who offer the idea that if we just armed teachers, we could protect our children. Most reasonable people gawk at this idea. More police officers? Teachers with guns? Just what kind of atmosphere is that going to produce in a classroom? Are we at war? Are our schools Ground Zero?

Let us pretend for a moment that arming teachers was even close to a sane response. Which teachers get the guns? What type of guns are they? How long are they trained? Who pays for the training? What should be the penalty if a teacher shoots a kid?

OK, we are done pretending, see how stupid this is?

The reasonable fix to our War on Children, the temporary one, if that is what it takes to sell it, is to ban the guns. You know the ones. Not the hunting rifles, not the small-caliber handguns. Ban the guns that are repeatedly showing up in school shootings.

Or, at the very, very least, make them more difficult to obtain.

I am pro-gun, despite being liberal. I own a pair of fine-looking modded Heckler and Koch models, and I will put money down I can outshoot any of you at the range. I will also sell them to a trusted relative soon. It is just not worth the social cost of owning them.

I know that is a hard sell. But, I am asking you to make the hard choice. We can keep our Glocks and Bushmasters and easy access, and we can keep having this conversation while the kids pile up, or we can make a sacrifice for our children. Now there would be the actions of a real patriot, worthy of the American flag in their Twitter handle.

And to those who claim that is exactly what Big Government and the U.N. want, be reasonable. We lost our little “Red Dawn” fantasy the moment the Air Force upgraded the Predator Drone. It is not about protecting yourself from government takeovers anymore, the woods and your friends in the armed forces will not save you from a bunker-buster payload.

I have lost track of the number of shootings. There are so many, I almost forgot about the one a town over. I have not said anything that somebody else has not said a hundred times before. So unless we make the incredible choice to make mental health a priority, please, at the very least vote for leaders who will restrict access to guns, before it is your children’s friends who are crying on CNN.

Colin Roberts is a senior English major. He can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected].