Symbols of Human Failure

The guns and the bombs, the rockets and the warships, are all symbols of human failure. — Lyndon B. Johnson

To say that I don’t like guns is an understatement. Hell, to say that I loathe or despise them might even be an understatement. I don’t ever remember liking them or feeling good about them, but maybe that makes sense. I did spend 7 of the first 8 years of my life in a neighborhood plagued by violence–across the street from one of the many drug dealers that lived there, at the corner where all the gangs of that area liked to come to play, etc. Then, when my parents could no longer afford to live in that house and we moved in with Dadada, I got to experience life with an ex-convict (car theft; he’d also called in a threat to radio or tv station once) who had an affinity for guns and bombs. His affinity meant that we found guns and gun parts all over the house. I saw one when I was 8, out in the open, and it scared me. I saw another when we were cleaning the house up after it was condemned. My mom has not only seen them through the years we’ve been here, she got to experience one being put at her back when he walked into the kitchen once and decided to scare her.

I think I have good reasons to not like guns. I don’t like guns because I know that kids can get ahold of them. I don’t like them because I know that ex-convicts can get them, too. (Many aren’t supposed to, but do anyway.) I don’t like them because I know that there are people who are severely mentally ill that have better access to guns than they do to mental health care. I don’t like guns because I’ve been watching the news since I was young and I’ve seen tragedy after tragedy of people killed by guns.

Tragedies happen so often that it’s always considered improper to discuss gun violence and stricter gun laws. That should tell our society something. If you have enough significant tragedies that occur with a particular weapon that it becomes wrong to discuss that particular weapon, there is a problem. It’s kind of like if you’ve gotten so many times a week that you can’t remember actually being sober, then you would be told that you have a problem. Gun violence is a problem.

Mass shootings are almost normal in America these days. And of the “twenty worst mass shootings” in the world, eleven of them happened in America. Eleven of twenty, or 55%. More than half of the worst shootings in the world happened in one country. Five of those shootings have happened in the last five years.

If you want to argue that people who do commit these acts aren’t getting the weapons legally, then you should know that you’re wrong. In most mass shootings that take place in America, perpetrators of mass shootings are getting their firearms legally. If you want to argue that people who commit acts of gun violence would still do them if there were stricter gun control laws in place, then you would also be wrong. And in states where there are stricter gun laws, gun violence is lower.

This year, there has been a 48% increase in gun purchases, according to Smith and Wesson. That’s not unusual for a year that a Democrat is elected as President. (It’s pretty much the norm, because many people seem to think that guns are going to become more restricted during Democratic presidencies.)

This year, there have also been cuts in the funding of mental health care budgets for 29 of the 50 states. Mentally ill people have lost the ability to get their medications, therapy, hospitalizations, etc. which is dangerous for them and dangerous for society.  It is cheaper for them to spend $400-$600 to get a handgun than it is to pay the $660 for a month of Abilify (anti-psychotic), the $400 for an antidepressant, the $100 for therapy, the $200 for a visit to a psychiatrist, and at least the $2000 per day for a trip to a psych ward so that they can transition onto their medicines properly.

It is cheaper in this country for a person to end their life or to end the lives of other people than it is for them to get help. We have put our country, our people, our children in danger because it is more economically feasible to cut mental health care and and politically savvy to allow for less restrictive gun policies. We’ve put a price on the lives of everyone in this country. That is a problem.

About Janet Morris

I'm from Huntsville, Alabama. I've got as many college credits as a doctorate candidate, and the GPA of some of them, too. I have a boss by the name of Amy Pond. She's a dachshund. My parents both grew up in Alabama.