Richard Burt: What if owning a gun is a mental illness?
Published: Friday, January 4, 2013 at 3:44 p.m.
Last Modified: Friday, January 4, 2013 at 3:44 p.m.
The day of the Newtown massacre, the NRA's first responder surrogates argued on TV and other news outlets that we need better mental health insurance, not gun control. Days later, journalists like Ezra Klein showed that the only variable that determines the number of gun related deaths is the relative strictness of gun control in the area. Mental health had nothing to do with it.
Gun control advocates followed suit with similar studies.
Neither side has thought to ask a crucial question, however. What if owning a gun is a mental illness? Everyone talks about assault rifles and magazines, as if they posed the only threat to public safety. But let's take the case of seemingly innocuous handgun owners.
What do handgun owners fear most? That they may be attacked in their homes? That a stranger somewhere in public will point a gun in their direction? That the gun owner might get shot somewhere, sometime, somehow? The answer is none of the above. What handgun owners fear most is the government coming to take their guns away. I've heard gun owners say it again and again.
That's what NRA President Wayne Pierre said would happen if Obama were re-elected even though Obama had never said one word about gun control in his first-term. Obama's position on gun control and Mitt Romney's were identical. Both said existing laws were good enough. Perhaps Wayne Pierre was just fear-mongering. But the gun-owners he wants to motivate to vote are scared an elected President will turn into a dictator and somehow manage to confiscate every gun in the country.
This is not just sheer nonsense. It is not just irrational fear or magical thinking. It is certifiably, delusional, learned ignorance. That handgun owning is a potentially lethal mental disease becomes blindingly obvious once you consider the utter kookiness of supposedly logical “reasons” pro-gun advocates give to make sure another Newtown massacre doesn't happen. Let kids have guns in schools! Arm the teachers! Arm the children! Shoot at will and call it self-defense. You were just standing your ground. Allow prayer in school. After all, you're only free if you own a gun. On and on the pro-gun crazy goes. It just proves my point.
The clearest evidence that handgun owners are insane is their belief that handgun owners never make a mistake. Accidental deaths? They don't exist. Of course not. As we all know, every shooting, even by a cop, is justified, and every shooter hits a bull's eye. And no former member of the U.S. military ever became a domestic terrorist. (Timothy McVeigh who?) It's no surprise that right-wing Christian fanatics support handguns, not to mention assault rifles. Prayer in schools is the answer? Right. That'll work. Prayer in churches sure did a lot to protect all those children from sexual molestation by church members. Do I need to say more?
It's time the AMA defined gun ownership as a serious mental disease, classified under acute paranoia, anxiety, attachment disorder, and borderline psychotic personality disorder. And it's time health insurance coverage for this disorder be made available for free. No co-pay required. Surely the FDA will approve a drug designed specifically to treat handgun owning for what it is, a dangerous disease that, left unrecognized, poses a serious risk to our health and safety every single day.
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