Bad Liberal time: I’m okay with guns.
I grew up around ’em, and I’m suburban. Daddy was a collector for a bit, when we could afford to go scouting for Soviet museum pieces. He’s a trained marksman (trained under two armies, no less) and he always had the paperwork in order for his collection. People always joke about scaring their daughters’ boyfriends by showing them the rifles upstairs; Dad may have done that.
Neither of us are neurotypical. Neither of us would hurt anyone but ourselves, and since we understand that, we store bolts, rifles, and ammunition in separate places. It puts space between impulse and action. This is Suicide Prevention 101.
I would carry concealed. I have no particular reason to do so, and I have no training, so I do not carry concealed. But I would. And I don’t judge others who do, nor do I judge those who would like to carry open (hey, at least I can see what you’re packing). I have no reason to fear. I go about my business without intruding into others’. If a person decides to shoot me, there is nothing I can do to change that thought process except if the person is putting space between impulse and action. Then there is time to attempt a calm talk-down. If I am shot anyway, either I die — which means I don’t have to care, per the Soldier’s Philosophy* — or I’m injured and the law will likely compensate me. Worst-case, I adapt to a new level of disability.
I don’t think it’s mental illness to blame for most people who commit mass shootings and domestic terrorism (the latter being what happened in Charleston). I think it’s society’s illness. I also think it’s dangerous at best and usually bigoted to conflate the two. Much of the violence here in Rochester is between perfectly sane young men who have no reason to shoot anyone but each other, with weapons obtained illegally. The little dirtbag who shot up Emanuel AME was [edited to amend] apparently not as sane, but no more insane than, well, I am, and I’d love to know what “narcotics” supposedly prompted this attack. He was a racist. He was a supremacist. He knew what he was doing and why, and he did it having sat through a whole prayer session. Then he left the scene, was apprehended, and confessed to his deeds. He didn’t snap one day; he’d made previous threats that went ignored by those who heard them.
You lump me and my dad in with him, I’m going to give you the coldest shoulder going.
Because society is what’s sick here. Brain chemistry didn’t make the perpetrator a racist. Environment did. This is oft as not the case with mass shooters. Underlying mental illness alone is not enough to make a killer, or you’d have to be afraid of a greater proportion of the population than you likely are. I cannot say with authority what specific puzzle piece completes the picture, but if it were, in fact, Being Mad, trust me, this landscape would be far bloodier than it is.
Restriction of Second Amendment rights based solely on neurodiversity should not be on the table. Correlation is not causation. We are not going to kill (either ourselves or others) because our brains work differently from yours. Our Constitutional rights should not be abrogated in the name of “safety” without the research to back it up, and by “the research” I mean papers, plural, from multiple and diverse sources showing conclusively which people with which mental illnesses may be more likely to misuse a gun. “Rules that are necessary for safe operation of a program, service, or activity are allowed, but they must be based on a current, objective assessment of the actual risk, not on assumptions, stereotypes, or generalizations about people who have disabilities.” (here)
I grant you it may mean I go through an extra examination if I do apply for a concealed carry permit. I have no reason to withhold my psychiatrist’s opinion, or my therapist’s. Or my last therapist’s. Or the one before that. Or my GP’s. They’ll all tell you what they think of my brain. Whatever their personal feelings on the Second Amendment, I am hopeful they would treat the matter objectively. I will give any necessary interview to any official. I have nothing to hide.
If you would be afraid of me with a pistol, ask yourself this: why are you not afraid of me when I drive? Why are you not concerned about what may be sitting in my purse? After all, I hang around people who throw knives very accurately. Would you tell me not to take up knife-throwing because I might be a threat? Would you tell me not to resume archery for the same reason? (Note please that an SCA-compatible bow and arrows were used as the murder weapon in an episode of “Midsomer Murders”. I remember wondering exactly what the murderer was pulling, poundwise, in order to kill a man at that distance. Also, Agincourt.)
Let us introduce rational discourse into what is, no pun intended, a loaded subject.** Let us rewrite our current dysfunctional laws according to what is true in the light of day, not what we fear when we lie abed at three in the morning — and this is sauce for goose and gander alike. Let us consider the Second Amendment in its eighteenth-century context with an eye to translating it for twenty-first-century use.
Put space between impulse and action, and put that space to good use.
* “If you recover, there is no need to worry; if you die, you can’t worry.”
** I’m a herald. I don’t pun. I cant. (And can’t help it.)