Okay, we are still waiting. We are still waiting for Congress to have the courage to deal with the real problem inherent in almost all of the mass killings that have captured the nation’s attention over the past several years. Instead, as usual, Congress seems intent on placing the burden on the innocent while completely ignoring the guilty.
In my column of January 25, 2013, I rattled off the names of those involved in these mass murders: Adam Lanza (Newton, CT), James Eagan Holmes, (Aurora, CO), Jared Lee Loughner (Tucson, AZ), Nidal Malik Hasan (Fort Hood, TX), Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold (Littleton, CO), Kip Kinkel, (Springfield, OR), and Jacob Roberts (Clackamas, OR). With the exception of Mr. Roberts, all were or had been under active counseling for mental health issues. Each of these killers would have passed existing background checks for the purchase of guns. Each of these killers would have passed the background checks being proposed in legislation pending before Congress. None of these killers bypassed current background checks via private sales or through straw purchases. Who would have thought that a person bent on murder might stoop to something so clearly illegal as stealing a gun?
Look, there are two big gapping holes in the law today that are the root of gun violence in America and the legislation pending in Congress fails to address either. The first is the mental health issue. Each of the killers referenced above, with the exception of Mr. Roberts, were known to the mental health community. In the aftermath of these tragedies we have learned, at least in the cases of Lanza, Holmes, Loughner, and Hasan that mental health professionals were extremely worried about the likelihood of violence that, in fact, did materialize. In the cases of Harris, Klebold and Kinkel school personnel were already aware of threats and actions by the killers that proved to be accurate predictors of the violence about to occur.
There is routine and overwhelming evidence of the likelihood that these acts will repeat themselves by others with mental problems that are already known to the mental health community and school officials. Information surrounding those with serious mental health issues are not only excluded from background checks, that information is shielded from scrutiny by those charged with protecting the public’s safety. And despite that these mental health issues were a significant contributing factor in these mass killings, neither President Barack Obama nor the commission chaired by Vice-president Joe Biden, nor the Congressional committees charged with seeking a solution to the problem have held a hearing, drafted a bill or given a speech about this problem. There may be some amendments offered to address the issue but those crying the loudest for gun control legislation have turned their backs on the mental health issues.
Even former astronaut Mark Kelly, husband of former Congresswoman Gabrielle Gifford (one of the victims of Jared Lee Loughner) and a leading advocate for additional gun control legislation urges inclusion of mental health issues in background checks .I have previously noted that a Phoenix psychiatrist, Dr. Horace Whittington has already suggested:
“A law requiring professionals to report potential dangerousness to a new public-health agency, staffed by highly qualified mental-health officials, would result in a careful assessment of dangerousness.”
But the same people who are so eager to trample on the rights of gun owners, are the ones who are wringing their hands over the “privacy issues” of those with mental health problems – even dangerous mental health problems. There will not be a provision for a centralized database for those with dangerous mental health problems in future background checks.
The second issue is the proliferation of automatic weapons in the hands of violent street gangs. We are not talking about semi-automatic weapons such as pistols and AR-15s. We are talking about fully automatic weapons capable of spewing nearly 1000 rounds per minute. (For those forced to endure a teachers’ union education in the Portland public schools that means that a fifteen round clip would empty in less than a second.) Oh, that’s right, fully automatic weapons are already banned without an expensive federal license and a more detailed background check. And yet that ban has not deterred the proliferation of these weapons particularly in the largest cities of states with the most restrictive gun control measures – Chicago, New York City, Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., Detroit, etc.
Scant attention is paid to this continuing problem primarily because of a strange alliance between callous racism in law enforcement and liberal ninnies who cannot focus on minority crime for fear of being labeled racist. The former pay little attention to black-on-black crime (or for that matter brown-on-brown crime) dismissing them as NHI – no humans involved. The latter blame everybody but the perpetrators in order to show their empathy with the downtrodden. Regardless, the problem continues and grows annually. Nothing in the legislation pending before Congress even recognizes this problem and certainly does nothing to address it. And nothing will be done because any determined effort will be quickly labeled as “racist” in order to pander to a captive constituency.
And yet, despite an approval rating of around twelve percent, voters continue to send over ninety percent of the members of Congress back each succeeding election. In doing so they give implicit approval to their failure to address the real problems facing America in favor of posturing, preening, and pussyfooting. If these represent the best and the brightest of America then the country is surely lost.