By Jim Powers
Here we are again. A bullied kid turns into an angry teen who buys a couple of guns on his 18th birthday and takes out his frustration on children in an elementary school. And with a mid-term election fast approaching, politician’s outrage is raising to a fever pitch. The events are awful. Shouldn’t have happened. Heartbreaking.
Of course, the senseless loss of life is maddening. But, as usual, renewed demand for gun control overwhelms any hope of solving the real problem of disaffection in our society. I’m an old guy. I grew up in a different world. One common denominator though was that the world I grew up in was awash with guns. And, it was a lot easier to buy a gun.
Walk into one of the popular GI Surplus stores in East Texas during the 1960s and you would find barrows scattered around the store stuffed with military surplus rifles from various countries.
In one barrow would be Italian Carcano rifles in 6.5 caliber, in another variations of the British Lee-Enfield in .303 caliber, and on and on. Not locked up behind a counter. I bought both as a teenager, just picked one out of the barrow, plunked down $10 bucks, and walked out the door. Nothing to sign, no background check. I would get home with the gun, hang in on the wall loaded in an open gun rack, without concern.
If the difference isn’t the availability of guns, which are much harder to legally own these days, it’s hard to blame the guns. But blaming the guns is easier than dealing with the real problems of our society. What are those problems?
One factor in the rise of gun crimes is population. The U.S. population in 1960 was 180 million. It is now 329 million. People are more crowded together, and as the population grows, the number of bad guys grows with it.
Another factor is the difficulty in this country of accessing mental health care. Unless you regularly fantasize about buying a couple of rifles and killing a lot of elementary school children, you understand that your average well-adjusted person isn’t a mass murderer, even if he has access to a hundred guns and thousands of rounds of ammo.
And then there is the Internet and social media, where mental health challenged people are regularly radicalized by constant bombardment with bizarre and dangerous conspiracy theories.
Yeah, I get it. It’s easier to ban gun-shaped objects than solve the social and mental health issues plaguing our country. And it’s a convenient rallying cry for politicians seeking office or re-election. But the gun control debate is only a distraction from solutions to heal our sick society.
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