Opinion: In a rural Texas church, on Sunday ….

(AP)

“This isn’t a guns situation,” President Trump tells us after the horrific slaughter in a rural Texas church on Sunday. “This is a mental health problem at the highest level.”

In one sense, that’s true. This long, depressing string of random mass shootings should force us to acknowledge that for some, there is a cold romance in evil, in evil so unthinkable and outrageous that a dangerous few among us will be drawn to commit it, should the means be available.  It also seems probable that these men recognize something in each other, that they share an anger and alienation that has now found an outlet that appeals to them, and that like a disease is likely to spread.

Walking into a quiet country church during worship hour, dressed in black tactical gear and armed with an assault weapon, and mowing down parishioners as young as 18 months. Walking into church Bible study to kill black people; walking into a Connecticut elementary school to slaughter grade-schoolers; walking into a Vegas hotel and setting up a sniper’s nest in the 32nd floor, looking down upon tens of thousands of people knowing far more joy than you could, and killing and wounding more than 500 in a matter of a few minutes ….

Yes, there is undoubtedly a mental-health component to the problem.

However, that framing is also consciously misleading. It implies that if it’s a mental-health problem, then there must be a mental health solution. And even a cursory attempt to think through the problem tells us that there is not.¹ The idea that we are somehow going to find and pre-identify these people, that we’re going to pick a potential Devin Kelley or Stephen Paddock out of the crowd, that once they’re identified we’re going to somehow deny them access to weapons of mass destruction in a society that is awash in such tools — it’s pure nonsense. The argument that this is a mental-health problem is an argument for doing nothing, for simply accepting this carnage as a fact of modern life.

Personally, I do not accept that.

If the indiscriminate slaughter of large numbers of people has become a means of expression for those drawn to evil, then a wiser course might be to address the tools that allow them to carry out that fantasy, that partly inspire them to do so.  In fact, I firmly believe that the immense, military-grade firepower now available at the pull of a trigger finger is itself part of the intoxication, part of the power that fuels this madness. It creates an excitement and exhilaration among those predisposed to such evil that firearms lethal on a less-grand scale do not.

Those who have studied the history of tools and technology in human society speak of something called the “technological imperative.” Basically, the imperative argues that if a tool gives human beings the power to do something, somebody will do it. We will drive and we will text while driving, even if it’s not smart, because we can. We will rearrange our own genetic code, because we can; we will blow each other up with nuclear weapons, because we can. And if the power to kill large numbers of people in a short amount of time is placed in enough hands, then inevitably, that power will be used.

In most of those cases, and in many others as well, we have learned to erect legal, practical and ethical barricades to the abuse of machines and tools, to contain the technological imperative. It is madness to then suggest that there must be one form of machine, one technology, that is exempt from such regulation, especially when the primary function of that particular machine is to kill our fellow man.

Why choose that form of technology to be exalted, to be placed above all others? That is not what the Second Amendment requires of us, not as it was designed by the Founders and not as the courts have interpreted it. These high-capacity assault weapons are not constitutionally protected weapons of self-defense, and they aren’t being used for that purpose, yet we do nothing.

So in that sense, too, I guess our failure to recognize and act upon this is “a mental health problem at the highest level.”

———————–

¹ The very people who attempt to frame it as a mental-health issue are attempting to defund what little mental-health treatment is publicly available, and to frustrate attempts to keep firearms out of the hands of the mentally incompetent. Under a regulation that took effect in December, for example, those people determined by the Social Security Administration to be too mentally disabled to work, and who require a representative to handle their Social Security benefits, were deemed ineligible to buy firearms. The NRA objected, even though the regulation also gave those people the right to go to court to prove their mental competence to buy firearms.

In February, Congress did the NRA’s bidding by voting to overturn that regulation, once again allowing hundreds of thousands of people too incompetent to run their own affairs to go out and buy firearms. In the House, only two Republicans voted to retain the rule. In the Senate, none did. On Feb. 28, Trump signed the bill into law.

Fugitives from the law are also barred from buying guns legally, but in February the Trump administration weakened that protection as well, over the protests of the FBI. Under the new interpretation, that ban on gun purchase applies only to those fugitives who have fled across state lines; if you are a fugitive from a criminal charge trying to buy a gun legally in the state that is seeking your arrest, you are now allowed to do so.

Reader Comments 0

2356 comments
Deanna DuVall McDonald
Deanna DuVall McDonald

Wish legislators were as anxious to establish mental-health clinics and mental-health institutions as they are to disarm Americans and eliminate our ability to protect ourselves from the mentally ill who are running around untreated.

Donald Zlotnik
Donald Zlotnik

This is not a "mental health" issue--this is about GOOD and EVIL and always has been! :( The killer was EVIL.

Larry Davis
Larry Davis

Govt employee error. Affirmative Action is a wonderful thing.

Terry Wayne Bolding
Terry Wayne Bolding

Everybody in the family knew he was a ticking time-bomb and should have done something way before it came to this !

Lewis Clardy
Lewis Clardy

Bookman is a genuine ‘poster boy’ for the need of mental health programs in America....the little Democratic puppet is starting to believe the ‘manufactured scripts’ he is given to fill his articles...a total human waste...IMHO..!!!

John Dunn
John Dunn

"A total human waste" and you are going around talking about poster boys. Self awareness isn't one of your stronger traits.

Lewis Clardy
Lewis Clardy

John Dunn ...lot of noise from a ‘holster mouth’...

Donna Sherwood
Donna Sherwood

there is nothing to be done. too many guns laws on books already and criminals just in case these morons don't know generally do not get their weapons legally. "Cure" is for a generally armed populace where there is a reasonable hope someone is around when it starts and can stop it. Keep in mind police did not get here until two wonderful citizens had taken a high speed chase and got to moron. Another leftists hillary supporter of course. If someone with a gun had been on west street in NYC last week that freak could have been stopped as well. In Belgium where gun laws are stringent authorities approaching places like Molenbeek are met with semi automatic gun fire. where do people imagine they get those ?

Travis McCauley
Travis McCauley

without government.......who will not enforce laws government passes....

Charlton Harris
Charlton Harris

Check out the laughing emojis....old white men. Smh cult45

Chris Policronis
Chris Policronis

The sooner this is looked at as a mental health the better off all of us will be. Disarming the law abiding citizen is never the answer.

Sandra T S Simas
Sandra T S Simas

He shouldn’t have been a free man with all the things he’d been charged with.

Ruth McCormick
Ruth McCormick

What would the libs have done? Hit him with an umbrella? A good man with a weapon took down a bad guy with a gun. The law was in place but someone didnt follow it. It wasnt the gun it was a lack of following procedure.

Paul Mitchell
Paul Mitchell

Why is the U.S. the only industrialized nation where this happens consistently? 10,000 gun deaths annually vs. 3 in Japan last year.

Summer Smith
Summer Smith

Laws are already on the books that should have prevented this man from purchasing guns, but the government system failed and the negative data on the shooter was never input into the database by Air Force personnel. Even if all guns were banned.......the black market would flood the country with even more guns and high capacity magazines. Drugs are banned and illegal....how has that worked out........ This is all Political B.S.......and the politicians know it.... and are just pandering to the shallow thinking fools that believe gun control is the answer.

Buddy Hart
Buddy Hart

I think he was mental, and someone took advantage of him to do this terrible act

Carol Sweeney McQuain
Carol Sweeney McQuain

He was a sick evil man with a gun! History of violence and had escaped a mental hospital! The good guy with a gun kept him from harming more people!

Daniel Walton
Daniel Walton

The Airforce should have let authorities know about this mans background while in service with the Air force. Why?

Carl Augustus Nix III
Carl Augustus Nix III

Look at our problem with over medicating Americans since the 1980s when these issues started. We have had handheld machine guns that could fire 800 rounds a minute since 1917. 100 years. And legal. So stop the leftist BS to win your point and look at stats and facts!

Becky Sheets
Becky Sheets

That's stupid, saying it a mental health item, means we need to be more aware of mental problems and get people help before they do bad things, it doesn't mean you do nothing. Criminals and crazy people will get guns whether they are legal or not. Make an honest statement and put some thought into it.

Rick Jones
Rick Jones

Anything written by JAYBOOKMAN should be taken with a grain of socialism.

Wanda Brown Westmoreland
Wanda Brown Westmoreland

I COMPLETELY DISAGREE WITH THIS WRITER!!! YOU THAT WANT GUN CONTROL ALWAYS COME TO THIS ANSWER! THANK GOD THE NEIGHBOR HAD A GUN AND IF ONLY SOMEONE IN THAT CHURCH HAD ONE ! NO GUN CONTROL NO GUN CONTROL !!!!! YOU NEVER WANT CONTROL WHEN THE WEAPON USED IS SOMETHING ELSE THAN A GUN!

Don S. Rowley
Don S. Rowley

The people that were killed in Las Vegas and in Texas - white evangelical voters - are the one who want the current system of lax access to guns kept just the way it is.

Debra Fish
Debra Fish

The party who armed cartels and terrorists (the party of slavery) wants our guns. Ain't happening. Their voters keep attacking us.

Karen George
Karen George

Mental unstable people do not just pick up a gun and decide to shoot people. There are plenty of warning signs that people are reaching their breaking point. Too often they are ignored by those around them. The gunman in Texas was just such a person. I have read that he was dishonorably discharged from the AirForce for mental issues. He should have been forced to seek help. Unortunately President Kennedy signed legaslation that would not allow a person to be put in a mental institution against their will. Maybe we should look into changing these laws. Disarming law abiding citizens is not the answer. Crimina will always find a way to get weapons. Unarmed citizens open the way for them to be victims of criminals and criminal politicians who want to take over under the guise of a new world order. We the People demand our Constitutional rights. e

Tim Chadd Sr.
Tim Chadd Sr.

Law abiding citizens do not need semi-automatic weapons.

Karen George
Karen George

If the criminals can get them and they can, so why not ordinary citizens too? Do you think the UN's so called peace keepers do not have them? The UN has threatened to unleash them on Americans because we want to vet so called refugees and are not buying their climate control rhetoric. We need to be armed.

Michael Stephen Williams
Michael Stephen Williams

Tim Chadd Sr. Yes. We DO. If criminals have them, which they do, then WE should too. Grow a pair, pusscake. Seattle? THAT figures....

Stephen Scruggs
Stephen Scruggs

Thanks to the NRA neighbor who shot this democrat lunatic, or many more innocents would have been slaughtered.

Donna Sherwood
Donna Sherwood

right u are as John Lott said more guns less crime and he can back that premise up

John Dunn
John Dunn

Democrat? Give me a break. There's a reason the highest rates of gun deaths are in the most Republican states. You people in your delusional bubbles are doing a lot of damage to this country.

James Beck
James Beck

Considering the Air Force fell down on the job, this is a combination of a man with a mental health issue and a government agency that was derelict in its duty to report that he was a violent unstable person.

Quintella Benjamin
Quintella Benjamin

He was saying; I'll teach her, he was getting back at her and her family, he was not crazy•they didn't take him seriously.

Trish Gates
Trish Gates

If my daughter's exhusband was texting me and he beat up my daughter and cracked my grandon's head, I would have a TPO and I would have been down at the police station every single day that I got a text. I would have had him arrested. Just saying, many people do not take this seriously. I do.

Carol Sweeney McQuain
Carol Sweeney McQuain

This was 1st wife he beat up and injured grandson! Sure there was more domestic violence with 2nd wife but not heard! I agree threats should have been reported!

Joe B. Lee
Joe B. Lee

STOP MAKING EXCUSES, HYPOCRITES!!! I Guess Slavery was a Mental Defect and ALL the Atrocities throughout History!!!

Christopher Allen Lindsey
Christopher Allen Lindsey

Sick mind, he needs help, the ultimate judge of us all will be taking care of it,God bless those hurt by this, God saw everything, he will be dealt with accordingly.

Benjamin Hanks
Benjamin Hanks

yeah god watched it happen and did nothing..sounds like a great guy

Shaun James
Shaun James

^ This is a perfect example of why religion is dangerous.

Rob Fine
Rob Fine

Benjamin Hanks: Shaun James: Christopher Allen Lindsey: God , gave us the knowledge to do right or wrong and will judge us accordingly. Eternity is just that.

Linda Ray
Linda Ray

If your god was omniscient, he knew it would happen. If your god was omnipotent, he would have stopped it.

David Martin
David Martin

Make up all you want about '' Since it was a white man nothing well happen '' but you see who chased him down and not ONE , white person has tried to make up reasons why this evil person did what he did !

Rob Fine
Rob Fine

That's what we have to know. What set this person off. It wasn't a gun.