Primary Arms

We Must Police Ourselves...

Take the suppressor off your mouth and put it on your gun. Mental health issues in our community are too important to stay silent on...

The Facebook Killer, domestic disputes, and thousands of suicides per year. Unfortunately, every day, someone who is mentally disturbed in our country uses a firearm for nefarious purposes…

And unfortunately, it always leads to the same armchair battle. A friend of mine put it thusly in a humorous bent.

If only that old man waiting for his bus had a concealed firearm this would have never happened. Or, or… if the batshit insane guy who executed him in the street DIDN’T, this would have never happened.

On both sides, the pro-2A side, and the gun-confiscation side, the tendency is to focus on the tool and not the situation as a whole.

Mentally disturbed people don’t exist in a vacuum

Whether it’s the Facebook killer, a domestic abuser, or someone with other psychological issues, those people don’t exist in a vacuum. The FB Killer (sidebar: I’m not using his name since I don’t want to contribute to his infamy…) didn’t lead an exemplary life, and then one fine day just decide to livestream a murder on Facebook. He wasn’t mowing the lawn, sipping on lemonade at 2 PM, and at 2:05, decided to pick up his GLOCK and go kill someone. No. He had a litany of noticeable mental issues prior, and no one intervened. Most suicide cases follow a similar pattern. People act different, and then one day they are gone from our lives.

Everything but the person is blamed

In the aftermath, there’s always a plethora of armchair-quarterbacking going on. Heavy metal music, video games, comic books, pornography, and yes, the gun, or by proxy the NRA, gets blamed. No one thinks to blame the person who actually committed the act. Sure, there’s triggers such as life stresses, neurological abnormalities, and so forth, but the ultimate blame for the act is on the person. But, for various reasons, including an agenda or political correctness, this is almost never bought up. The “agenda” is usually on the part of an anti-gun organization, where they use the incident to leverage raw emotions to further their cause of confiscation. And yes, I’ll tactfully admit that sometimes there’s some less-than-scrupulous individuals within the firearms community who use an incident to leverage their agenda. Regardless, the agendas miss the mark.

If the aggressor didn’t have a gun, he would have most likely used another tool. One only need look to France and Sweden to see examples of senseless killings done without a firearm. A suicidal person would find another way as well. By any metric, our country is heavily armed. However, our rate of suicide is the 48th highestin the world. Japan, which due to it’s isolation and centuries of restrictions on firearms ownership (they basically outlawed most civilian guns in the 1700s, when few existed inside the country…), has a suicide rate higher than ours. Japan’s cultural attitude towards suicide (it’s considered ‘OK’ for certain situations…) and thus a tradition of it, make it easier. South Korea, where civilian ownership of guns is also very rare, has a suicide rate roughly double ours. And the South Korean media doesn’t blame the aspirin, the skyscraper, the carbon monoxide, and so on.

It’s up to us.

I could armchair-quarterback the causes of these problems until the proverbial cows come home. However, that only solves part of it. We’ve identified the issue (the person), and obviously things need to be done to prevent a real tragedy from happening. My ideas require a bit of intestinal fortitude on the part of the concerned parties, so bear with me.

If someone with mental issues has ready access to firearms or any other potentially-lethal implement, an intervention of sorts should be staged where family and friends confront the person about their issues, and disarm them if needed. I know in some jurisdictions this would be an illegal “transfer” but in my mind this issue supersedes any law. The biggest part is taking that first step. Nip it in the bud, as it were. Often, just the thought that someone cares enough to be concerned is sufficient motivation to talk the affected person out of the tree. And, if it’s a false alarm, better that than something truly bad happening.

I’m a firm believer that 90 percent of the mental issues out there can be dealt with by friends, family, and private resources. Contact the authorities as a last resort. The reason I mention that is because, sadly, when the government gets involved, it tends to take a heavy-handed approach to mental health issues. Even mild issues can trigger involuntary commitments and detainments. And, when the State is involved, those incidents are noted and recorded, and can have future negative impacts on the person. I’m not just referring to being flagged in NICS, either. Being adjudicated as mentally incompetent can be follow you for the rest of your life. A “bad week” or an out-of-control baby-momma who calls the cops can have serious repercussions.

And, if there’s an incident where a mentally disturbed person obtains a firearm and commits a crime, it reflects badly on us. To the unschooled observer, and to those who wish to deprive us of our natural right to keep and bear arms, every incident is more ammunition for them to enact onerous restrictions and violations of our rights. It’s part of the agenda.

Mental health is a prickly subject. One man’s crazy may be another man’s brilliance. Yesterday’s “fidgety” is today’s ADHD. However, when our rights are at stake, it’s well worth a million false alarms - “if you see something, say something” - get involved. Be concerned. Your shooting buddy looks a little down? Get him out of the house and go for a golf outing or to your favorite watering hole. Find out how things are. Figure out the situation - get friends and family involved. Get help from private organizations such as the Suicide Hotline. For other issues, Mental Health America has a plethora of resources. Veterans, new organizations like Mission 22 are a huge help with the issues unique to yourselves. Modern advances in technology have also enabled highly-qualified therapists to conduct remote sessions. Google is your friend in this regard, but often just having that qualified voice on the other end of the screen is all it takes.

Don’t discount traditional resources either. For generations, the churches and other faith-based organizations have helped millions of people through tough times, often at no cost to the recipient. I’m not of a specific faith, but I’ve seen many people helped by a religious group’s sense of community and belonging. Also, the support of a family member can often be the linchpin to a successful recovery from an issue. Don’t hesitate to reach out to a potentially-disturbed relative, or reach out to a relative if you feel you are having issues. It might be embarrassing at first, but “blood is thicker than water”, if you think about it.

The key is to do something. Lives, and our rights, are at stake. If we take care of our own, others will have less reason to do so.