Any normal human being would react to the recent school shooting in Parkland with empathy, sadness, and disgust. However, it seems most of our elected representatives are not "normal" human beings. What makes them not "normal" is not a lack of empathy or reason (at least for the most part). What makes them not "normal" are dollar bills. Tons of dollar bills in the form of donations from the NRA and gun lobby. A whopping $30 million for Trump and a meager $3 million for Marco Rubio for example. The quid pro quo is their readiness to read from the script whenever a tragedy occurs. That being to send thoughts and prayers in one breath while in the other breath saying this is not the time to talk about gun laws. That's it, that is what millions of dollars purchase from these politicians, plus the additional guarantee they will never vote for any gun laws and fight to roll back any existing ones whenever possible.
So money in politics is the reason we have no reasonable gun laws in the books, even when over 90% of Americans are in favor of the blandest of actions Congress could take, which includes marginally invigorating background checks for purchasing guns. Instead, they actually take steps backward by rolling back an Obama era provision that would keep guns out of the hands of mentally ill people that have been deemed for example to be unable to handle their own finances. But for some reason, Republicans think they can and should be able to handle a gun. And don't forget the typical one week dog and pony shows, the latest of which was about banning bump stocks, a piece of equipment that can be added to semi-automatic guns to make them fully automatic, after they were used in the Las Vegas shooting. They play it up for a week or two waiting out the public's attention span and then drop the act as soon as politically feasible.
Even though I am in favor of reasonable gun law to curtail the epidemic of gun violence in this country, I don't believe in taking away American's right to own a gun. Having said that, there are guns and then there are guns. There is no sensible rationale for allowing the public to own a military grade weapon such as an AR-15 in a mainstream level of thinking. However, there is a fringe level of thinking from mostly right-wing groups that believe the reason they have to fight the government from taking away their right to own weapons of war is that they believe they are or may be at war at any moment. A war against who you may ask. And the answer is a war against the government itself. So they interpret the second amendment literally, as in they have the right to weapons of war and organized militias so they can fight the government if they ever deem necessary. And for that they need military-grade weapons otherwise how are they to fight the police and military when they come for them in whatever dystopian vision of the future they hold. That is not a totally irrational and absurd thought as a thought experiments go, however we are deep in the territory of irrationality and absurdity if that is the unspoken rationale of a vocal minority of the public in some parts of the country that seeks to get in the way of sensible gun laws to curtail the dystopian present we already have now where a kid can legally buy a semi-automatic gun and mow down a school. And a mentally ill kid under the influence of psychotropic drugs at that.
Because of those last two facts, Republicans in Congress try to get away with blaming mental illness exclusively and some in the alt-right resign themselves to blame pharmaceuticals in order to veer completely away from placing an iota of blame on the unfettered access the public has to guns. And it is interesting to see both camps playing these separate blame games. Obviously, Republicans must blame mental illness exclusively so as not to run the risk of crossing the pharma lobby. And some alt-right outlets mostly blame pharmaceuticals since mental illness is more of an abstract concept they have no understanding of nor ability to write about, while pills are something that they can point to and people can see, touch and wrap their minds around. I also believe that some in the alt-right may carry the stigma of having been called mentally ill in the past themselves and rather veer away from that debate. And that's fine for both camps as long as the guns are not to blame. They get away with this because mental illness and pharmaceuticals are true major factors in this debate, however, the fallacy that the gun is never to blame falls under the category of absurd cynicism at best and malicious deception at worst. An additional observation in this area is the fact that the mainstream news will never mention pharmaceuticals in any of their coverage, since as we are all painfully aware of, they barrage us with non-stop pharma ads of sunny skies, happy families and onerous lists of side-effects that dominate their ad revenue budgets. And they can't afford to piss off sugar daddy big pharma; alongside daddy big oil, daddy big banks and daddy war machine.
Indeed most if not all cases of mass shooting involve psychotropic drugs such as SSRI antidepressants. These drugs chemically inhibit parts of the brain so as to numb them. A brain that is predisposed to violence is a lot more likely to act on that violence when parts of their brain that provide them certain mental faculties and emotional responses are "turned off". So a brain in a natural state would chemically give someone a strong emotional rejection to the thought of killing kids in a school may no longer do so. Which means that the thoughts occur without the appropriate emotional response that would include shame, disgust or remorse for example. It, therefore, has an effect akin to transforming the real world into a virtual world where their thoughts and actions no longer feel real. So we have a kid with a not fully developed pre-frontal cortex where judgment and decision making take place, being chemically impaired by mind and mood altering drugs on top of coping with mental illness and psychological disorders, all affecting his perception and experience of reality. Yet Republicans still choose to fight for this kid's ability to own an AR-15 to the detriment of the safety of all other kids. This is not a kid who needed a gun, this is a kid that needed help. Help that is not readily available to him because of our broken health and mental care system. But that is a discussion for another article.
The fact is that most people agree on at least a few reasonable gun control laws that to any sensible human that is not under the influence of drugs, pills or dollar bills should be able to agree on. A more robust background check system that also addresses the gun show loophole, banning of high capacity magazines and bump stocks, as well as the ban of military-grade weapons that we used to have to begin with. These are literally the minimally humane and minimally sensible steps that can be taken to address this issue, at a minimum. But unfortunately, the minimum is too much for Republicans who fear the NRA's fury more than they fear the public's fury. Maybe we can change their minds in the upcoming mid-term elections.
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