According to a CNN report this week, a DeKalb County, Georgia man slips into a school with an “AK-47 type weapon” ready for a shootout with police, prepared to take his own life. This story is sickingly too familiar to me as my son’s final minutes on earth played out in a similar fashion. The man was a convicted felon with a violent past and according to the report a history of mental illness. According to the report, the man took the assault rifle from the house of an acquaintance.
The news shows story after story of individuals going to schools and other public buildings with guns intending to harm others or themselves. As the story unfolds, we see similar patterns, mentally ill or disturbed individuals intending to end their suffering or take vengeance on real or perceived threats.
Fortunately, for everyone concerned in DeKalb County, a school employee talked the man into surrendering by telling him she loved him, revealing some of her own personal stories, and offering to surrender with him so the police would not shoot. Thank God, all are safe! This includes the mentally unstable individual with the gun. His mother did not have to bury a child this week. If the scenario had turned for the worse with a loss of life, the rhetoric in the news and social media would include an insane discussion of the need for arming school officials with more guns.
The rhetoric is so passionate from gun owners and organizations that stir the gun owners into a frenzy that many people are afraid to speak for any type of gun control. Any discussion of holding those accountable who give children, teens, felons, or unstable individuals access to guns is met with loud and fierce opposition, personal attacks, and fear-mongering. One argument is the government or they (whoever they are) will take our weapons and constitutional right to bear arms away. Gun advocates have become bullies loudly screaming for more and more arms to deter violence rather than sensible gun ownership and safety.
How many more stories like the ones in DeKalb County, Aurora, Chicago, Columbine, or Jonesboro, Arkansas do we have to hear until we change the conversation? We need serious reform to provide easy medical access to the mentally ill and a reform of our behavior for gun access. We need to make it terribly uncomfortable and socially unacceptable for those who carelessly or negligently give access to guns for children and mentally unstable adults. Let’s ensure law enforcement officials enforce the gun access laws that are already on the books. Let’s push public prosecutors and judges to punish irresponsible gun owners to the full extent of the law.
Imagine the power the powerless, disenfranchised, and depressed feel when they hold an automatic weapon in their hands. How must they feel when they see the terror in others eyes as they aim the weapon? It is completely unacceptable to mix mental illness and access to guns for any reason at any time.
For those of you afraid of gun control rights people labeling you as a gun control advocate, think about this. If you don’t believe anyone has the right to have any type of firearm, you believe in gun control. Shouldn’t all of us advocate gun control?