Weekly Opinion Editorial
MENTAL ILLNESS IS THE REAL ISSUE!
by Steve Fair
On Sunday morning Devin Patrick Kelley walked into a small church and shot it up, killing 26 and wounding 24 in what is the worst mass shooting in Texas history. Kelley, an Air Force veteran, had been dishonorably discharged after being convicted of domestic abuse. Apparently he was targeting the small church because his ex-wife’s parents worshipped there. They were not at the church, but his ex-grandmother-in-law was one of the victims. The smell of gun powder was still in the air when the gun control debate began. U.S. Senator Chris Murphy, (D-Connecticut) asked his fellow lawmakers, “Can you sleep tonight colleagues, when the price of gun lobby goodwill is this- blood soaked church and school floors, city streets?” Murphy said mass shooting are ‘uniquely and tragically American,’ and Congress must ‘shed its cowardly cover,’and enact gun control. A study conducted by the National Institutes of Health last year found of 171 countries, America had the highest rate of mass shootings.
There is just one problem with Murphy’s argument. In Sunday’s case, a good guy with a gun stopped a bad guy with a gun. Kelley was confronted by Stephen Willeford, a barefoot former National Rifle Association instructor, who shot Kelley twice, forcing him to flee the scene. According to law enforcement, Willeford’s action clearly saved lives. Three observations:
First, according to the FBI, roughly 16,459 murders were committed in the United States during 2016. Of these, about 11,961 or 73% were committed with firearms. At the 2016 homicide rate, roughly one in every 235 Americans will be murdered in the course of their lives. The world is becoming increasingly more dangerous. The second amendment guarantees every American the right to defend themselves.
Second, people who commit these heinous acts don’t obey the law. Those willing to kill innocent bystanders are not above buying a gun in a back alley or building a bomb out of household chemicals and a pressure cooker to kill. There is already a law against murder, but that doesn’t prevent it from happening. More laws are not the answer.
Third, restriction of gun ownership doesn’t work. Chicago has one of the highest crime rates in the U.S., yet guns were outlawed in the city from 1982 to 2010. According to the Chicago Police Department during that period, 59% of all murders committed in Chicago were committed with handguns. Banning handguns didn’t stop killing- it allowed only the criminals to have guns.
So is the answer for every able bodied citizen to strap on a hog leg and draw down on any suspicious looking character? No, but the answer is for law abiding citizens to have the right to own a weapon to defend themselves, their family and their neighbors. The National Institutes of Health study cited by Murphy found the underlying issue behind mass shootings wasn’t gun ownership- it was mental illness and emotional instability. If Murphy and Congress want to work on something constructive, they should be focusing on the mental health crisis in America, not gun ownership.