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And then, this morning, on the way to drop some papers off, I heard the President's response to the shootings that occurred last weekend. And I was, once again, horrified.
The man who spews hate condemned hatred. Which Trump are we supposed to believe?
He once again pointed to mental illness as a factor and this is where I lost my cool. White supremacy is not a mental illness. Hatred is not a mental illness and, although the President lumped them together as the impetus behind the pulling of a trigger, mental illness and hatred do not, as a rule, go hand in hand.
The fact is that most people who struggle with mental health issues are not dangerous. People who are depressed or anxious do not, as a rule, go out and buy handguns, let alone assault rifles, and shoot at innocent people in shopping centers and night clubs. And to use the death of innocent people as a means to increase the stigma that those who struggle with mental health issues already bear is irresponsible and shameful.
I'm baffled by the fact that we still question a need for sensible gun laws in this country -- the only first world country that regularly has mass shootings plastered across the front pages of its newspapers. Let me explain what I mean by sensible gun laws. I don't want to see legislation that takes away rifles from hunters, vintage guns from collectors or even handguns from responsible citizens who can prove that they fit that category. I do not, however, see a need for any private citizen to have an assault rifle. I recognize that a bipartisan gun law will have loopholes that allow some people who should not have guns to continue to buy and own them, and that loopholes are potentially necessary for continued freedom when it comes to owning and bearing firearms. I would, however, much prefer loopholes to the gaping chasm that is our country's approach to the purchase and possession of guns.
If you're still reading this, thank you, and I hope you will allow me one closing thought. Most people who struggle with mental health issues lead quiet, nonviolent lives. Many gun owners, similarly, present no danger to anyone. To suggest that responsible, bipartisan gun legislation should disrupt the lives of either of these groups is to miss the point. So, what is the point?
It's time for the Senate to vote. There's a bill before you. Vote on it. Pass it and move forward to put teeth into the law that results. Or, don't pass it, but then go back to the table. And don't leave the table until a gun law that upholds the rights of gun owners, the rights of those with mental health issues and the rights of private citizens results.
For more information on mental health issues, visit one of these sites.
I am emailing this blog post to my senators.
Please reach out to yours.