Last week two local columnists in two local newspapers, the Finger Lakes Times and the Dundee Observer, discussed our “Gun Control” problem. They both pointed to Mental Health reform as a remedy to our county’s gun violence.
The Finger Lakes Times “In Focus” column, by Josh Durso from Seneca Falls, was titled “The need to be engaged” and offers sound reasons to not only vote, but to expand your influence by attending public meetings (including Town Hall Meetings), write to newspapers and representatives, seek out solutions, and “most-definitely go beyond simply complaining.” Durso, then went on to suggest that “we should spend money on making (mentally ill) people better, instead of enabling bad habits.”
The Dundee Observer’s column, “Rural Living” column, by Schuyler County’s Larry Wilson, was titled, “The mentally ill should be denied access to firearms.” He suggests tough laws that keep guns out of the hands of the mentally ill. His suggestions includes “scrutinizing children for potential mental illness” and that “judges must look at applications more closely and reject those that raise any questions of mental instability.”
Wilson ends his column with:
I thoroughly support everyone’s right to hunt and to carry a handgun for self defense. I do not support the right of mentally ill people to wander through our communities carrying guns.
The big question is how do we define “Mentally Ill People”?
We already have a federal law that prohibits people from purchasing or possessing firearms if they have been “committed to a mental institution”, or, “adjudicated as a mental defective” (which means they 1) are a danger to themselves or others, or, 2) lack the mental capacity to manage his own affairs, or 3) are found insane by a court in a criminal case, incompetent to stand trial, or not guilty by a reason of insanity). For more information about the background check process and links to more details about the 1968 law mention above follow this link.
,A large majority of people with mental disorders will never engage in violence against.
Mr. Durso’s and Mr. Wilson’s articles do not offer any suggestions to curb the gun violence that occurs daily in many American cities. Close to home examples includes on October 6 Rochester had three people shot in three different shootings in a 12 hour period. One was a 13 year-old girl. In August three young men were killed in a drive-by shooting outside of the Rochester’s Buys and Girls Club after a dance. Those events affected the families, neighborhoods and the city.
In 2014 32,383 people were killed by guns in our country, another 33,636 were injured. We need to focus on more than the mentally ill; we need to include poverty, drugs/alcohol abuse, domestic violence, gangs, robberies, and racism (are there more?) as contributors to the gun violence in our society and act accordingly.
We will never completely end gun violence, but we can find ways to reduce it.