Guns in the Hands of Children and the Mentally Ill–A Recipe for Violence

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A recent string of violent incidents has forced the nation to again question the roots of violence.

• In Slaughter, Louisiana, an 8-year-old boy played the violent video game Grand Theft Auto, then shot his 90-year-old grandmother in the back of the head, killing her.

• In the Washington, D.C., area a former Navy reservist, who was known to play violent video games for hours, and had displayed signs of mental instability, walked into a navy yard and shot and killed 12 people. The New York Times reported that Aaron Alexis was armed with an AR-15 assault rifle, a shotgun and a semiautomatic pistol.

• In Chicago, four young men were charged in the shooting of 13 people who had gathered to watch a basketball game. The injured included a three-year-old.

Last week on its first day of release, Grand Theft Auto V, generated a whopping $800 million in retail sales worldwide. The success of the GTA franchise is unparalleled—and its makers are unfazed by the critics who see a link between violent video games and gun violence. Millions of people have played some version of Grand Theft Auto and have not committed homicide.

Yet, the killings continue. The link between video games and violence may be debatable, but in my mind one point is painfully clear: children and crazy people should not have access to guns.

This is a simple concept that many people can agree on and accept. But when it comes to enacting the laws and policies that would transform that concept into reality, the gun lobby pulls out…the big guns. Any attempt to modify gun laws meets with derision, scare tactics, a campaign to paint gun control as an attack on the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, the American way, and your personal safety.

And the killings continue.

The idea that more guns in America equals a safer America simply does not wash. One horrific event after another proves that more guns have resulted in more accessibility. When even eight-year-olds and the mentally ill can access guns something is terribly wrong.

This may come as a surprise to some of my brothers of the badge, but I believe it’s time to have serious discussions about responsible gun ownership and about limiting access. It’s time to talk without the rabid rhetoric and scare tactics. As a nation we are innovative enough and brave enough to create a way to keep guns away from those who should not have them, while maintaining access for others. After all, working together to resolve our problems is really the American way.

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