Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Huckabee says we need more guns in church? Not so fast.

In a story that seems to have received little attention, presidential candidate Mike Huckabee has offered a solution to prevent more shootings in church: more guns. He offers the following insights:
“All the proposals this president and others have put forward on gun control would not have stopped this shooting anymore than it would have stopped Sandy Hook,” Huckabee said. “The one thing that would have at least ameliorated the horrible situation in Charleston would have been that if somebody in that prayer meeting had a conceal carry or there had been either an off duty policeman or an on duty policemen, somebody with the legal authority to carry a firearm and could have stopped the shooter.”
So if churchgoers pack more heat, they just might be able to stop a shooter in his tracks, right? I'm pretty sure that his observation applies to all mass shootings. If only there had been a good guy with a gun, the people would have been safe, according to Mike Huckabee.

America has more guns per citizen than just about any other nation in the world. We have higher homicide and murder rates to go along with that. A recent study by the Violence Policy Center shows that guns are rarely used in self-defense:
"In 2012, across the nation there were only 259 justifiable homicides involving a private citizen using a firearm reported to the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Program as detailed in its Supplementary Homicide Report (SHR). That same year, there were 8,342 criminal gun homicides tallied in the SHR. In 2012, for every justifiable homicide in the United States involving a gun, guns were used in 32 criminal homicides. And this ratio, of course, does not take into account the tens of thousands of lives ended in gun suicides or unintentional shootings that year."
32 to 1 against self defense? Those are not very good odds, even for the honest, law abiding gun owner. There is lot going on when someone buys a gun and considers how it should be used. The claim of self defense would hold water if the stats were there, but they simply aren't there. Most people who buy guns rarely use them, and fewer still have regular training on how to use them properly. Like anything we buy, we must study it, train to use it and be prepared to use it when the time comes.

The elephant in the room that no one wants to talk about? Mental health. I think we can all agree that every mass shooter, from Columbine to Sandy Hook to Charleston had or has mental problems. The National Alliance for Mental Illness has released a report showing that funding for mental health treatment has been trending down again, and it's still down from pre-recession levels:
"In 2014 momentum in the states to improve funding and quality of services for people living with mental illness slowed. While 29 states and the District of Columbia increased funding for mental health services, this was down from 36 states and DC in 2013. Moreover, when current state funding for mental health services is compared with state funding prior to the beginning of the recession in 2009, funding in many states is still down. Between 2009 and 2012, states cut $4.35 billion from their mental health budgets, literally decimating access to services for many people living with mental illness. This damage is a long way from being repaired."
It should also be worth noting that Republicans have enjoyed majority status in a majority of states since the last census in 2010. It would seem that conservatives are cutting funding to mental health while at the same time, passing permissive legislation on gun controls. Doesn't that just seem like the perfect storm?

Albert Einstein once said, "We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them." This is true for anyone, including gun owners who make the decision to take the life of another. Worse, a gun owner cannot solve a problem while loaded with adrenaline, anger and possibly, legal medication like anti-depressants, with a gun in hand. Therefore, we cannot expect people who have problems to solve them on their own. Everyone needs help sometimes.

If guns could save lives everyone would have one. I'd rather have friends and family than a gun.
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