With A Gun

Lots of good stuff in this article.

Before the initial shock wore off in the aftermath of yet another horrific American mass shooting—before we knew about the extent of the injury and death, or the events that transpired or the biography and motives of yet another angry white male armed with a semi-automatic rifle and a grudge—before we really knew anything, President Donald Trump jumped into the fray with a diagnosis. “Mental health is your problem here,” Trump opined from Tokyo in his first comments after 26 people died when a gunman opened fire on a church service in Sutherland Springs, Texas. “This isn’t a guns situation,” he said. “This is a mental health problem at the highest level.”

Respectfully, Mr. President: It’s not that easy.

If there were a Propensity to Mass Violence disease, perhaps it would make a little more sense to involve psychiatrists in identifying potential mass murderers. But absent a formal means of assessing predictive violence, such as a diagnosis, mental health practitioners are often left to trust the power of their observations when asked to gauge which one of the thousands of patients they see might go on to commit a violent act such as a mass shooting. And, unfortunately, we’re not that great at it. As gun expert Jeffrey Swanson succinctly puts it when summarizing a great deal of research, “psychiatrists using clinical judgment are not much better than chance at predicting which individual patients will do something violent and which will not.”

And this stood out:

As such, I believe there are more meaningful ways for psychiatrists to help in the effort against gun violence and mass shootings: by also addressing shifting American beliefs and attitudes around guns, and about our increasingly polarized reactions to mass shootings. As but one example, in 1999, far more gun owners cited hunting, rather than self-protection, as the main reason they owned guns. By 2013, those attitudes had shifted: 48 percent said protection was the main reason to own a gun, while 32 percent pointed to hunting. The question of why Americans feel so unsafe around, and mistrustful of each other seems like a pressing one for mental health experts.

The saying goes, “The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun“.

And, ‘good guy with a gun’ was present at the TX church shooting. He didn’t stop what happened, but he was there, and he’s received a lot of accolades for at least slowing down the shooter. And if he saved lives, that’s good.

But here’s the thing: if you’re carrying a gun in defense, or for ‘protection’, or you’re carrying a gun thinking you might need to be that ‘good guy with a gun’, your actions are a consequence of the fear that the 2nd Amendment requires. So, not only does this fear require non-gun owners to live in fear of being shot, it requires that gun owners also experience that fear. Which is great for gun makers but terrible for everyone else. More guns around, more wanna-be vigilantes, more guns ready to be used whenever the owner has a bad day.

“The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun“.

See the problem?

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