First, I do not have much of a view on guns. I’ve shot them before but they are not something I have any real emotional attachment to. Basically, I can leave them. Gun laws have little impact on those that want a gun, especially if they plan to use it in a crime. Oregon has some pretty restrictive gun laws, to my understanding and which may be wrong, so stronger gun laws will do little to curb gun crime.
Second, mental illness is rarely the cause of violence towards others. As someone who has mental health issues, violence is something that just doesn’t exist as option for me except towards myself (suicide is a form of violence). (No, I am not suicidal but suicide is violence because it takes a life and hurts others.) Nearly all mental illnesses do not involve or express violence as a symptom. If there is violence, that violence is self inflicted on the one suffering the mental illness, not on others. Self harm is still rare though. Mentally ill individuals are the least violent people and inflict the smallest amount of violence which is usually directed at themselves and almost never at others.
The thing is guns and mental illness are not the issues. What we want is the ability to read minds and predict the future. But instead of placing violence in a larger context we focus on symptoms instead of the underlying disease. We have a society that does not respect people or value people for being people. We like bogeymen to focus our blame on instead of taking responsibility.
The shooter in yesterday’s tragedy here in Oregon had obtained his guns legally. Gun laws would not have changed his ability to gain those weapons or his desire to use them. Gun laws only work for honest, law abiding people. Criminals do not care about laws let alone about obeying them. So greater gun laws will not work to affect those that use guns to commit crimes.
Even though the shooter appeared to be odd, he most likely did not have a mental illness. This means, and nobody likes to consider, is that the shooter chose of his own free will and with a sane mind to actively shoot and kill people. The vast majority of those that commit mass murders are in full possession of their faculties, that is, they are quite sane. They plan to kill people and then carry out that plan.
We don’t like that because it means anybody could choose to commit evil. We want mental illness to be the explanation because we cannot and will not conceive that a sane person would choose to hurt, to kill someone just because they want to. We want mental illness to be the underlying cause of “evil” because we don’t want to acknowledge that selfish individuality and sex as the highest purpose in life have been and are complete failures. We don’t want to have to take responsibility for our failure to care for and respect others.
Our American society has become a utilitarian pagan society that places value only on promiscuous sex at all costs and where people are only valued on what economic, monetary, and sexual services they can provide. Personhood is no longer an intrinsic right but a rare privilege accorded to those that lie to the people of their allegedly superior status and worth. (Just look at the homosexual “rights” movement.)
We have become a society that does not value life at all. We have turned it into a tool to be used and discarded at will with no respect to the person being discarded.
Abortion, birth control, euthanasia, assisted suicide, divorce, glamorization of violence, the elevation of the individual above all else, sex as the highest achievement, individual rights that infringe and violate others, distrust, hate, poverty, severe economic inequality that grows worse everyday, control of resources by the powerful and wealthy few, everyone is a stranger. These are the issues.
We are a society that lives in fear of each other and hates those that do not conform to rigid and arbitrary rules defined by a selfish, sin worshipping society. Be an individual but don’t be an individual. Love is only a feeling not an act of will that desires the best for the other person. Pleasure and sex are more important than serving others in humility.
Our self centered society glorifies violence, money, success, sex, and fame as the determining factors of who is and is not a person and therefore, a person who had value and worthy. These exterior elements do not demonstrate success but rather failure.
A person is a person because they have inherent dignity and worth because they are made in the image and likeness of God. Secular society cannot abide this truth and so denigrates it and then pushes its own lies about success and looks as being “better” and more “noble”. Secular society pushes God out because God loves everyone equally and unconditionally while society likes on a very conditional basis. God has also said that we are more than just parts and individuals, that we are a community that loves and represents God’s love in action. And that love is binding and truly freeing at the same time.
But society says that freedom is oppressive and so sells license instead. A license that hurts and abuses and diminishes the inherent dignity of the person. Freedom is doing what you ought. License is doing what you want and expecting no consequences for your actions.
So the shooter chose license and violence yesterday. Freedom would have meant not shooting or killing anyone. It would also have meant that if he did have mental health issues he would have gotten help. But mostly it would have meant that guns and mental illness would not be the bogeymen thar society and politicians want them to be instead of taking responsibility for their actions and decisions that led to this heinous tragedy. And we would rather shoot a bogeyman than acknowledge the actual truth: a man chose to go to a community college, fire multiple weapons, and kill 9 people, many because of their religion all because this man made a sane choice to kill people.
We don’t like the truth because it hurts. But that truth, once acknowledged and accepted, will do more to stop these kinds of tragedies from occurring than gun laws and mental health services will.