McIntyre Column: A Prescription for a Society Sick of Gun Violence

By McIntyre, Doug | Daily News (Los Angeles, CA), February 17, 2018 | Go to article overview

McIntyre Column: A Prescription for a Society Sick of Gun Violence


McIntyre, Doug, Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)


Our society is sick. Here are the symptoms:

We are producing way too many mass-murderers. Often, these killers are teenagers who have in their brief lives metastasized into ticking time bombs of hatred and darkness incomprehensible to the rest of us.

We are experiencing an epidemic of teen suicides, lost souls who feel their lives are so hopeless death is preferable to life. Last November, Ashwanty Davis of Aurora, Colorado died by her own hand. She was 10 years old.

And for the second year in a row life expectancy in America went down. The Centers for Disease Control pins it on our insatiable appetite for opioids.

Last week, yet another damaged child showed up at a school with a gun and murdered 17 people. The predictable post-atrocity debates ensued: the ban-guns people slugged it out with the arm-everybody crowd while the prayer-in-school folks pointed the finger at video games and Hollywood, with Scientologists and others indicting psychiatric pharmacology.

These single-issue debates have gotten us nowhere and distract from a painful truth — it’s all-of-the-above. All-of-the-above doesn’t make anyone happy. All-of-the-above is overwhelming. What is a nation to do?

Australia effectively banned semi-automatic guns in 1996 and has seen a dramatic drop in gun homicides. Of course, Australia doesn’t have a Second Amendment or Texas or Oklahoma, so that’s not likely to happen here. Maybe the only way we’ll ever find a solution to mass killings is to identify what we know doesn’t work.

Like doing nothing. We’ve given that more than a fair chance.

“Thoughts and prayers” ain’t getting it done either. “Thoughts and Prayers” might be a lovely expression of sympathy but hasn’t saved a single child caught in the field of fire from a maniac with an AR-15.

You know what else doesn’t work? “This is a Gun Free Zone” signs. While armed guards on school campuses won’t stop every nut with a gun it’s a hell of a better deterrent than a sign. “Gun Free Zone” signs are the secular equivalent of “thoughts and prayers.”

The 20,000-plus gun laws already on the books have, undoubtedly, prevented many more shootings. However, until we have uniform laws among all 50 states, it won’t make much difference what laws Los Angeles, Chicago or New York passes. We are a mobile society and guns travel freely from state to state.

HIPPA laws have to change. A patient’s right to privacy is important but it doesn’t trump society’s right to protect itself against a lunatic with a gun. The Baker Act (ironically, a Florida Law passed in 1971) allows authorities to put someone on a 72-hour psych hold involuntarily. Only a third of the states, including California, employ this important legal tool. …

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