By Jim Wallace
This opinion piece is in response to an editorial piece published on June 17, 2021, in the Charlestown Patriot-Bridge.
I find it more than ironic that an anti-civil rights editorial full of misinformation and flat-out bigotry appears in a newspaper with the word “Patriot” in its title. Perhaps even more so because that day’s paper presented a front-page story on the celebration of Bunker Hill Day.
Other than the disparaging remarks about gun owners and the organizations they support is the complete lack of general gun knowledge. People often rant about the AR-15 like it is some modern superweapon that recently came into existence. In fact, if the rifle was a car, it would be an antique. The AR-15 has been in civilian hands for more than sixty years! It is not a military weapon, as some claim. I am not aware of any standing army in the world that has ever utilized it.
Since the late 1950’s when the gun came on the civilian market, it has hardly changed at all. The action is the same, the magazines are the same, so what HAS changed. Not the gun.
Ever since Columbine, and especially since Newtown, it should have been obvious to anyone who paid attention that the core issue we are dealing with related to mass murder is untreated, and often undiagnosed, severe mental health issues. To argue about what type of tool an attacker uses to kill is simply a smokescreen from dealing with the true problem.
Purely because of politics, self-anointed “political leaders” have continually tried to convince the general public that the “thing” is to blame. As if a certain type of tool is done away with that suddenly mass murder and suicide will miraculously cease. Just as a cold hard reminder, the Oklahoma bombing resulted in 759 injured, 168 of those perished, and not a single gun was used.
An incredibly sad example of intentional misdirection was the fairly recent passing of the “Red Flag Law”. This ill-conceived law was sold as dealing with people who have been thought to be suicidal or the next potential mass killer. The night the House of Representatives debated the bill was exposed for what it really was.
At the outset of the debate, the House leadership announced that all mental health amendments would not be considered for the bill. They clearly stated on the floor that it was a gun licensing bill, not a mental health bill. Seriously, an effort to supposedly stop deranged killers and suicide is not a mental health bill? That debate represents the high-water mark of intentional misdirection in the Commonwealth.
The other willfully cruel and dangerous piece of the law is its negligence in providing any assistance to the aggrieved. According to the celebrated law, once the court has identified an individual as a potential threat to the public and/or themselves, the court revokes the individual’s second amendment civil rights and sends them home. Again, seriously, we think we have identified the next mass murder or suicide victim and the answer is to send them home with no assistance, no help, no guidance or follow up. That is plainly intentional blindness and ignorance of the underlying problem.
If we are to solve these problems, we must address the most important issue and that is the human element. Name-calling, bigotry, and ignorance of the true causes of mass murder and suicide will only further divide us.
Jim Wallace is a member of Gun Owners Action League (GOAL).