As I begin this column, our country is reeling from two more mass shootings. Concurrently, the 2020 Presidential election is in full swing. The spewing of vitriol over both events is escalating at a frightening pace with over a year to go until we vote. This tension is going to make it a dangerous time for our country; there are just too many nuts out there.

And the nuts ARE the problem. A gun is like a chainsaw, if you leave it on the shelf or use it responsibly, it’s just another tool. But if some lunatic picks it up, nothing good is going to happen.

There was a time when we could lock up madmen for longer than 72 hours. When schools, neighbors and families could alert authorities that someone had gone off the rails without, themselves, being labeled as insensitive knuckle draggers. Now, the crazier someone is, the more rights they have, leaving the rest of us with few defenses against them. They can’t be locked up until AFTER they’ve killed a bunch of innocents.

Speaking of knuckle draggers…I was recently attacked as a hater of blacks and lesbians by an anonymous online troll with suspiciously scraped hands. Barkin’ up the wrong tree to try to paint me as a white nationalist, homophobic, misogynist. Most obviously, I’m married to a first-generation American-Mexican. Also, I grew up in a town where, if you weren’t happy to have Blacks, Indians and other non-whites as friends, you weren’t going to have many. About the only group I hate are haters.

Nobody writes an opinion column for long if they have thin skin and I’m a tough old broad. I relish a thoughtful discussion, online or in person, with someone of differing opinions and certainly don’t intend to make a habit of defending myself against ignorant attacks, but this one was over the line.

Now, back to nuts with guns as well as keyboards. The idea of ‘mainstreaming’ was an idea from the ‘70s and ‘80s which turned even the most pathetically unbalanced people onto the streets from mental institutions where they’d been (mostly) cared for and safe. The slogan was that they’d be able, on their own, to ‘fulfill their potential.’ Today, this segment of society lives on the streets and under bridges. The younger ones, the ones who have been raised on hideously violent loner games and wacko chatrooms, with little discipline from or interaction with caring adults, are dumped on the schools to manage until they take to the streets.

The crazies have proven that they’re happy to race a car down a crowded sidewalk, build a bomb in the garage or swing a machete. And the rest of us have to give up our guns?

Until we actually face the mental-health monster in this country and quit blaming inanimate objects for mayhem, we are all in danger.

Leslie Baker is a native Arizonian who retired from the construction and real estate industries. She volunteered for over 20 years with various Hospice organizations. She and her husband, Phillip Mojica, live in Linden.

(13) comments

ronzim

O.K. Leslie, I promise not to call you any names because I don't do that. Sooooo, let us have that reasoned conversation. There is certainly no argument against your proper identification of mass shooters as mentally ill. You are also correct that beginning in 1980 the Reagan administration slashed funding for mental health care with the inevitable result that much of that care migrated to law enforcement and jailers who are not qualified to provide sustained mental health care to anyone. The restoration of that funding as a mandatory item would be of great help.







We need to be careful in using pejorative labels such as "nuts" in reference to mentally ill people. In fact, mental health problems are actually very common. In 2014, about one in five American adults experienced a mental health issue; one in 10 young people experienced a period of major depression; one in 25 Americans lived with a serious mental illness, such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, or major depression. The vast majority of people with mental health problems are no more likely to be violent than anyone else. Most people with mental illness are not violent and only 3%–5% of violent acts can be attributed to individuals living with a serious mental illness.







In fact, people with severe mental illnesses are over 10 times more likely to be victims of violent crime than the general population, rather than perpetrators. With over 65 million persons afflicted by mental illness, and often behaving strangely, it is a major challenge to determine just who should be reported to authorities by physicians, let alone family and friends. Even if they all were, there are nearly no resources with which to track and investigate those persons. The Trump administration has literally eviscerated the resources of the Homeland Security department's section devoted to fighting domestic terrorism. There is also the matter of focus.







In 2018, 373 people were killed in mass shootings which comprised a scant 0.0093 of the 40,000 gun deaths that year. Take out the suicides and that 373 is still only 0.025 of homicides. Mass shootings are sensational and arouse great passion but they are tiny compared to the overall homicide rate, which is where our focus needs to be. Your solution is guns with which to protect ourselves; however, in this matter heavily armed and highly trained officers were at the scene and neutralized the shooter within 30 seconds and he still did the killing due to his possession of rapid fire weapons. The on-scene presence of firearms, even in the hands of trained professionals does not prevent mass killings by guns.







In addition to a vibrant national mental health system which includes statutory requirements for reporting potentially violent mental health cases, as well as resources for tracking, investigation and monitoring such persons, we simply must have stricter gun safety legislation which is now favored by 67% of the population and which is proven to reduce gun violence to near zero levels where robustly applied.


Lee Bertay

Once the Democrat Socialists seize power again, all freedom suppressing



legislation will be robustly applied indeed.


ArizAl

Humm, Let's see, if we are supposed to take Leslie at her word, then she joins those that condem the Trump administration separating of babies from their parents and placing them in concentration camps with filthy inhumane conditions much the same as was done in Hitler's white supremacy Germany. That is the republicans hatred of asylum seeking immigrants that love our country and seek nothing more than to be legally part of our american society. Very interesting the way Trump and the republican party treat those that love our country with such hatred and how they embrace and grovel up to those that want to destroy our democracy/ our country with such tactics cyber warfare on the U.S. and by murdering members of the free press and/or political opponents. The following article in the Washington Post accruately describes how the demagouge racist Trump incites hatred and violence with his immoral brain dead supporters, who then are stupid enough to go commit mass murders.



"President Trump has relentlessly used his bully pulpit to decry Latino migration as “an invasion of our country.” He has demonized undocumented immigrants as “thugs” and “animals.” He has defended the detention of migrant children, hundreds of whom have been held in squalor. And he has warned that without a wall to prevent people from crossing the border from Mexico, America would no longer be America.



“How do you stop these people? You can’t,” Trump lamented at a May rally in Panama City Beach, Fla. Someone in the crowd yelled back one idea: “Shoot them.” The audience of thousands cheered and Trump smiled. Shrugging off the suggestion, he quipped, “Only in the Panhandle can you get away with that statement.”



We already know Trump is a hater that advocates violence in his tweets and at his rallys but what is really sad is the fact that his republicans followers at his rallys would be so full of hate that they would cheer the mass murder of other american citizens ,white citizens included, all because asylum seekers want to legally apply for asylum. To leslie's other point that the crazies that commit mass murders are mentally unbalanced, I totally agree with her, it takes a mentally unbalanced persons at a Trump republican rally to cheer and applaud the shooting of another human being. That for sure, is pure unadulterated racism and hate. Also of interest and not to be forgotten, is the hypocrisy of Fascist Trump and the republicans who now are attempting to blame people with mental illness (crazies) for the mass shootings, yet they want the people to ignore the fact that it was in Feb. 28, 2017 that Trump signed H.J. Res. 40 legislation that was passed by a republican controlled congress that would allow persons with ajudicated mental illness to buy firearms.


Lee Bertay

One only needs to take a tour of "Resistance" twitter for a half hour or so



to find the real traitorous hate and racism going on with the "democrat



socialist" antifa left. Comparisons with NSDAP Germany's Labor camps



are ridiculously ignorant distortions of history. This "analysis" does score



highly for Soviet propaganda, however.


Johnny D

The first 5 lines of your vitriolic hate negated anything worthwhile you might have said later on. I'm only slightly curious why your buddy Ronzim didn't pick your letter apart asking for a myriad amount of data to back up your pejoratives.


AZBoomer

Yeah, orange man bad.. We get it Al.. Time to get a new shtick.



The legislation in question that you referenced in your partisan rant doesn't “allow” everyone with a “mental illness” to buy firearms: Federal law still prohibits someone “who has been adjudicated as a mental defective or has been committed to any mental institution” from buying or possessing a gun.


Johnny D

I am in complete agreement with with you Leslie. I've posted letters addressing this issue in the past. The gut reaction of the hard left is "the gun is the problem". As a kid I used to carry my 22 rifle with me everywhere. I hunted small game and nobody batted an eye seeing a kid with a 22. What changed? 1. The disintegration of the nuclear family. 2. Boys with no strong male role models to bring them into manhood. 3. Taking God and the teaching of morality out of the schools and the public square. There's more but as sure as the sun rises the usual people are going to rip me a new one for my quaint opinions. Keep on keepin on Leslie.


ronzim

Lee: There is virtually no Socialism in America today. There is only one candidate for high public office who declares himself to be a Democratic Socialist and that is Bernie sanders. There are no bills in the congressional hopper which contain Socialist components. There is no Socialist content in the party platforms of either major party. The Socialist Party has never fielded any candidate who received noteworthy votes in the general election for president. Socialism is a drastically failed economic system and everyone is, or should be, aware of that. If you have the names of any federal officeholder or candidate for federal office who is a Socialist(Sanders notwithstanding)please name them. Twitter feeds are not valid sources of scientific data.


Lee Bertay

Democratic Socialism is the wing of Marxism that infiltrates and undermines



it's target system without a violent revolution, which the Democrat Party



duck wears the colors of today. They quack about trillions of free stuff for



everyone that would collapse the economy and make fast work of this as



well as other soviet socialist features such as central health care and economy.



Of course these subversive candidates will not honestly run as socialist



labels. And if this is quadruple spaced again, I have no idea what that



is about.


ronzim

Johnny D says "1. The disintegration of the nuclear family. 2. Boys with no strong male role models to bring them into manhood. 3. Taking God and the teaching of morality out of the schools and the public square." This is most of the myth and shibboleth emanating from those who cannot identify the problem and offer not one suggestion for solving it--except prayer. It is inchoate on its face: He assigns lack of God and morals on the part of those who are mentally deranged, as the reason for the violence. Need I point out that mentally deranged people, bent upon violence, are not very likely to be constrained by morals and values.



Not one of his "causes" is supported by scientific research, nor data of any kind. I remind Johnny that Pinochet, the monster of Chile, was a doting father and devout Catholic. The cause of this epidemic is the prevalence and kinds of firearms available and their easy access in our society. That is the science, and no progress can be made until that point becomes the foundation of solutions.


ronzim

Lee says, " They(Democrats) quack about trillions of free stuff for everyone that would collapse the economy and make fast work of this as well as other soviet socialist features such as central health care and economy." This is untrue. To begin with, excepting only the health care administered by both the BIA and DVA, there are virtually no other examples of Socialism in the American economy. Every aspect of our economy is robustly Capitalist because all of the means of producing goods and services, as well as their pricing and distribution, are in private hands. It is silly to say otherwise.







Medicare is entirely a Capitalist enterprise because all of the federally funded health care(except BIA and DVA) is provided by privately owned, mostly for-profit, health care providers- virtually all corporations. Changing two characters in the Medicare legislation("65" to "55")does not alter the Capitalist nature of that regime of health care. Similarly, eliminating premiums, co-pays and caps does not change the Capitalist nature of the system either.







The same thing applies to education. For decades, we have provided tuition-free, debt-free, public high school education to every American child, regardless of family wealth. We increased that level of public education in response to the reality that six years of schooling was no longer sufficient to provide the minimum educational requirements for our economy to be competitive. For more than half a century, we have faced the stark reality that a high school education was no longer sufficient to meet the minimum educational requirements of our economy, but have failed to include the necessary tuition-free, debt-free, public education rendered imperative by technological advances. The increase of public education from six years to 12 years returned enormous gains both public and private. Similar economic gains can be attained from increasing our public education level from 12 to 16 years--far more than the cost.







The idea that these programs will collapse the economy in without foundation. First, we have, of course, the robust Capitalist economies of the Nordic nations, some European nations and others in Asia who have profited greatly by adopting these very programs. Why are we Americans thought to be less intelligent and less able than those nations to make similar adjustments. We are not. Second, I have identified, herein, a specific list of funding sources in the amount of just over $5 trillions per year which can pay for the education and health care program increases and still balance the budget and pay down the debt.







My suggestions include a top federal income tax level of 65%(with surcharges for the very wealthiest), a one percent tax on certain Wall Street transactions, a reduction in our bloated security spending, re-orientation of Medicare priorities, and a two percent wealth tax. Into this bargain, I also include a large decrease in employer health care costs, a secure retirement for everyone and stabilization of the inflation rate. What Lee should really be concerned about is the looming global recession brought on mostly by the economic illiteracy, the trade incompetence and the childish governance ineptitude of the current administration.





ArizAl

President Donald Trump described a weekend of two mass shootings— one in El Paso, Texas, and the other in Dayton, Ohio — as a "mental illness problem."



"We must reform our mental health laws to better identify mentally disturbed individuals who may commit acts of violence and make sure those people not only get treatment but when necessary involuntary confinement," Trump said on Monday Aug. 5th.



Interesting that President Obama's executive order that Trump and the republicans nullified with H.R. Res 40 would have done what Trump is now saying is needed...better identify mentally disturbed individuals who may pose a danger to the public or to themselves by putting them in the NICS background check. When a person applies for social security disability benefits due to a mental illness, he must deemed a "mental defective" by the proper medical authorities, which is what is required by federal law to prohibit gun purchases. As it stands now, thanks to the republicans, persons that have mental disorders such as mental retardation, schizophrenia, paranoia, psychotic disorders, personality disorders, hallucinations,delusions, etc. are able to purchase any kind of firearms, as many as they want.



Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., a leading gun control advocate in Congress, denounced Trump in 2017 for getting rid of the Obama restrictions and blasted the GOP.



"Republicans always say we don’t need new gun laws, we just need to enforce the laws already on the books,” he said in a statement. “But the republican bill signed into law today H.R. Res 40 undermines enforcement of existing laws that Congress passed to make sure the background check system had complete information.”


ronzim

Al: Excellent comments. The trouble with the tired mantra of "Just enforce the laws already on the books." is that it is almost entirely reactive. The law against murder is usually enforced by cops tracking down and arresting or killing the shooter. Our epidemic of gun violence is like any other epidemic. We can restrict ourselves to treating those who get sick and accept the death toll or we can treat and also prevent by vaccines, improved public health programs and research.







Of course we should demand robust enforcement of all criminal statutes, but we must also entrain vigorous prevention programs. To do that, relative to the gun matter, requires attaining two goals: first we must constantly screen the entire population for mentally ill persons who are potentially violent and get them into treatment as well as forbid them to have guns. This is only possible with a national gun registry which requires a comprehensive background investigation and mental health evaluation(BIMHE) every five years. Proof of a valid, current BIMHE must be shown before any firearm can be registered and proof of registration required before possession or access is granted. That means that we not only ban certain parties from gun possession as we now do, but we also implement laws and procedures which insure they do not get access.







Second, we must establish a permanent, long-term goal of steady reductions in gun prevalence in our society. That means enacting laws(consistent with the Constitution) which define exactly what kinds and how many firearms anyone may possess or have access to. There should be a massively enforced ban on the manufacture , import or sale of banned firearms as well as a buy-back program.







If all of that were enacted and enforced, it would still be wrong to claim that it would eliminate gun violence in America. It would, however, make steady annual inroads into reducing our national public health epidemic to something more like occasional events. Many other nations have done this. So can we. It only requires the political will. Illegal sales and illegal possession will still occur but we can trim that down to a size where we can strangle it with a stocking.


Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.