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.