Shot In The Foot
Once more, the rapport of gunfire in a public area has brought debate of private gun ownership to America. And once more, the usual soundbytes are played by both sides - pro-2A saying that this is due to a mental health issue and it is improper to politicize a tragedy within a non-defined timeframe; anti-2A saying that this is due to ease of access to firearms and that weapons have no place in modern society. My opinion on the matter of private gun ownership has been previously detailed, and my opinion has not changed. But tragedy after tragedy is begetting absolutely no reform in any area related to gun violence, and as the body counts rise and the citizenry gets tired of being exposed to these terrible stories taking place in our country, calls for reform will grow.
The foremost advocate for the status quo is the National Rifle Association. The largest pro-2A organization in the United States of America, the National Rifle Association does a fantastic job in teaching responsible gun ownership and safety. But it does not stick to these practical aspects of gun ownership - it is also a political organization that holds tremendous sway within the Republican Party, directly funneling millions of dollars through the NRA, through their SuperPac, and through encouraging NRA members to support the correct candidate. These candidates then do their part in preventing further incremental laws focused on restricting gun ownership; this policy of stonewalling any reform works if you are able to maintain the necessary votes in Congress.
But it would be erroneous to say that the NRA steers the Republican Party - American politicians get their campaign funding by donations, and these donations come from every private organization on the spectrum. Included in this spectrum are insurance companies and pharmaceutical industries that are responsible for both Obamacare and the aborted Republican attempts to repeal Obamacare with a program more in line with their (donors) interests.
How are these two industries related? The NRA has long fed the idea that gun deaths in America are a result of a mental health issue. There is no doubt that there is a mental health issue in America - a combination of lack of insurance coverage and social stigma of seeing a psychologist allows the depression, anxiety, and anger issues intrinsic in modern life fester and get worse, in the same way that not addressing cancer allows that cancer to advance to more fatal stages. But there is the inescapable irony of the NRA overwhelmingly supporting the same political party that is doing its best to restrict access to mental health professionals.
Such a contradiction in policy is egregious not only in its hypocrisy, but in its cruelty. Assuming that gun violence in America is at its core a mental health issue (and considering the proportion of suicides included in gun deaths, it certainly is), withdrawing the ability for a citizen to be fiscally able to visit a psychologist is endangering not only citizens at risk for suicide, but for all other citizens that may end up in the crosshairs. And after the tragedies in Las Vegas, Sandy Hook, San Bernadino and too many other places to mention, it would be in pro-2A advocates best interest if the Republican Party did its best to expand mental health coverage.
This is because the status quo will eventually be intolerable to enough people, and if the initiative is not seized by pro-2A advocates, then there will eventually be a strong enough flip to the Democratic Party (and their anti-2A base) that will further strip Americans of more of their firearm rights - exactly the opposite of what the NRA wants. The NRA fashions itself a single-issue organization, but the plain truth is that if their message is to succeed, it must do its best to encourage programs that back up their message. If people need to handle firearms properly, encourage the creation of a Life Skills class in schools that teaches gun safety (and sex safety, and drug safety, and driving safety, and cooking - essentially learning how to adult). If gun deaths are a mental health issue, encourage NRA members to see a psychologist so as to lead the rest of the nation by example.
Because as it stands, the biggest threat to the Second Amendment is not Democrats, is not political expediency, is not tyranny - it's lack of mental healthcare. If that is the story pro-2A advocates hold themselves to, then pro-2A advocates MUST also advocate for expanded health coverage that includes mental health. These issues will be linked for as long as we hold that the Second Amendment is a necessary facet of American life and access to firearms is not the cause of these deaths. It's an unavoidable crossroads that gun advocates specifically, and the Republican Party in general, must come to terms with.
For if we don't, there will be an ever-increasing amount of massacres and deaths thrown up on media outlets on a constant cycle, and that is a fight that the Second Amendment will eventually lose.