By Ann Melby Shenkle (Doylestown)
On the morning after the shooting in Oregon, the FBI was looking at the shooter who took nine lives. He was described as lonely and reclusive. He left behind writings in which he said he was angry and depressed. He was discharged from the Army for administrative reasons. Was all of this not sufficient warning? Yet nothing was done.
We helped the shooter. We made it easy for him to own at least 13 guns, all legally purchased, for no good reason whatsoever.
He was not a hunter, not a target shooter, and did not need self-protection. We helped him by not passing any federal law or regulation that might “interfere” with his “right” to own as many guns as he wanted. He needed no character affirmation from anyone. No one was required to sign his/her name attesting to his being of sound mind and character. Goodness no. That would have interfered with his Second Amendment rights.
We made it easy for the shooter to act out his anger and craziness. We passed no laws requiring guns to be locked up. We did not insist that owning guns required liability insurance, and that getting that insurance would require a stringent background check.
We helped the shooter by not noticing. People knew that he had guns. He had to buy ammunition. He had to keep them somewhere. The shooter’s Internet posts were read by people who knew about his growing anger and mental instability. Did anyone talk to his mother? And if they did, was she defensive of his “rights?” Or was she afraid?
In every one of the American mass shootings, someone knew the shooter had guns and was potentially dangerous. After the church massacre (in Charleston, South Carolina), the FBI muttered threats about bringing charges against friends of the shooter. Why didn’t the friends come forward? The gun culture has severe penalties for anyone who might have spoken. But there is no path in recognized law enforcement for reporting concerns about potential gun violence.
If a teacher sees a child with frequent bruises, he or she can report it anonymously and trigger an investigation. If a person brags about their increasing capacity to kill a bunch of people, there is no place to report it.
Long-distance truck drivers are required by law to be stable. People worry about potential harm from medication, automobiles, potholes, even bad doctoring. And they phone it in. They are encouraged to phone it in. But a gun stash? Oh, no. That is a “right.” And it is a slippery slope. If people start noticing and acting on their concerns, then “all our guns are threatened.”
An organization did help the shooter. A national organization has worked tirelessly and expended huge amounts of money to protect the public from doing anything at all to slow down crazy shootings. In Pennsylvania, the gun culture succeeded in demanding that every community rescind every gun ordinance or be sued into bankruptcy. The peculiar American helplessness about legal action to constrain gun violence falls smack upon the reality of making politicians afraid to even try anything.
Second Amendment? The uprising that the framers thought was important to defend against has now come around to biting us in the butt. The “militia” that the framers sought to “well regulate” is marching into our homes, schools, churches and even the movies.
None of us will ever be safe until we do something about the runaway gun industry, the gun lobby and the ability to own guns for no purpose other than killing other people. The murders will continue until we toss out the wimpy politicians who continue to parrot “Second Amendment protections” after every child is shot, after every All-American mass murder.