Letter 2 America for May 9, 2023

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Dear America,

The most recent spate of multiple murders of strangers occurred in Texas and elicited the usual preposterously specious response from the gun lobby and enthusiasts, in particular, Texas governor Gregg Abbott.  Once again he intoned the abjectly inadequate observation that the problem isn't guns; it's mental illness.  So this letter goes out to all Americans, but it is addressed particularly to him, and it's gravamen is this: if you know what the problem is, why haven't you fixed it?  After all, you're a governor in a state populated by people who agree with you, so why haven't you addressed the problem effectively?  Of course that's a rhetorical question in that we aren't the only country that experiences mental illness.  But we do have more guns per capita than any other country in the world, and more multiple murders by far than any other nation.  In fact, U.S. News reports that we have twice as many guns per capita as the next most armed nation--that's Yemen where civil war is raging.  It is true that there are other nations with higher rates of gun deaths per capita, but the U.S. proudly ranks forth among the 40 largest nations world-wide in that report.  All that being said, the statistical analyses that are available today are not categorical in attributing mass murder, even in the main, to the sale of assault rifles and large magazines for them.  After all, a ban would only prevent the wackos from buying them, which would not address the wackos who already own one or more.  Without some way to retrieve the ones already in the hands of those who menace society, no remedy can be even predominantly successful in preventing mayhem and murder.  But that isn't really the issue, is it?  Even if we can't prevent all atrocities, shouldn't we at least try to prevent some of them?  Governor Abbott?  Shouldn't we?  And as a follow-up question, what have you done in that regard?  Have you done anything?

And there are some things that can play a roll in reducing mass murder.  For example, the Sandy Hook massacre was perpetrated by a mentally impaired 20 year old.  He shot and killed twenty six-to-seven year old children and six of the adults who educated them at their school.  But just before he did so he murdered his mother with one of several firearms she owned and allegedly left unsecured about the house.  There was at least one report that she had bought her son the assault rifle he used at Sandy Hook, and apparently, she shared here enthusiasm for guns with her two sons, one of whom then lived with his father in another state.  With all that in mind, a law requiring that firearms be stored in locked containers might have kept the murderer from gaining access to the murder weapon, assuming that is that the mother would have obeyed the law, which the authorities might have made her do if they had been made aware that she did not.  That combined with a "red flag law" that authorized the confiscation of guns under such circumstances might have prevented at least the extent of the assailant's villainy, if not the event in its entirety.

And the perpetrators of such killings often advertise on the internet their intent to commit their heinous acts.  There are frequently reports after mass murders with assault rifles in particular of pictures of the killers posing  with their weapons whilst bloviating about their intentions and motivations.  Requiring social media companies to track and report such occurrences, and laws inculpating, either civilly or criminally, those who are aware of such public statements of evil intent who don't report them to authorities with the power to confiscate the weapons in question could serve to prevent some and possibly many of these tragic events.  Parents who provide weapons to their children are already liable for the damage they do under civil law if they knew or should have known of the potential for their progeny to commit such acts, but criminal liability statutes could also be fortified to include those who knew of the child's potential to act malevolently but took no action.  Governor Abbott knows about such laws in that he pushed one imposing civil liability on those who help young women obtain abortions, even out of state where they are legal, and he empowered everyone in the state to bring those civil actions like vigilantes. He claims on that ground to be pro-life.  Is he not pro-life to the end of preserving the lives of those killed by assault rifles?

So back to the beginning.  Abbott knows how to curtail conduct he doesn't like by imposing the force of law against those who commit such acts.  And with the power to promote taxation to allow Texas to effectively address the mental illness to which he attributes mass murders with weapons like the Sandy Hill Bushmaster automatic rifle, he could at least be attempting to address mental illness that is potentially fatal to his fellow Texans.  But has he done anything that we know of that might be of the use he says is needed?  No.  To me that renders Abbott one of two things: at best a moron, or at worst more likely, a hypocrite.  Neither is a credential for high office...except apparently in Texas.

Your friend


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This page contains a single entry by Michael Wolf published on May 9, 2023 3:58 PM.

Letter 2 America for April 27, 2023 was the previous entry in this blog.

Letter 2 America for May 25, 2023 is the next entry in this blog.

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