Letter to the Editor: Multiple factors lead to mass shootings


Dear Highlights,
The headline reads “Stop Blaming Mental Illness For Mass Shootings”. Well then, what is to blame? I can’t really tell from the Op-Ed piece written by Catherine Gagulashvili. Clearly, we have a problem in the U.S. when we compare ourselves to the rest of the civilized western world but the reasons are many.
What we’ve seen since Columbine in 1999 is the result of a variety of factors. Certainly, access to guns and so called assault style weapons is a factor but that alone isn’t the cause. Mental health issues, social media influences and simple teen angst all play into these events. And banning assault weapons isn’t going to eliminate all mass murder. We’ve seen political terrorists use airplanes and trucks to commit mass murder but no one calls for those to be banned.
Guns are unique among the weapons used to commit mass murder and terrorist acts for a couple of reasons. For one thing, guns, when used as intended, do just one thing; destroy people and things. The same can’t be said for trucks or airplanes. What also make guns different than other things that might be used for mass killing is that we have the right to have them as expressed in the 2nd Amendment and affirmed by the U.S. Supreme Court.
To be precise, the 2nd Amendment used the phrase “…keep and bear arms”. It doesn’t use the word guns, it instead says arms. One could reasonably argue that arms includes not just guns but also bombs, explosives, rocket propelled grenades and so on. Yet we readily accept strict limitations on who can possess these other items that might be called arms. Why is that?
The reason we accept limitations on arms other than guns is because we recognize the inherent danger such arms present to the public. They are so dangerous that by law we only allow persons who are properly trained and supervised to handle and use them. No one questions that. Yet we don’t apply the same logic to weapons like the AR-15. I think we should.
It was Benjamin Franklin who’s quoted as saying “Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.” This country is wrestling with exactly that choice.
Consider what happened during the 1992 Los Angeles riots when the LAPD, under Chief Darrell Gates, pulled back and abandoned a large portion of south central leaving citizens completely unprotected. People on the streets were attacked and stores looted and burned. And we saw images of store owners with assault weapons on roof tops trying to protect themselves and their stores while the LAPD was nowhere to be found. Would we say that those store owners should not have had those weapons under those circumstances. Under any circumstances?
Things to think about.
Jerry Levinson
BHHS Class of ’79