“We’re gonna need a bigger boat.” Brody tells Quint, obviously much calmer than he seems to be feeling in the moment. He repeats it causing Quint to head out on deck and view the large shark which will later eat him. Quint is in now way interested in getting a bigger boat but, once again, we as a society, are wondering, like Brody, if we need a bigger boat in the wake of a new mass shooting at an Oregon Junior College. The left leaning members of our community are saying this very thing in regards to public safety. We need a bigger boat. We need more laws governing guns. We need increased safety. We need increased legislation pertaining to the availability and use of guns.
It would seem that, as usual under these circumstances, the left occupies the moral high ground. After all, they get to point at innocent dead and wounded people and ask why. And it isn’t really a horrible question. What is horrible may be the answer because the why is because another crazy person fell through the cracks, acted out, and in the process took the lives of others into his own hands. But would new laws have prevented this latest atrocity were they in effect? Would new laws prevent future atrocities of this sort? Do we need a bigger boat?
Well, I already did a little checking and it seems we have laws governing just such issues. In Oregon for example, as it appears below, the state of Oregon states that you shall not be allowed to possess a firearm if you are found mentally ill in reference to ORS 426 130. Title 35, section 426 130 relates to “Court determination of mental illness; discharge; release for voluntary treatment; conditional release; commitment; assisted outpatient treatment; prohibition relating to firearms; period of commitment.” This basically says if, under these conditions, you have been deemed mentally ill, you can’t have a gun.
The federal version of this same basic idea appears below.
Now, I know no one likes to hear this part but, it seems to me reading this information would mean the laws are in place. Who would have thought that? So what might this then mean to us, as a nation? We already have the bigger boat and the shark still gets us. So the next obvious questions are, do we use the bigger boat effectively? Do we use the bigger boat at all? Judging by results we have to answer no to at least one of those questions one would think.
Thinking can be troubling though because sometimes it shakes up perceptions. I mean, the perception here is that crazy people are allowed to kill us anytime they want. And if said crazy person is never exposed to the mental health professionals that could flag him for these laws to go into effect, then reality is that the crazy person can slip through the cracks. This means reality and perception are pretty close here so we must ask, whatever could we do to fix that in a free country like America.
In a free society do we require mandatory mental health testing of everyone for the sake of safety? Maybe we test only those people wanting to do things we deem dangerous, like owning weapons? Maybe we encourage our fellow citizens to remain vigilant and report mental instability in friends and neighbors, because that couldn’t become a problem. Or maybe, living in a free society requires some responsibility to that freedom? maybe living in a free society requires the acceptance of certain levels of danger? Maybe freedom means you must have personal responsibility. And further, personal responsibility might include that, while you can, and should, control your own actions, you must accept that it is not right, or possible, to control or legislate the actions of others. Risk is part of freedom.
I guess the point is, the laws exist, and the problems really seem to be revolving around crazy people and a free society’s inability to police a subject like that without going down some strange dark roads. I guess we could go the left route and disarm the nation. Remove the 2nd amendment to the constitution. Collect all the weapons that scare us. It isn’t like the 2nd amendments purpose is relevant any longer. It was originally written to allow for a standing militia in the absence of a military. We now have a military. It was in part written so the people would have recourse; a way to address an oppressive government by taking up arms against it. We now have a military covers this one also as a tank trumps your glock. And last, guns were needed to procure food. We now have supermarkets.
But this doesn’t mean your gun possession is a particular danger, or should be overthrown. Guns are a freedom, a right, that we enjoy. It is OK to say “I like my guns and do not dare take them.” This is, after all, a freedom loving nation and one should not be expected to give up freedoms when one has done nothing to warrant that. So maybe instead we could look to enforcement.
Maybe we need to be able to enforce the laws on the books a bit better, but how? An increased police presence isn’t really affordable as cutbacks in police departments are already occurring nationwide. We might change priorities in police departments. We might possibly focus less on the lost war on drugs. We could stop arresting people for smoking weed and ask the police to instead arrest violent criminals and follow up on reports of domestic violence and localized incidents between family and neighbors in an effort to curb violence before it escalates to the level in Oregon. Maybe even a database, separate and away from your actual medical records, that lists potential violent offenders, and mental health risks with violent tendencies. Give access to this limited database to people that sell weapons.
After 9/11 we, as a nation, tossed aside a lot of rights to the government in the name of safety. It is now a lot harder to turn your underwear into explosives and fly about the country. And yes, let’s be real, guns kill. They were designed to do this so your denial or surprise are not needed. But many things kill. Automobiles for instance kill more humans in the United States every year than any other mode of transportation. We do not abolish them. We legislate. We enforce to the best of our ability. We comfort the loved ones after this fails. We move on.
Benjamin Franklin is reported to have said, “they that give up liberty to obtain temporary safety deserve neither liberty or safety.” Which it would seem pretty much sums it up. So calm down because the boat is big enough it just need a few tweaks.
  http://www.ncsl.org/research/civil-and-criminal-justice/possession-of-a-firearm-by-the-mentally-ill.aspx