If I was a conspiracy theorist, I would swear I just saw the biggest bait and switch in American history. Today our president did yet another end runaround Congress by using his Executive Authority to enact a few new restrictions on gun ownership rights which his opponents say is a slippery-slope way of undermining the 2nd Amendment.
Predictably, the conservatives will go to their corner and go into attack mode. The Democrats will praise President Obama for finally taking action to try to curb gun violence. Notwithstanding that today’s executive action would have done nothing to prevent the tragic Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings, nor would it have prevented the terrorist shootings in Oregon nor San Bernardino; the anti-gun lobbyists scored a huge victory.
The government has given themselves (or taken away from the people) a little more authority to “regulate” who buys guns, who sells them and who owns them. But the President did something else. He not only failed to address the real underlying problem of gun violence, but he also opened the way for the U.S. government to use “mental health” as a way of getting further into our private lives.
Obama’s new order will restrict people who have a history of mental illness from getting a gun legally (it should be noted that the shooter in the Sandy Hook killings had a long history of mental illness, but he had access to his mothers stash of weapons, again noting that today’s actions would have done nothing to prevent the shooter from getting access to his mom’s guns). This means anyone who suffers from depression, to young adults who might have been treated with ADHD at some point in their lives, even to someone who just happens to see a shrink. How do you define mental illness? Who defines mental illness, after all? The doctor, the patient, the State of Illinois?
Further, the President has allocated half a billion dollars towards the expansion of “mental health” services. But what does this mean? It means more and more people will be diagnosed with mental illness, and it means more people will no doubt be prescribed more psychotropic drugs to treat the myriad of mental disorders that have been created by the very industry that sells medication to treat mental illness, which means more and more cases of people like the Aurora ,Colorado shooter will spring up because more and more mental patients who refuse to stay doped up will freak out with guns in their hands.
Let me also add that the real problem with gun violence in the United States has to do with our failed war on illegal drugs. Drug dealers buy guns, and they don’t buy them from law abiding citizens, they steal them, or they get them from Mexico or other countries who deal in arms sales, again, people who don’t follow laws in the first place.
It is necessary for me to add one more bone-chilling factoid to this already horrible situation having to do with guns, drugs and failed U.S. policy.
Last year Big Pharma made $15-billion dollars in profits from the sale and distribution of Oxycontin and its secondary products (oxycodone, hydrodone, etc). Pain clinics sprang up like fast-food joints (ever wonder why there is a CVS on every corner in almost any city?) The problem of heroin use has skyrocketed because heroin is a cheap alternative to Oxy or other over-prescribed pain meds, and sooner or later people who get can’t get prescription refills turn to the streets.
Now, thanks to irresponsible (and often greedy) physicians who handed pain meds out like candy, hospitals, law enforcement agencies and our courts have spent in excess of $55-billion dealing with the problem of heroin addiction. Because heroin is so profitable on the street, this has created a literal drug war in every major U.S. city in America – and this is where most of the gun violence is occurring. Did anyone mention this connection of addicton and gun violence recently? Have any of our legislators connected these dots, or have they been blinded by the contributions made by “big pharma” towards the coffers of Mr. Politicians’ re-election campaign?
Think 1930’s Chicago during the prohibition and you begin to understand why so many people are getting shot. It’s about turf and who controls it so drugs can be peddled.
The Executive Order President Obama implemented today will only create more addicts who will again be peddled more anti-psychotic drugs and pain meds by doctors (who get nice kickbacks from your favorite pharmaceutical company), so now we will not only have more people taking pills, but we will also have more addicts and more psychotics roaming the streets either looking for a fix or looking to take out innocent bystanders with an illegal $200 dollar gun they just purchased from a guy named Julio on the south side of Chicago, or the east side of Los Angeles.
But it’s not all Obama’s fault. It’s the fault of our medical system, a free-market enterprise that worships profits over common sense health care, congressional leaders who have no interest in political suicide by saying our so-called War on Drugs isn’t working, social activists who think if we just get rid of guns everyone will get along, and let’s not forget a mass of Americans who take a pill for every ache and pain that hits them.
We are a nation of idiots.
Most of the mass shootings in our recent history have had some relation to either the over prescription and abuse of legal drugs, or the selling and trafficking of illegal drugs. Either way, gun violence and drugs go hand in hand.
Spending more money to help medicate and classify people as a “mental risk,” and who would then be prohibited from buying guns isn’t the answer. It’s already too easy to buy a gun illegally. Today’s action by the president does nothing to change this reality, but only exacerbates an already out-of-control problem.
A real first step to fighting gun violence is not to throw money at the wrong solution, but to ascertain the right solution, which is to deal with America’s addiction problem for what it is, a disease. If we declassify illegal drugs and dispense them just as we do now with legal prescriptions, and we monitor and treat people who have addiction problems – and regulate the dispensary of highly addictive narcotics, we vastly reduce the black market profit machine, thus removing the incentive for drug cartels to take over our cities.
There will always be social misfits who love getting high. Cocaine, pot, heroin, meth, these mind and mood altering drugs will always be in demand, but if we regulate the industry we gain control over it, and gun violence will go down. If we eliminate the profits, we reduce the criminal element.
It’s complicated, but we can also make huge gains if we start looking at the real problem of gun violence as it relates to our war on drugs and our nations’ addiction to drugs. This is a first step in the right direction.
All President Obama did today was embolden the drug companies, take more power until itself away from citizens who are already law abiding, and probably drove up the prices of what a street pistol will cost if you buy it on the black market.
What happens when the next mass shooting occurs and we find out it was a mental patient whose father legally owned the revolver that was used in the shooting at some mall in middle-America? Who will we blame then? The gaming industry?
Our politicians failed us.
Let the charade of feigned anger begin.
Jim Watkins is the host of Tampa Bay’s Your Wake Up Call on News Talk AM 820 News from 6 to 9am weekdays and on NewsTalkFlorida.com.