The recent discussions around the President’s Executive Orders, issued in response to Sandy Hook, are spirited and continue to serve as a reminder that the nation is deeply divided on gun control.
It is no secret that, just as the National Rifle Association advocates for gun ownership, groups like the Brady Campaign advocate for gun control. Both look for opportunities to advance their agendas. Right now, both sides of the discussion are locked and loaded. We have seen a great deal of agenda advancing in recent weeks.
As an NRA member and a gun owner, I should state up front that I bring certain personal biases to the discussion. I believe that second-amendment rights are as important as our other Constitutional rights and are worth protecting. I absolutely want the ability to defend myself, especially living in a part of the country where the response time of law enforcement is limited by the geography. I also believe that limiting law abiding citizens’ gun rights isn’t going to stop mass murderers.
Talk of it, however, has become an economic development driver. If you are looking to buy a semi-automatic weapon, the attendant ammunition, or a high capacity clip, you are in a very long line of consumers. The market for these products is very hot. Federal policy has long been used to stimulate the economy, and this one certainly has.
That being said, gun ownership comes with responsibilities. Being responsible with guns is a big deal.
So is the way we are entertained with violence in this nation. Movies that center on watching human beings maimed and killed in full color and 3D are box-office hits. Playing endless hours of video games that revolve around how many humans you can kill before you are done in, (only to rise again, endlessly) has become the entertainment norm.
Mental health issues cut across all the mass shootings that I can think of. We don’t do a good job of diagnosing, treating and maintaining mental health in this country, state and county.
Oddly, we legally can’t force individuals to mental health treatment, even when treatment is available. In Douglas County, it has been recently estimated that more than half of the individuals in our jail have mental health issues. When they are in there, we can’t use Medicaid or Oregon Health Plan funds to treat them.
We are working right now to identify ways to intervene positively with mental health treatment. I will keep you posted.
Susan Morgan is a Douglas County commissioner. She welcomes your questions or comments. You can reach her by email at firstname.lastname@example.org; by mail at Douglas County Courthouse, Room 217, 1036 S.E. Douglas Ave., Roseburg, OR 97470; or by phone at 440-4201.