Mental health/Gun control

Item: Concern that the Obama administration could impose a new ban on some semiautomatic weapons is driving worried gun owners to stockpile ammunition and cartridge reloading components at such a rate that manufacturers can’t meet demand. Associated Press, March 29.

Item: A bill to allow concealed guns on college campuses in Texas will likely trigger lively debate today when a House committee takes up the measure. Supporters tout the idea of allowing students to have guns on campus, saying it’s one way to counter a campus shooter. Dallas Morning News, March 29.

Item: Alleged Gunman’s Wife Worked at Nursing Home: The wife of the gunman who killed seven elderly patients and a nurse at a nursing home here on Sunday worked at the nursing home, the police said Monday morning. New York Times, March 30.

It took all of 30 seconds to collect those news stories off the internet. The bottom line is this: We’ve got a gun problem in the United States. But the gun problem may be but a symptom of larger issues in this country, and a reactive change to gun laws would be about as effective as a Band-Aid on a bullet wound.

Let’s face it: Americans love our guns. Seventy million Americans own guns. According to, a recent USA Today/Gallup poll finds that 73 percent of Americans believe the Second Amendment guarantees the rights of Americans to own guns. They make us feel secure. They can help us protect our families.

We’re Nevadans—we love our guns even more than most Americans. But we’d have to be damned fools not to be able to see that America has a gun problem. So, where do we go from here?

It’s a conundrum. Our Constitution, through the Second Amendment—even if it’s only through U.S. Supreme Court interpretation—guarantees us the right to bear arms. One school of thought says the Founding Fathers gave American citizens that right in order to allow us to protect ourselves against the government if the government became too powerful or despotic.

Think about that. Superior firepower in the days of single-shot muzzleloaders meant superior numbers. In a country where many or most homes were armed, not even a despotic army could have superior numbers.

That’s why things like automatic weapons have been generally available to average citizens in this country: The government has them. But even that logic has its limits. For example, it doesn’t seem right that our neighbor should have a nuclear weapon, even if the government owns many. Your neighbor might go crazy and kill a lot of people.

Let’s be pragmatic about this. In this country, there is no imaginable scenario by which an armed rebellion could overcome a despotic government. But just the same, we’re probably not giving up our guns and trusting the government never to become despotic.

Somehow, though, it seems in times of economic and political stress, those mass killings at nursing homes, traffic stops, places of employment and churches increase. It appears that way anyway.

Is it possible that now is the time for Americans to look at health care—and in particular—mental health care to help ensure that people don’t go crazy and take their legal guns and kill a lot of people?