I know three important people.
One is an acquaintance; the second, an old friend; and, the third, my beloved.
All of these are individuals of high caliber. Together, they present to all of humankind in this country we call America the beginning, and the end, of the most important argument society faces today.
My acquaintance’s name is Martine. She is a gifted orator, a devoted mother, and an all around creative. Martine was the first to declare to me that statistics show some 80% of those diagnosed with mental illness are non-violent.
My old friend’s name is Joe. Joe is a lifelong performing musician, and dedicated teacher. Joe owns weapons, and publicly defends his right to keep them.
Both of these are law abiding American citizens in my corner of the Commonwealth of PA.
Two days ago, a man with “mental health challenges” who was undergoing treatment for the disease legally purchased an assault weapon, entered the bank where he worked in Louisville, KY and killed 5 people in seconds – critically injuring the first police officer to arrive on the scene, along with 5 more defenseless human beings.
My response to this life-defying impasse is finally clarified. Please, lean in, and hear how.
My beloved’s name is David. Though his life took a far different path, many years ago David trained at the college level to become a police officer. In conversation, the other day, David taught me about what I consider one of the most pivotal points in this national discussion.
Caliber has multiple definitions and applications; but, in the context of this discourse, the term refers to the relationship between the diameter of the bullet which fits the firearm, and the diameter of the bore through which the bullet exits the weapon. Handguns — shotguns; pistols, et al — are high caliber. High caliber causes the weapon to produce strong kickback/recoil, upon firing the bullet, requiring training to control; additionally, such weapons can only release one bullet at a time, only holding a limited number of bullets in their casing.
Assault rifles, by contrast, are very low caliber. They are designed to fire off multiple rounds as quickly as possible without having to reload, such purpose being to neutralize large numbers of enemy combatants during active warfare. And, because of their low caliber, there is no kickback/recoil; the shooter, requiring no highly developed skill controlling the weapon can repeatedly attack – with multiple, automatic rounds of ammunition – in a matter of critical seconds.
So, what did I learn from all three of these important people?
Taken together, they taught me that a mentally ill person who has access to an assault rifle has the potential to use it senselessly (meaning: out of coherent, responsible mind) and, with the ease of its low caliber, kill dozens of people in less than a minute. And, that’s not all.
Readers, hear me: just because most mentally ill are non-violent does not rule out that the remaining minority – some 20% – of those afflicted won’t become a spontaneous threat. Likewise, if a mentally ill individual has legal access to a firearm capable of easily taking the lives of several people in mere seconds, what does this tell US about how laws should be legislated?
What is the caliber of your intellect and moral capacity? I think you can answer both questions, yourself.
Copyright 4/12/23. Ruth Ann Scanzillo. Sharing by blog link, exclusively, and that not via RSS feed. Thank you for spreading the word.