I strongly disagree with Brik McDill’s view in his Oct. 6 Viewpoint ("What lies ahead as Kern deals with the gun violence brought home Sunday?") that since you cannot legislate away the evil inside people, we should do NOTHING — absolutely nothing — to restrict the easy access to weapons designed for offense, for easily killing a lot of humans in a short amount of time.
He said that we should instead put our resources on mental health for the victims and their families. (Troubling that he doesn’t say anything about improving mental health resources to find and treat troubled individuals in order to prevent mass shootings in the first place, but I digress.) I disagree with the reasoning that assumes humans are born evil (God made us that way) and, therefore, we should do nothing to protect others from the whims of that evil nature.
There are some theological problems with the assumption, but even if you assume we’re born evil, we have all sorts of societal norms, rules and laws to check those evil tendencies. We do NOT give up trying to prevent those evil tendencies from having their way.
Human trafficking, child abuse, sexual abuse, domestic abuse, etc. have also been around for at least a millennia, but we do continue to try to stop them with societal norms, rules and laws designed to make them harder to do. A more recent example is opioid abuse. That is also the result of human nature, but we have restrictions on the sale of opioids, and further restrictions are probably coming.
I also disagree with his illogic that says since we cannot find every last weapon of mass violence, we should not place ANY restrictions on weapons that can be used for mass violence. No, we can create restrictions even while knowing they won’t be perfect. We can iterate to a better solution and not be paralyzed by the feeling that it has to be perfect at the start. In just about every other problem of our lives, we know that we take steps (plural) toward the solution.
At least McDill did not express the other illogical view that is usually stated in the same breath as the “humans are evil” — “gun restrictions won’t end every single act of violence” mantra. Extremists in gun rights advocacy use the fear- mongering statement that any form of gun control will lead to an absolute, total blanket ban on any and all guns. This view says that ANY form of gun control goes against the second amendment. Really? Come on! If we can place restrictions on our first amendment rights that reasonable people will agree with, surely we can find a middle ground on second amendment rights that reasonable people can agree with.
It doesn’t have to be so binary. Maybe something like you can own the number of guns that you can carry with two hands plus two and if you want more, you need approval from a licensed mental health professional or something else. I don’t know what the middle ground would be, but rules and laws that enable someone to own 50-plus assault rifles without anyone else knowing about it do need to be changed.
As enlightened adults, can’t we come to a middle ground that still honors the second amendment? With “multideca-victim” shootings rapidly increasing, isn’t it time to find a way to stop it before it becomes the new norm?
Nick Strobel, a long-time resident of Bakersfield, writes the twice-monthly Stargazing astronomy column in Eye Street. These views are his alone.