President Obama Struggles to Hold It Together

Well said.


Obviously, one problem here is that, thanks to lax gun laws, near military grade weapons too readily fall into the hands of the mentally ill in the United States. Without taking away a person’s right to own a gun for purposes of self defense, there must be a way to keep semi-automatic weapons out of the hands of the sick.

The second problem is that we live in a deeply nihilistic culture, full of violence packaged as entertainment. Most can handle the media violence without becoming violent themselves, but a significant minority cannot. Therefore, those who cannot simply must be kept from owning weapons, period. It’s easier to tighten gun laws and fund mental health institutions than it is to change the broader entertainment and pop culture.

The irony is that the entertainment culture makes conservatives paranoid, leading them to insist on lax gun laws, and the lax gun laws in turn lead to dramatic killings, which heightens anxiety still more. It’s a vicious circle of contending liberties with both sides arguing that their side can handle either violent image viewing or gun access (depending on which form of liberty you affirm).

On his radio show today, Rush Limbaugh implied that entertainment liberty should be curbed rather than gun ownership:

If you people on the left are so eager to control things, we actually need some values control.  We actually need some social guardrails.

And so the merry-go-round of recriminations spins.

About Santi Tafarella

I teach writing and literature at Antelope Valley College in California.
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3 Responses to President Obama Struggles to Hold It Together

  1. Staffan says:

    Guns are easily available in lots of countries. Here in Sweden we have some 30 thousand members of something like your National Guard who are allowed to keep their AKs at home. But so far not a single school shooting.

    The people who committ these acts usually have personality disorders or sometimes other psychiatric conditions. If you look at a summary from the journal World Psychiatry, you can see that the largest international survey found a prevalence of 7.6 percent of personality disorders in USA which is three times as much as Western Europe and second only to Lebanon.

    So what you really should be thinking about is how to prevent and treat personality disorders. Or, perhaps more realistically, how to monitor people with these disorders.

    • Santi Tafarella says:

      I wonder if high diagnoses of personality disorders in the United States are a product of more frequent looking and testing. Perhaps, culturally, people look for therapists more in the United States than in other countries, then get a diagnosis and become part of that larger statistic.

      I suppose one way you might keep guns out of the hands of the mentally ill is to not allow the purchase of a gun before evaluation by a psychiatric professional. And also banning all semi-automatic weapons would help as well.


      • Staffan says:

        While this may be true, there are real life outcomes of personality disorders in terms of violent crime and drug abuse both of which are much more common in America than in Western Europe. That seems to at least partly validate the epidemiologists.

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