Wiederaenders: Influences, records affect fatal decisions

In lieu of a Friday Catchall this week, please read the following. Thank you.

If you’ve ever wondered what this country is coming to and how we can fix it, consider the influences we and our children are subjected to on a regular basis and how some parts of our lives are “sealed.”

While talking with a friend the other night, we were debating society’s problems when news of another shooting entered the conversation.

Think about our youth — which could be anyone 30-something or younger? — who play assault or war games on game consoles. They attack and kill hundreds of people without a thought and, after they die, the characters — some who represent real people — are magically alive again on the next turn or level of the video game.

These kids have no concept of “permanent.” Death is permanent and they do not see it or understand it. (Thus, the mantra that suicide is never the correct answer; it is a permanent answer to a temporary problem.)

All of this is relevant when we and our lawmakers deliberate gun control changes, which comes up every time there is a shooting. If you look at the polar opposites of the debate, such as no changes or full confiscation or outlawing of weapons, the rhetoric enters comical levels (think: impossibilities).

However, when thinking about more middle-of-the-road solutions – such as more thorough background checks and fingerprinting — we start to see workable answers. This is also known as making sure the laws on the books work and work correctly.

Add in the mental health aspect, and we step even closer to a real fix.

I recall suggesting in this space in January 2011, after Rep. Gabrielle Giffords was seriously wounded, six were killed and 13 injured in a Tucson shooting, that we need to marry the mental health records of individuals to background checks.

Consider that the juvenile mental health records of Seung-Hui Cho, a senior at Virginia Tech, did not make their way into his adult life. They were “sealed,” though he was not “cured.” Nearly four years into his college career, in 2007, he killed 32 people and injured 17 others in two shooting attacks on campus before committing suicide.

Who knew? His counselors.

“Oh, you can’t do that — it’s called client-privilege or privacy,” critics have said.

Not when a risk exists for someone to be mortally wounded.

Is that too much “Big Brother” for our lives? If you say yes, what will you say if it involves your spouse or child?

I don’t consider these the “golden solutions” we’ve all been searching for — for decades. I do, however, tire of the talking heads thinking it’s all about a weapon they know so little about and dismissing the root of the problems we’re facing.

By the way, did you know fully-automatic weapons are already banned? It is perfectly legal for a law-abiding citizen to own a full-auto machine gun; it must be one made before 1986. 

Did you know that one .22-caliber rifle looks like something off a ranch and another — same rifle with different colors, stock and mag — looks like an “assault rifle”? Same action, same bullets.

Educate yourself, open your mind, and know that we cannot continue to keep trying the same things over and over, expecting different results.

If so, we are all insane, already.

PARTING SHOT – “The answer to crime is not gun control, it is law enforcement and self-control.” – Alan Keyes

Follow Tim Wiederaenders on Twitter @TWieds_editor. Reach him at 928-445-3333, ext. 2032, or twieds@prescottaz.com.

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