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Mental illness should not become a blanket barrier to owning a firearm

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I want to buy a gun.

As a kid, I loved westerns — those with Roy Rogers, Gene Autry, Hopalong Cassidy, and John Wayne. They were heroes — good guys in white hats defeating bad guys in black hats. Those heroes had guns — but they never drew first. That was the code of the West.

One movie — Winchester ’73, starring James Stewart — touted the gun I wanted most. I saw that rifle, that lever-action carbine, and I wanted one. But I was just a kid.

Now I’m not a kid. So I want to buy a Winchester Model 94 Carbine. It’s only about twelve hundred bucks. I can afford it. Lever action, seven-shot magazine, satin wood finish, brushed steel barrel. I have friends who can teach me to safely shoot it, respect it, and maintain it. So why not?

As I salivate, two thoughts emerge.

First, what the hell would I do with it? I’m not a hunter nor do I wish to become one. Do I need to defend my home against armed invaders? Unlikely. I never served in the military or law enforcement. People can train me to fire the carbine accurately, but I doubt they can train me, at my age, to steel myself sufficiently to kill someone with it in hurried self-defense. So, I suppose, I can just shoot tin cans off the fence posts from my deck. Is that worth twelve hundred bucks plus the cost of ammo and accessories and items for maintenance?

Second, I have endured episodes of depression, panic disorder, and anxiety since I was a teenager. I have been medicated off and on for more than 50 years. I am a high-functioning individual with three degrees who has spent nearly three decades teaching undergraduates how to write. The only harm I’ve done to any of them is with a red pen.

Politicians and others trying grapple with who should not be permitted to own a firearm slur millions of decent but troubled people by uttering a vague phrase — mental health — in the context of gun rights or gun control. The president of the United States wants to usurp due process and yank guns out of the hands of someone presumed dangerous because of concerns about his or her mental health.

Who decides that? Based on what evidence? Provided by whom? Gathered in what legal manner? Adjudicated in what court?

Anyone who kills in a mass, indiscriminate fashion is by definition fucking crazy. But not all and likely not the majority of those suffering from an emotional or psychological malady are insane enough to commit mass murder. We’re unhappy, not homicidal.

So I want to buy a gun. If you try to prevent me from doing that, the wrath of many lawyers will rain down upon you.


Written by Dr. Denny Wilkins

March 8, 2018 at 7:30 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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