Below is a piece I wrote for The Huffington Post not long ago, which sums up the situation we knew we were dealing with after a deranged man tried to kill members of a Panama City, Florida School Board (and really well before that). In this newest tragedy, we have a man who obviously suffered from mental illness, had gotten kicked out of school because of it, had been arrested on drug charges, such that he was rejected when he tried to join the military and had put up on his MySpace page on December 13th that "I don't feel good: I'm ready to kill a police officer! I can say it."
Yet, this was not enough to stop him from getting a gun, a high-capacity one that was not legal from 1994-2004 when their was an Assault Weapons Ban, and being able to carry this concealed weapon without any of the oversight that comes with having to get a permit (Governor Jan Brewer signed a law eliminating this nicety, so that Arizona became the 3rd state to allow this). We can thank the NRA for lobbying against any and all common-sense measures that would have any hope of preventing tragedies such as these -- even as they still are opposing the nominee to head the ATF after 4 years with that important law enforcement position left empty because of their efforts. In any case, I didn't know it would take less than a month, but the piece below looked at things and predicted events in Arizona. And there will be more, sadly, much more, unless we address these issues. A whole lot of mentally unstable & criminal minds just got a new idea...
Clearly, there's a lot of anger in America right now.
Much of it justified, as some can afford shower curtain rings that would dwarf others' weekly wages (and the latter are the ones who are lucky enough to have jobs). When you take this fact, combine it with the Orwellian "Newspeak" so pervasive in our media (which David Neiwert has written so articulately about), and multiply that by the NRA's mission to fight for the rights of criminals, the mentally ill and even terrorists to have access to guns, you have a toxic stew, ready to erupt.
And that does not even begin to discuss the lack of mental health services we provide, which has only gotten worse since the onset of The Great Recession
Scene: Panama City, Florida. A school board meeting is interrupted by a man with a criminal record of assault (with a gun) waving a gun, and furious that his wife lost her job, his benefits have run out and the board members were unwilling to raise sales taxes so she and others like her wouldn't be fired (it should be noted that reports are still sketchy, so not all of what he says about his wife and himself during the five minutes when the board members try and talk him down can be confirmed yet).
We don't yet know where he got his gun -- but we do know his criminal record and history of mental illness made it illegal for him obtain a gun of any kind. We also know that you can walk into a gun show in many states, such as Virginia, and buy any weapon, no background check necessary. The Governor of Virginia thinks that this is a-ok. No matter that everyone from members of Hezbollah to the Columbine killers to the Pentagon shooter got their guns in this manner.
Apparently, to make an omelette, you have to shoot a few eggs.
So the gun lobby marches on: Much harm, no foul.
The NRA has spent years trying to destroy and delegitimize the ATF, such that nobody has been leading this important law enforcement agency for the past 4 years. Why? Because they try and track where guns come from when they kill people. Crazy. right?
And of course we know that we are creating our very own Bonus Army, as millions are filled with despair and anxiety as we give them a pittance while extending tax cuts for people who make Richie Rich look like Oliver Twist.
So is this our future? Videos of killers wielding illegal guns and holding innocent people hostage -- or worse. Reality TV, gone very, very wrong.
Unless/until we decide that gun safety, economic equality, and preventing pundits from inciting riot/slandering whole groups of people on air are reforms worth fighting for. Stay tuned on this one. In the meantime, sadly, I can promise you one thing: Many mini-revolutions such as this will be televised.
And it will be ugly.