Debates over gun control vs. mental illness after a mass shooting are ridiculous kabuki dances that defy reason but have become so ingrained in our culture that their essential irrationality is invisible.
The dance begins with a tragic shooting rampage by a young man dressed in camo with a semi-automatic rifle or pistol. Gun-control advocates take to the airwaves calling, again, for greater regulation. Initially, the NRA and its shills, aware of their shameful political vulnerability at this moment, are quiet “out of respect for the grieving families. Soon, however, when pressed, they begin talking about mental illness and call for a “national conversation” about how to detect, treat, and handle these disturbed individuals and others who might become like them. Eventually, when the threat of regulation gains traction, they begin to play political hardball and fight any reforms at any cost. The Newtown killings were different only in that we got to watch the Executive Director of the NRA, Wayne LaPierre, prematurely and inelegantly open his organization’s kimono a bit and reveal the true extent of an underlying delusional and paranoid view of the world when he advocated armed guards in every school in America.
I’m not going to argue the mainstream progressive position on gun control, only because it is well known and, in my opinion, occupies the only rational and humane space in this debate.