By Sarason D. Liebler | Aug 03, 2012

Two weeks ago Aurora, Colo., was the latest scene of societal horror. The mass shooting at the premier of the latest Batman movie took more than a dozen lives outright and scarred the well-being of millions. Besides the constant news reporting on the circumstances of the shootings, comments of op-ed writers like me, and instant blog responses by at least thousands, we are not one step closer to being able to come to a cogent understanding of why these things happen, much less what we can do to prevent them.

Pleas for gun control have come quick and indeed, if carried to the extreme in eliminating all guns from society, one could argue that efficient mass slaughter would be harder to pull off. However, with somewhere around 200 million guns already in private ownership in this country, any thoughts of collecting them and making them disappear is simply unrealistic. Further, with the ready availability, legal or not, of relatively cheap new weapons with higher rates of fire and ammunition capacity than what any hunter or collector would ever need, the sick or criminal mind will find no difficulty in acquiring what ever they want.

The real cause of these types of incidents, whether they take place in this country, peace-loving and rational Norway or frenzied and irrational locales, is mental illness. Whether committed by individuals or mobs, a mental dislocation of reason becomes a cozy incubator for explosive violence and the perpetrators, single or multiple in numbers, believe that they have a very cogent reason for their behavior.

So, do I propose that we do nothing? No, in this country, we can still do some logical things in the hope of stopping some of those who are headed off the rails of reason from ease of bringing their nightmares to fruition. I would propose a more effective form of gun control than we have today.

Weapons not required for reasonable up-close personal protection or for bona fide hunting should not be available for purchase and should be illegal to own. Those who own hunting weapons should be required to have a hunting license that would only be issued after an acceptable level of screening of applicants. All concealable weapons should require a police force-approved license with special and more stringent requirements for the right to carry concealable weapons outside one's home.

As a matter of full disclosure, let me state that I am a gun owner and would willingly, if somewhat unhappily, comply with such a set of rules and laws. Unfortunately, many of today’s firearms owners would not.

Also unfortunately, with today’s paranoia about disappearing liberties and freedoms, spouting from those on both the left and the right, gaining meaningful compliance will be very difficult. I believe that part of the reason for this is that the underlying paranoia, mentioned above, plants and nurtures the seed of insanity that is present in those who commit the type of slaughter we are seeing and the many more who contemplate such acts.

Will these recommendations’ solve the problem? I don’t think so. The problem cannot be solved, it can only be weakly mitigated. While I have no background or training in mental illness, I think it is evident that the human mind is fragile. One must be wary of creating a personal paranoia, which is illuminated by the joke of one man telling his wife, “the whole world is crazy except you and I, and I am not truly sure about you."

What can one do? One can be careful. I have seen mental illness while in military service, as well as civilian life. It unnerves me. I am always willing to argue a point with anyone, indeed I enjoy a heated debate, but when I see irrational positions being taken I stop, I withdraw. When I see a civilian person legally and proudly wearing a weapon in a non-threatening situation, I stay clear of such people. When I see, on TV, a private person carrying an assault weapon at a political rally, I am uneasy, angry and believe that the person should be removed from the rally and disarmed. Such provocative behavior should be illegal.

There are many who will take exception to my view. I believe I have heard and weighed all sides of the argument, and they do have an argument. But chaos is the far greater threat.

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