Friday, 14 December 2012

Love and mental health are bigger issues than gun control

[This has been co-written by Blake Stevens and Steve Shipley as both had similar views and rage when discussed over breakfast this morning and in an attempt to reach the largest group possible will be posted in each of our blogs.]

First off, we apologize for this being a long post, but it deserves the space.  Secondly, we apologize for writing this while consumed with anger, but expect that will make the article more poignant, if less coherent.  And third, we apologize to those who find it controversial and will disagree with it when in fact we are making the effort to be balanced and put the focus where the focus should be - more on love, relationships and mental health, and less on gun law.

We are by no means pro-gun.  In fact, we are anti-gun and believe in stronger gun control, tougher screening, more training, more testing and more enforcement, similar to what we do to get a driving license.  We need to be old enough, we need to take training, we need to pass a test and consistently be monitored for eye sight and other disabilities which could impair our driving and make it potentially dangerous for others.  We take away the license from those who are caught drunk-driving and we jail those who are repeat offenders.  We should have similar stronger mechanisms in place for purchasing and allowing people to use guns.

But those strong controls for obtaining and keeping a driver's license certainly does not stop a still large number of people from driving under-age and driving under the influence.  Enforcement for repeat offenders has gone even further and requires they only drive cars that will not start before passing a breathalyzer test, but even then I have heard stories of drunks having friends or paying others to breathe for them.  Drunks drive without licenses all the time, and drunks will steal a different car or find a way to start their car while impaired.  And they will continue to go on killing people through their recklessness.

We think we should have similar mechanisms in place for gun control and can do a lot more, but it will not stop people from using guns to kill.  And if they did not have guns they would use other devices such as baseball bats, frying pans, kitchen knives, etc.  Trying to keep guns out of people's hands will not work, and certainly the lame-ass petitions we now see going around to put more guns in classrooms and teachers hands will not either!  What insanity!

We do not want to take the focus away from gun control, but accept it certainly will not work to stop a majority of the potential killing and killers out there.  There has been a string a nasty, disgusting maniacal killings this year.  The people who killed had severe mental health problems, were victims of emotional or physical abuse, felt (rightly or wrongly) that grave injustices had been committed against them, or were just unloved, hormonally imbalanced, or down-right fucking crazy.

We believe we need to love more, pray for people more and help people to identify and deal with pressure and growing mental health issues more.  Damn it, we are not some pansy-ass liberals who believes everyone is troubled and should be pardoned or excused for their behavior.  Quite the opposite, we both would support the death penalty for certain people in certain situations.

But we see so many people daily, and have recognized in ourselves over the years, the amount of stress we have been under and how our jobs, our relationships and our situations have helped us to deal better with things or to the contrary, make them worse.  But as  guys in the corporate world, we have not been allowed and certainly not encouraged to admit to any weakness or stress and if we did, were often considered incapable to perform.  What a crock.

The world has become too fast paced and too highly leveraged and things are breaking around us which breaks all of us to some degree  Some of us can deal with it, and others cannot.  We see so many on the roads and trains in the morning going to work who are clearly not happy with life, are in need of a kind word or some stronger support.  We have found in life that relationships are everything (and why we needed to get together this morning to be with each other, discuss it and ultimately get it out by writing it down).  We are all broken, some of us terribly so, but with the right relationships can be so much better at dealing with things.  Our relationship and faith in God (regardless of your religion) or even a belief in a higher order of karma or morality provides a foundation to deal with things better.  The support of our friends and co-workers is critical to our mental well-being.  And our ability to admit brokenness and seek the help of others, informally or professionally also is critical to our well being.

Sorry to say it but these killers are fucking crazy.  Through their own delusions or helped along the way by others not being there for them, they have found the need to kill, the need for revenge and nothing about gun control is going to stop them.  They will build explosives or use chemical warfare from instructions found on the Internet, or find other ways to make their point.

Yes - continue to improve gun control, and really - it should be so fucking easy!  Better screening, certifiable training and testing, and some simple ongoing enforcement is all it takes.  If we can do it for driving (or restricting driving) a car, we should be able to do it with guns.  So we say to the governments around the world, and the politicians who we vote into office, "just fucking do it!"  Fuck the NRA and fuck other lobbies who support freedom of all to own weapons. Their power and support must be eroding quickly and be close to zero.

But let's not forget to love, to be responsible and to be supportive of those we see falling off, going down a dark hole, or acting out of character in a world where maintaining good mental and emotional health continues to become harder and harder.  We all have a responsibility on a personal level to help and support others and to seek others help and support for ourselves (assuming we can see we need it and can admit to it).

I (Blake) used to say I was anti-gun and then I saw the below post:

I realized how true and rational this was and it was a double standard if I blamed guns for killing, but blamed cars for drunk drivers.  By that, I mean within the conditions we have outlined above for screening, training, and testing.  While bad spelling may not kill people, cars with drunk drivers certainly do, every bit so as much as guns do, and some of us have even eaten ourselves to death, but please do not take our spoons away!

We do not want our rights to own a frying pan and a chef's knife to be taken away because in the wrong hands they could potentially be instruments of death.  We do want reasonably good screening, training and testing for things like gun control and driving though.  But most importantly, we need to focus on achieving faith, loving each other and being there for each other, and stepping up when we think others need our help and our support.

It is not about guns as much as it is about the state of the collective population's mental health.  Crazy fucking people mass murder people and they will find multiple instruments of choice to do so.  We have already had one tragedy today, we don't want another by having people focus only on gun control and not on the other even bigger factors involved.

Mentally and emotionally healthier and more stable people in the population reduce senseless killings far more than gun control on its own ever will.  Let's deal with stress and mental health issues also.  We owe it to ourselves and our fellow members in the human race.

Blake Stevens, author of Still Stupid at Sixty
twitter: @stillstupidat60

Steve Shipley, author of SAZ in the Cellar
twitter: @shipleyaust


  1. It would be better to take this post down. But, if you're going to leave it up, a brief comment on the logic of the guns, pencils, cars, spoons poster:

    Guns are designed for shooting bullets to kill;
    Pencils are designed for writing or drawing;
    Cars are designed for driving;
    Spoons are designed for eating.

    It would be perfectly logical for a society to decide that one of these activities is antisocial and, therefore, that the implement designed for that purpose should be banned.

    1. I understand your point about the design intent of guns, pencils, cars, and spoons Philby, but my main point is about the focus on trying to improve peoples relationships and mental health. You have underscored my point about focusing on the guns. I am clearly against guns and make that point, but that is clearly not enough to stop things like this from happening. From the little we have seen so far, Adam Lanza was a very troubled individual with a tough relationship with his mother.

      I am only asking people to look at the issues here and the facts. The focus on guns will help, but not be sufficient to stop insane violence. I am just trying to bring light to the other relevant issues at play here.

      I respect your point, and would clearly take this post down if I was convinced it was hurting the arguments, but I have taken a strong anti-gun approach and I have asked people to look at the mental health and emotional issues involved.

      I do take and support your last point on guns being anti-social and designed for killing and therefore strengthening the case for stronger and more restrictive gun control, but complete banning of guns or other weapons (or non-weapons such as hammers, golf clubs, etc) that can be used for killing would only allow evil to run rampant and win. There will always be a significant number of people with an intent to kill and they will not follow complete bans anyway. Therefore, some counter balancing of that must occur. Of course, how to legislate and decide who's hands to put guns into (policemen, armed forces, air marshals, etc?) is the crux of the issue. For example, guns have been helpful to thin out the deer populations in certain areas to provide for a more humane way for them to die than starving to death, so I would advocate there there are a small set of situations where guns are used in a beneficial way, and minimally as defense against evil or some natural danger.

      Working through and legislating this is all very difficult, but again my point is that focusing only on the guns is not sufficient to avoid tragic situations like what occurred today in CT. We need to be aware of and focus on some other issues also.

    2. Philby, BTW, we did put considered thought into using (or not) the Picture on guns, pencils, cars and spoons, but decided to use it as it did depict logically a view point we have not seen clearly before. I would never use that picture on its own to make a point, but we decided to use it to try to refocus the arguments from the 'device' to the intent behind using it and how misguided that can be towards evil (intentionally or not as in the case of the drunk driving a car).

      It does run the risk that if people only look at the picture and do not read the post, they could think we are pro-gun when we are clearly anti-gun. We will discuss and may consider removing the picture if it draws too many inappropriate responses which are pro-gun.