Are We Our Own Demise? [Op-ed]

No one knows the exact time or way that they will die. This is what keeps us sane, what keeps us from thinking about the inevitability that our lives will one day end. While no one knows the specifics of our death, one thing is certain: we know that one day it will all end. We will cease to exist; our life, our soul, the thing that made us who we are will no longer inhabit the body we were born with. Not knowing this information beforehand protects our minds from the overwhelming thoughts of our demise. What if, however, we did know beforehand about the details that would take our lives? Would we be able to stop someone that was dead-set on not only ending their own life, but taking so many others along with them?

While we can never truly know in advance the way our story ends, we can predict the likelihood of an event happening because of the gun control issues we currently have in America. While “the law on selling, receiving and possessing firearms is clear . . . not every individual providing the gun in a transfer requires an FFL [Federal Firearms License], which in turn means that not every buyer is legally subject to a background check” (DW). This, of course, is dangerous because it “potentially enables guns to fall into the hands of users who might otherwise not be allowed to own a firearm.” (DW) A ten minute background check is not a sufficient measure to gauge an individual’s state of mind or the potential danger that possessing a firearm might cause.

Case in point, Ian David Long, a 28 year old “former machine gunner and decorated combat veteran of the United States Marine Corps,” (ABC7) who, on the 8th of November, walked into a country music bar in Thousand Oaks, California and opened fire, killing 12 innocent patrons before taking his own life. Shrouded in a hood and dressed all in black, Long used a smoke bomb and his .45-caliber – purchased legally – to gain entrance to the bar and dominate everyone in his path. For a motive, Long took to social media during the massacre and stated, “The fact is I had no reason to do it, and I just thought . . . life is boring so why not?” (Brown)

Someone with no mental health issues, something Long wasn’t without, doesn’t end the lives of twelve innocent people because of boredom. While the purchase of his firearm might have been legal, his state of mind was not addressed as it should have been prior to his reign of destruction. Long “appeared to have trouble adjusting to life after his deployment to Afghanistan . . . [and] was being treated for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder” (ABC7). A call last April that involved a family disturbance brought “mental health specialists [who] talked to the suspect that day and cleared him.” (ABC7) While this family incident couldn’t have predicted the forthcoming events, it was a pivotal moment that might have prevented the deaths and injuries of so many.

Gun control isn’t about taking guns away from law abiding citizens free from felonies and mental health issues. Gun control is about taking the necessary steps to check those applying for their gun license to be scrutinized a bit more in depth. If the shooter had been living in Illinois, lawmakers state that “this tragedy may have been prevented . . . thanks to a new law on the books that mandate health care providers report patients receiving mental health treatment so they are unable to get a Firearms Owner Identification, or FOID, card.” (ABC7) This would have prevented David Long from legally owning a gun in Illinois.

Perhaps this type of gun control is what is needed state-wide. It’s important for Americans to continue exercising their 2nd amendment right, and gun control shouldn’t take that away. However, with the number of mass shootings increasing every year, it’s clear that something needs to be done. Stricter gun laws, better background checks and the reporting of patients that are receiving mental health treatments need to be mandatory in all states. While none of these preventative measures can predict the actions of someone with a sick mind, perhaps they can save more lives than not.

Life is precious, but fleeting, and sometimes we forget about our own mortality; it’s what our minds are programmed to do – not to dwell about our end of life. Perhaps it’s time we started remembering that we’re not invincible. We’re not immortal. Our lives will come to an end. That’s not to say, however, that we should force ourselves to accept death at face value. Just because something will come to an end, it doesn’t mean we can’t do everything in our power to stretch it out for as long as we can.

References:

“Thousand Oaks Mass Shooting.” Eye Witness News. November 9, 2018. ABC7 .Web. November 10, 2018.

https://abc7chicago.com/thousand-oaks-shooting-13-killed-at-nightclub-including-gunman-ian-david-long/4645238/

Brown, Dalvin. “’Fact is I had no reason to do it.’” Thousand Oaks gunman posted to Instagram during massacre.” USA Today. November 10, 2018. USA Today. Web. November 10, 2018.

https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2018/11/10/thousand-oaks-shooting-gunman-posted-instagram-during-bar-massacre/1958013002/

“8 facts about gun control in the US.” DW. August 11, 2018. DW. Web. November 10, 2018.

https://m.dw.com/en/8-facts-about-gun-control-in-the-us/a-40816418

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