Paranoia and Gun Ownership:
The Real Mental Health Issue
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by Jon Burras
           There is nothing new to the fact that as of late there have been a rash of mass shootings in the United States. From movie theaters to backyard barbecues, grade schools to private homes, we are under attack by a dark and obscure force. We all feel the pain of a mass casualty event, whether you were actually present or just a witness from afar being fed constant media reports.
            We can all agree that these assaults on innocent lives are a horrible stain on our country and most people would like to rise up to action and do something about the problem. Herein lies the dilemma—"What is the problem and what is the solution?"
            Staunch gun advocates have proposed two main solutions that look like this:
            1. Identify every potentially "crazy" person and lock them up and by no means ever let them close to a firearm. Mental health treatment and pharmaceutical drugs should identify and contain most of the potential threats. This way we could monitor our enemies and keep them out in the open where we can see them.
            Finding out who all of these potentially crazy people are would be another task at hand. Does listing "depression" as part of your medical back ground qualify you as mentally unstable? Often serial killers look and act just like the good old boy from down the street as they act as chameleons and try to fit into their surroundings. How do you flush these people out of hiding?
            2. Arm everyone. Private citizens should be allowed to carry concealed or even non-concealed weapons in every state wherever they go whenever they want to. A gun should be like a pursue or cell phone. You should have the right to take one with you at all times without question. Put guns in the hands of all teachers and principles, security cops in malls, pop corn vendors at baseball games and even sixteen-year-old lifeguards patrolling at the beach.
            This sounds like a reasonable request. We would all have our hands on our trigger finger of our side arms waiting for the next attack or outburst. We would be a deterrent to crime because the criminal would know that we are all "packing heat." Normal cities would look like "Wild West " towns where you would be afraid to look crossed-eyed at someone for fear of having your head blown off. Self-defense arguments would skyrocket as endearing neighbors would soon turn into the "Hatfields and McCoys" over one's dog doing his business on the other side of the dividing line in the neighbor's yard.
            This dualistic approach makes sense to many gun owners—give us as many guns as we want and identify and treat all the potentially crazy people. According to this way of thinking, there should be no limit to how many guns a person could own nor the firepower or number of bullets that it could fire. A gun should be unregulated and it should be as easy to acquire as buying a new bicycle.
            Then there is another side of this debate. Why do we have guns at all? Wouldn't it be safer if we did what most other countries do and eliminate the privilege of gun ownership for private citizens. The real issue is this. Yes, we have a mental health issue in this country. The mental health issue could be defined as Paranoia. People are paranoid, especially gun owners.
            One way to look at things is that being a gun owner by and large is a mental health condition called "paranoia." This is why we find it hard to talk about this topic. Gun owners do not see themselves as being sick with paranoia. But if any state or federal agency begins to create legislation to eliminate or ban certain weapons, watch the many gun owners go off the deep end. A recent congressional inquiry into banning assault weapons only led to a flurry of people rushing out to gun shows to purchase their stash of weapons just in case these weapons were banned for sale. If you want to see mental illness up close then go to a gun show and watch panicked and paranoid gun owners stocking up for the next Apocalypse.
            Paranoia runs deep within the gun-toting community. This is the sickness. This is the disease. Any mention of the elimination of the Second Amendment will send shock waves down the spine of gun owners. A paranoid person always has a list of people who he believes are out to get him or who are going to attack him. This list includes but is not limit to:
· The Russians
· The Chinese
· The aliens
· Terrorists
· Burglars
· Muggers
· Crooked police officers
· The United States Government
· The British (wanting their colonies back)
· Drug dealers
· Home invasion robbers
· A stalker
· A crazed ex-husband
            And the list goes on. (You might as well throw in Big Foot, The Lockness Monster and ghosts). A paranoid person is a mentally ill and unstable person. Most gun owners fit right into this criteria. They always feel if someone were out to get them. They have to watch their own backs. They cannot trust law enforcement or authority figures. And while it is true that each of these afore mentioned "enemies" could attack you, the chances are very remote. You are much more likely to die in a car crash from a drunk driver than being shot by a Russian invading your country. You are much more likely to be shot by someone you know (like a spouse, neighbor or co-worker) than by a burglar.
            A paranoid gun owner will rant that if you eliminate all of the guns then only the "criminals" will have guns. Add another potential enemy to the list (criminal); that is why they call it "paranoia." Paranoia continues to run rampant across the land. How could you even begin to solve the problem of mass shootings nationwide when most of the gun owning community refuse to admit to a mental illness condition called paranoia? Gun owners will tell you that it is those other "psychos" "out there" somewhere who are the real problem. Unfortunately, the real problem is millions of people who are filled with mistrust and looking for enemies "out there."
            It is certainly true that non-gun owners themselves might suffer from this same mental delusion called paranoia; they just have not taken the extreme steps to purchase guns as a way to feel like they are in control of their reality. Non-gun owners most likely have other means of feeling like they are in control.
            We can all agree that we have a problem. Properly identifying the problem will help guide us to the appropriate solution. Nationwide bans on assault weapons and background checks will not stop paranoia. The only way this problem can be resolved is to do what other countries have done and eliminate the right of private citizens to own guns. Why is it so difficult for us to let go of our pride and learn from others? Coming to terms with mass shootings means acknowledging the deep seated paranoia that resides in this country. That is the root of the problem. The problem is not "out there" as some would suggest but our own internal mistrust issues.
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