If We are Divided, They will Conquer

By Gerard Valentino

A common refrain of the anti-gun crowd are repeated calls for "reasonable" gun control designed to keep guns out of the hands of criminals and the so-called mentally ill. We already know there is no such thing as "reasonable" gun control, yet the attempt of the anti-gun crowd to vilify people with mental illness is typical of their willingess to exploit just about anything to push their immoral agenda.

The anti-gunners in society will use just about anything if it gives them an advantage in the debate over gun rights. One of their favorite targets is people with a so-called mental illness and the favorite tactic of the anti-gun groups is to use people's illness as grounds for destroying their civil rights.

The problem is that very few people with mental illness are truly impaired by their medical problems. Instead, they have easily manageable symptoms which are treated with medication or basic psychotherapy. If the anti-gunners had their way, however, people who are completely sane and under control could be denied the right to carry a gun for self-defense not because they are a threat to public safety, but because they are an easy target for discrimination.

To that end the anti-gun groups claim anyone who attempts a spree killing is mentally ill or insane. Applying full blame to the coward who pulls the trigger contradicts their stated agenda that blames the gun, not the person. They use a mental illness as the reason because it is easy to argue that a mentally ill person with a gun is automatically a danger to society.

In their minds, no proof is needed before taking away the right to own a gun. If you are mentally ill, you forfeit the right to defend your life with a gun.

Denying people the right to bear arms over a minor illness is a far cry from denying convicted felons who have already proven they are a threat to public safety. There are millions of Americans, including military personnel, law enforcement officers and people in the medical profession who suffer from depression or who have acute mental problems from a traumatic incident. Taking away their right to own a gun or carry a gun for self-defense under the circumstances is unfair and decidedly un-American.

People should not be punished for a crime they haven't committed and it is even more unethical to punish people for being the victim of a traumatic incident, or who are simply sick. Mental illness is legitimately a sickness, no different than heart disease or cancer. People who are involuntarily committed to a mental hospital or who have severe mental illness are rightfully denied a right to a firearm, denying people with a treatable illness is a slippery slope that creates the potential for a serious miscarriage of justice.

Anytime the government is given the ability to infringe on someone's rights based on only the potential of a problem it will usually lead to governmental abuse. Rarely, if ever, does the government air on the side of protecting people's rights. In the post-9/11 world, the government is even more likely to trample on rights in a misguided quest for security.

No doubt, we all want to live in a safe place, yet there is a fine line between the government securing our safety and the government acting in a tyrannical manner. Taking away someone's right to defend their life is simply too important to be left up to the arbitrary nature of America's government.

Only people who are proven to be a threat to themselves or others should have their rights infringed. Once someone who is sick is cured those who would stigmatize them for being sick should simply mind their own business. The anti-gun crowd tries to use disadvantaged groups, like the mentally ill, as scapegoats in their attempts to destroy private ownership of firearms. It is a shrewd political move since it conditions Americans to accept "reasonable" gun control and subconsciously links the mentally ill with gun owners.

Hitler used a similar tactic after WWI when he made the Jews a scapegoat for Germany's problems.

Telling someone they don't deserve the right to self-defense that is afforded by the ownership of a firearm because they were once treated for depression after loss of a loved one is an immoral act. The same is true of a police officer who is treated for post traumatic stress disorder, or if someone is treated for an eating disorder.

Using the less advantaged to push the anti-gun agenda is despicable and beneath contempt. But it is as integral to the anti-gun movement as their misguided belief that the gun, not the person, is to blame for gun related crime. It is also the reason gun owners from target shooters to shotgunners to handgunners must stick together.

If the anti-gunners can divide us and get us to give up on the rights of groups we don't see as valuable they will eventually get us to agree to take the guns not used in our sport. This is an old refrain often sung by the pro-gun community designed to get shooters more involved in fighting for our rights. It is only gun owner apathy will allow the anti-gun movement, and anti-gun politicians, to win and ultimately what destroys our freedom to bear arms.

Success for the anti-gun movement begins when we can't get along, and they keep dividing us and taking away specific types of guns, like assault weapons or Saturday night specials.

Simply stated, if they succeed at that level, all is lost.

Gerard Valentino is the Buckeye Firearms Foundation Secretary/Treasurer and writes for the ValentinoChronicle.com.

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