July 4 attack in Illinois: Gun control laws fail to uphold supporters' promises
We hear it every time another mentally-ill person commits mass murder:
If we want to stop these kinds of things, we need a red flag law.
If we want to stop these kinds of things, we need to limit people under 21 from obtaining firearms.
If we want to stop these kinds of things, we need to require firearms licensing.
If we want to stop these kinds of things, we need universal background checks.
These things, they say, will stop the next mass killing. It's just "common sense," they say.
So what happens when they don't?
When they don't, intellectually honest people should be forced to ask themselves some hard questions. Like the questions being asked in Illinois this month, where a 22 year-old man* began shooting at parade-watchers from a rooftop position despite EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THESE LAWS ALREADY BEING IN EFFECT THERE.
We now know that the Illinois killer had thrown up many red flags. He threatened to kill his family on at least two occasions in 2019, when police removed 16 knives, a dagger and a sword from his home, identifying him as a "clear and present danger."
Three months after the knives were confiscated, and despite concerns about his mental health (he had a history of multiple suicide attempts), his father sponsored the 19 year-old's application for an Illinois firearm-owner’s identification card, a licensing scheme which requires most applicants to be 21 or older and to undergo a mandatory background check.
From the New York Post:
Illinois has a “red-flag” law — the Firearms Restraining Order Act enacted in 2019 — which allows family members to apply for a court order so that authorities can confiscate weapons from those deemed to be dangerous.
But despite the law being in place for two years, officials said it is rarely utilized.
Gun control laws fail because they are focused on the TOOL instead of on the CRIMINAL. Illinois gives us still more proof that this fact won't change, no how many new gun control laws they pass to try and stop these terrible incidents from occurring.
For many years the media have worked hard to tamp down any discussion of the mental health component of these incidents. But recent study published in the American Psychological Association's Journal of Threat Assessment and Management asked the question "Has the role of mental health problems in mass shootings been significantly underestimated?" and found that "the role of mental illness in mass shootings is sometimes underestimated, due to a range of public health concerns and methodological nuances."
This study closely analyzed public mass shooters who attacked in the United States from 1966 to 2019. The study authors wrote that "further evidence suggests that almost all public mass shooters may have mental health problems, but that social stigmas, which reduce the likelihood that perpetrators will seek psychological treatment, may help explain popular underestimates." (emphasis added)
And yet instead of seeking to address the real issues at play, we are told by anti-gun rights media and politicians after each and every attack that the fault lies with those who uphold the Second Amendment to the Constitution of the United States.
We are told that new gun control laws are the only way to end the killing, even if the laws being proposed for the nation were already in place in the state where the attack occurred, or if the law being proposed would have done nothing to stop the attack being used to promote the agenda.
Until and unless our society decides to address the real problems behind these attacks instead of using them to score political points, we will not see any progress in the prevention of such violence.
I will conclude with a final observation from the Journal of Threat Assessment and Management study:
The most lethal perpetrators exhibited signs of mental illness or suicidal intent (or both) in all cases. When people engage in concerning behaviors that suggest a mass shooting risk, their mental health should be carefully assessed alongside other warning signs. However, it is important to avoid treating people with mental illness like criminals, because social stigma reduces the likelihood that they will ask for, and receive, the psychological help they need.
Chad D. Baus served as Buckeye Firearms Association Secretary from 2013-2019, and continues to serve on the Board of Directors. He is co-founder of BFA-PAC, and served as its Vice Chairman for 15 years. He is the editor of BuckeyeFirearms.org, which received the Outdoor Writers of Ohio 2013 Supporting Member Award for Best Website, and is also an NRA-certified firearms instructor.