One of my family members suffers from a significant mental illness. It debilitates him to the point that he cannot work, even at a fast food joint, and the state agreed. He receives a small amount of money for living expenses, namely to pay rent because the state did allow him to live outside of direct monitoring. His parents kept a good eye on him, checked in regularly and felt they had a grasp on his condition and whereabouts.
About a year ago he was taken to jail. He somehow laid hold of a handgun. It made sense to him to practice, so he went into his back yard and shot off several rounds. His neighbors, just a few hundred feet away, freaked out (rightly so) and called the cops (100% justified. We’re thankful!).
Our family was shocked and scared. Everyone was thinking the same thing: How the HELL did he get a gun?
We. Don’t. Know. (He has since been put back into the care of his parents).
He lives in Hardin County, where guns are as common as dogs. Perhaps he picked it up at the lemonade stand on the corner. Or he traded an X-box for it. We really don’t know. If he did go to a legal source for firearms, we’ve got a bigger problem because this individual is legally deemed unable to function as a normal citizen of society.
So, we’re left with: where did the gun come from?
One day I was perusing the Miami County Online Rummage Sale. This is what pops into the feed:
Yes, an online garage sale. And let’s note why the interested party didn’t follow through.
Gun control is a complicated issue, not easily resolved in a single blog post, though several of us have tried. I realize that we have a population of responsible gun-owning citizens (full disclosure: we have guns in our house, in a locked safe). The majority reports to the correct authorities when they buy or sell a weapon and follow proper procedure (or what there is).
Yet the mentally ill can easily navigate their social context – or even Facebook – and find what they’re looking for. Sometimes, it even gets delivered to the newsfeed.
I know little about the last shooting. I don’t have statistics or figures about gun violence or deterrence. I don’t even have solutions. I have a mentally ill family member able to get his hands on a pistol scaring the BeJebus out of the neighborhood.
Some advocate for our right to carry, but no number of gun-carrying citizens stopped him from shooting in his back yard. Praise Jesus, because I can only imagine his response. More guns is not the answer. No guns is not an answer.
Caring for the mentally ill might be an answer. Monitoring the loose methods of buying and selling firearms might be an answer. Really, I think we have an open space of possible answers if we simply decide that the current mode of operation simply isn’t working.