Bloomberg News: Let’s say your mental landscape is similar to that of Colby Sue Weathers back in 2012: suicidal, homicidal, paranoid, schizophrenic. Oh, and with a drug and alcohol problem. You are too disabled by mental illness — schizophrenia was diagnosed in 2011 — and recurring hospitalizations to work. You are not great about maintaining your psychotropic drug regimen, which you administer inconsistently and sometimes to woozy excess. And you have an occasional hankering, occasionally satisfied, to consume a fifth of liquor. In other words, your life is utterly out of control.I’m going to go ahead and point out something I’ve pointed out before, but perhaps no for a while: that guns in the hands of violent people is the best marketing campaign for guns as self-protection in existence. If you’re a firearms manufacturer/seller and you’re not particularly inclined to give a fuck — i.e., anyone making or selling mankiller assault weapons — you want monsters prowling the streets heavily armed. Not because you’re all that interested in selling to said monsters (they are just a few people), but because you’re interested in selling to people afraid of the monsters. Gun sales skyrocket after every mass shooting, so if you’re a marketer with a somewhat Randian/Libertarian/psychotic bent, you spend a lot of time hoping for mass shootings.
One trouble you probably don’t have — provided you live in the U.S. — is gaining access to a lethal firearm. Thanks in part to the advocacy of the National Rifle Association and other gun-rights groups, and in part to the commitment of elected representatives in Congress and statehouses, you can buy a gun and kill someone, yourself included, almost entirely free of obstacles. In many cases, you can do so completely legally. Because in practice, the U.S. gun market generally does not discriminate against a wide array of pre-existing conditions, including madness.
There are no thorough background checks to determine whether you are mentally unhinged and a danger to yourself or others. No waiting periods to give the evil voices echoing inside your head time to decamp. No opportunities for family or friends or public safety officials to intervene in the firearm transaction. No meaningful commercial distinctions made between a skilled hunter eager for the approach of deer season and a dangerous psychotic with visions of blood.
Gun manufacturers and the blood lobby don’t fight common sense laws regulating gun safety because they think they won’t work, they do it because they’re afraid they will. Because if gun laws really work (and they do), then the death merchants lose their best marketing gimmick — the dangerous armed criminal If it comes to a choice between you dying or their favorite boogeyman dying, then so long you.
It’s nothing personal, mind you, it’s just the way gun sellers do business.
[photo by Patrick Feller]