Guns, Mental Illness, and “Autistic Shooters”

Screenshot of a now deleted Facebook page intended to scapegoat people with Autism for America's gun problem.
Screenshot of a now deleted Facebook page intended to scapegoat people with Autism for America’s gun problem.
In the wake of the mass shooting at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon, a  Facebook page was created with the title, “Families Against Autistic Shooters.”   Scapegoating people with autism for America’s gun problem is as irresponsible as blaming people with mental illness.

We can have a conversation about autism.  We can also have a conversation about mental illness.  But if we are going to have a  conversation about gun violence in American life, then we need to talk about guns.

Gun advocates like to point to anything but the problem, whether it’s misplaced blame or irrelevant statistics.  Automobile deaths are a favorite among the most vehement opponents to sensible gun legislation. But that stat is no longer at their disposal, as deaths from gun violence  (deaths- not including casualties) are poised to surpass auto mobile deaths in the U.S.  Downplaying the frquency of mass shootings is another. But there have been 994 mass shootings– 4 or more fatalities and/or casualties in 1 incident- over the last 1,004 days in the United States.  In 2011, the most recent year compiled by the CDC, there were 32,351 firearm related deaths.  It isn’t just homicides recorded by the FBI that must factor into this conversation.  We must include ALL firearm incidents that result in fatalities AND casualties.

This problem isn’t a parenting issue, or an autistic issue, or a mental health issue, or a blacks-in-Chicago-issue: this is a gun problem. The only pathology I see is the defend-the-second-amendment-at-all-cost mentality, even it means a rising body count of innocent people. The 2nd Amendment won’t be repealed.  But it needs a serious reinterpretation for the 21st century.  This isn’t 1778.  We’re not carrying around musket rifles anymore and we have a standing army (modern day militias are usually driven by hate and fear mongering). There’s no such thing as a zombie apocalypse and nobody is coming for our weapons.  The latter would be  a terrible decision anyway, as it would be a fantasy come true for gun fanatics itching to use their weapons  against the government.

It’s time we start finding solutions born out of reason and concern for the safety of the public and not driven by scapegoating, fear, paranoia, or profits from gun sales.

*Part of this post was paraphrased from the linked articles and reports found in The Atlantic, The Guardian, and form the CDC.

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