Editor,

Can someone, anyone, please explain to me the purpose of the Second Amendment in this day in age?

I can certainly understand how, at the time of its writing, George Washington’s pleas to Congress for men and support in our effort to get out from under King George’s rule was certainly a most appropriate action ... in the late 1700s.

So, to safeguard and guarantee our citizenry’s ability to raise militias against tyrants, it was probably the wise thing to do — including this guarantee into our Constitution — at the time.

However, in 2022, when our country has an established Department of Defense, a Department of Homeland Security and an FBI (not to mention all of the other public agencies that are there to safeguard life), with their combined annual budgets of — what? — billions, if not trillions of dollars, how can it possibly be necessary to see the need for the Second Amendment’s “safeguards” in this day in age?

If the answer is: “We, the people, cannot ever be sure that this country won’t ‘turn upon us,’ and we must safeguard our right to self-defense.” Then, I gotta wonder: Why not abolish all of our “Government-provided defenses” and just return those tax dollars to the people and let them (and the markets) organize and determine how to defend our country?

But, I must speculate here: I’m not sure “the people” would do better.

And the thought of half of our 18-19 year-olds “bearing those arms” wouldn’t allow me much sleep.

John Petrovitz

South San Francisco

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(30) comments

edkahl

If the Second Amendment is such a bad idea why have the people not amended the Constitution to repeal it? Perhaps the leftist riots last year that killed 20 people, destroyed $2 billion in private, state and Federal property and occupied city centers is the reason it hasn't been repealed.

Ray Fowler

Mr. Petrovitz,

Thanks for writing this LTE. I thought likewise about the Second Amendment for most of my sixty-eight years. After seeing what has become of Mexico, a nation with strict gun laws, and the civil disorder in our nation during the summer of 2020, I am convinced our Nation's Forefathers wisdom has been validated. The Second Amendment guarantees my right to protect my loved ones and myself. Should I ever need to do so, a howitzer would not be overkill. 😉 Guns don't kill, people do. It is my belief that our nation needs to care for the mentally ill and should throw away the jailhouse key for those convicted of crimes involving firearms.

Wilfred Fernandez Jr.

Terence Y

Wilfred, my friend, thanks for making a guest appearance and for the wise words. I hope all is well with you and your family. I’m looking forward to your next appearance. Meanwhile, enjoy your Memorial Day weekend. BTW, a howitzer would be nice but I’ve always wanted a Civil War age cannon - for decorative purposes, of course.

Wilfred Fernandez Jr

Hello Terence,

You have my gratitude for the kind words. I like your idea about a Civil War cannon, for decorative purposes, of course.

I am currently in the land of living; Orlando, Florida where only people in fragile physical and mental health, and loved ones of the same wear masks. My wife, youngest daughter, four grandchildren and I are packed like sardines on buses and theme parks every day. Except when we go to packed swimming pools.

It's good to be back.

Terence Y

Wilfred, regarding a non-decorative purpose, I once met a Pennsylvania farmer who purchased a working Civil War cannon (contrary to what Uncle Joe Biden says, you can buy a cannon). His son wanted him to fire the cannon so fire it he did. BTW, is this a permanent move to the Sunshine State or just a short detour to the Most Magical Place on Earth? Either way, enjoy your family time.

Wilfred Fernandez Jr

Terence,

We are vacationing in Disney World. My wife Barbara and I purchased a time share here in 1992.

https://disneyworld.disney.go.com/resorts/old-key-west-resort/?CMP=OKC-80010387_BP_WDW_resort_disneysoldkeywestresort_NA

There was a time when I thought I could leave Alaska, but it grew on me so I cannot. The people, living with nature and weather is now in my DNA.

Elsewhere in this thread, Westy uses the A.P.A. to back his opinion that mental health is not a problem that causes mass shootings. Personally, I cannot trust an association that classified homosexuality as a mental disorder from 1952 until 1973, I have to wonder if they might not be as conflicted as the organizations promoting the man made climate change fantasy.

Tommy Tee

We should follow New Zealand, and ban assault weapons and semi-automatic weapons. They passed it 119-1. There is simply zero need for such weapons. Our problem is we have too many legislators who are beholden to gun lobby money.

Terence Y

Mr. Petrovitz, you may be on to something. I’m sure some people would agree to cancel the departments you describe, as long as you allow civilians and military contractors to have access to the same tools, hardware and software, these departments have. BTW, do we really need a Department of Defense or Homeland Security under treasonous Biden? There’s no defense or homeland security being displayed against invaders from the south. As the recent past has shown, even having the FBI can be debated. Field agents can easily be absorbed into local law enforcement.

Dirk van Ulden

Yes, John - as if the recent massacre in Texas is not a good example for citizens to protect themselves. These so-called protectors cowered in the corner and used an incredulous excuse while the kids were being shot. Had some teachers been armed, the miserable punk would likely have had second thoughts before entering the school. And, since when are the FBI and HSD on the citizen's side? Are you kidding me?

Westy

Armed teachers would not have given the shooter second thoughts. School shooters go in with the expectation that they will die. It's part of the mystic. Also, it's hard to imagine that any number of armed teachers could have stopped him before he had killed at least several children.

But, yes, by all means, let's take a moment to honor the sacrifice of our brave school children who lay down their lives to protect our right to bear arms.

Terence Y

Westy, it’s not that hard to imagine any number of armed teachers stopping him. And by all means, let’s take a moment to honor the sacrifice of our brave school children who lay down their lives so Chuck Schumer can prioritize politics over kids when he blocked a school safety bill.

Westy

I don't think your Chuck Schumer line is going to work no matter how many times you repeat it.

Terence Y

Westy, it obviously won’t work for folks who prioritize politics over school safety. The bigger question is whether you’re one of those people. And if you’re not, how do you justify Schumer’s lack of action? The school safety bill is not a partisan bill. It is a bill that benefits everyone.

Ray Fowler

Westy

I’m curious. Could you share with everyone how you acquired the information that armed teachers would not be a deterrent to an active shooter? Just so you know… schools are soft targets, and an active shooter is fully aware there will be little resistance at a school site.

It’s a little unsettling you seem to find little value to arming teachers because the Uvalde shooter would likely have killed several children before an armed teacher could have intervened. What if an armed teacher could have prevented five or six children from dying? Would that be enough? What if an armed teacher could have only saved one or two… would that be enough?

Oh, yes, I remember… you disagree with linking mental illness to gun violence. Westy, you don’t have to be a trained clinician to understand that mental illness plays a huge role in firearm related deaths. Proof? According to you, “School shooters go in with the expectation that they will die.” Does that sound like something a sane and rational person would do?

Westy

The American Psychological Association compiled analyses of studies of mass shooters. They found that there are complex reasons that people resort to gun violence, which differ for every situation. Many mass shooters do not have mental illnesses (some studies show a rate of 15 to 25% are mentally ill, but its hard to determine since its a rare event). Having a mental illness isn’t predictive of who will perpetrate a mass shooting. The factors that drive someone to commit an act of mass violence are complex, and while they sometimes may include mental illness, it has not been shown that mental illness is the primary cause of mass murder. Males commit most gun violence. One aspect to addressing it might be to develop programs that change male gender expectations of toughness, and violence. Sexy ads portraying automatic weapons as a sign of masculinity are probably not helpful. Reduced access to weapons would almost certainly help--the US rate of mass shootings is at least seven times higher than other developed nations. There are, of course, individual incidents of mass shootings in other countries, but it is simply not equivalent to the destruction we have here.

Finally, I would say that irrational is not the same as mentally ill. The vast majority of people who engage in violence are not mentally ill, and the vast majority of mentally ill people are not violent.

I believe that mental illness is trotted out every time there is a mass shooting as a red herring, and neatly distracts from examining how reducing access to weapons of war might benefit us all.

Ray Fowler

Westy

So, the American Psychological Association determined there are complex reasons why a mass shooter resorts to gun violence. Does anyone really need a PhD to figure that one out? Intuitively, we already know mental illness plays a huge role in the mass shooting tragedies we have seen this month. To sidestep the presence of mental illness in those tragedies is to ignore important measures we can take to prevent future tragedies.

“School shooters go in with the expectation that they will die.” Does that sound like something a person in good mental health would do? Consider the mass shooters who did not die. Stanford University’s School of Medicine reported that mass shooters in 28 of 35 incidents between 1982 and 2019 who were apprehended had mental health diagnoses. While intuitively we know most people who engage in violence are not mentally ill, and that the majority of mentally ill people are not violent… mass shooters are different. Mental illness does play a huge role in mass shootings.

The lack of authentic, available, and affirming mental health services has made our ability to identify and eliminate potential public safety threats extremely difficult plus it has hindered efforts to help those in need to manage mental health challenges.

Anyone advocating for programs to “change male gender expectations of toughness” as a way to prevent mass shootings, should at least cite Rep. Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and her rant blaming patriarchy and masculinity for the Uvalde mass shooting. The inclusion of mental illness in the larger discussion about mass shootings is not a red herring. However, suggesting male gender expectations and masculinity may be motives in this month’s mass shootings is absolutely an attempt to distract for political advantage.

Ray Fowler

A distraction with more sloganeering...

Westy

Oh Ray, I see from your replies that in spite of your protestations about lets not make this political, you are entirely swept up in your "intuitive" understanding of the issue. Which coincides beautifully with the long-standing political messaging of the gun lobby: Guns don't kill people, people kill people. And after every.single.mass shooting, hey let's try more mental health programs.

Jorg

Yes, indeed, Westy, - haven’t we seen how well the mental issue cup-out has worked? Is it compact stupidity, complete lack of concern for other humans, greed, or all of the above?

Ray Fowler

Westy

Hmmm… where to start?

Within hours of a mass shooting tragedy, politicization on the left will kick into high gear. The gun lobby will respond with its version of politicizing the issue with something like… a deranged gunman is not a reason to enact overreaching gun control. In response, some on the left will dismiss… as you have… the role mental illness plays in mass shooting tragedies.

Your referencing a view that mass shootings are the product of a series of complex reasons does not relegate mental health to the sidelines as a factor in mass shootings. Your belief that active shooters have a death wish is pretty convincing evidence that mental health issues… diagnosed or undiagnosed… are part of the complex reasons mass shooters do what they do. Evidence also shows that mental illness is present in the majority of shooters who are apprehended.

Neither the vocal element on the left nor the gun lobby seem to support common sense gun ownership policies. In my view, full mandatory background checks and waiting periods need to become law now. There are classifications of weaponry and ammunition that should be illegal for everyone. Make gun manufacturers incorporate gun safety technology into firearms. However, no matter how many laws are passed to reduce gun violence, without preventative mental health programs… the number of potential mass shooters will not be reduced, and some of them will find a way to acquire what they need to wreak destruction on innocent victims.

You claimed the CDC is prohibited from studying gun violence. That is not true. You claimed the US suffers less from mental illness that other countries. That is not true. You oppose arming teachers. I don’t know if the gun lobby supports arming teachers, but if they do, the gun lobby’s support for arming teachers is enough for you to say it will not work. Personally, I feel such a program would be a logistical nightmare, but if you don’t know, know it now… hardening a target like schools will have a deterrent effect. Your saying armed teachers will not discourage a shooter is, in the words of The Dude, "Yeah, well, you know, that’s just like your opinion..."

I posted three days ago… leave the sloganeering at the door. Then, yesterday, here comes more very left ackamarackus politicizing. What, you may ask? You posted support for programs to change male gender expectations in part because of “… sexy ads portraying automatic weapons as a sign of masculinity.” Wow.

Just so you know… not everyone who rejects your politicizing of this issue supports the gun lobby.

Ray Fowler

Hello, Jorg

So, discussing the mental health aspects of this issue is a cup-out [sic]?

Compact stupidity? The data suggests otherwise. What would you offer as evidence to support your "compact stupidity" assessment?

Lack of concern for other humans? So, providing mental health services to persons who have suffered trauma that may play a role in those persons acting out violently shows a "lack of concern"? How?

Finally, greed? Taxpayers would fund improvements to neglected mental health programs. In your view, who would be unjustly enriched?

Jorg

Ray: You make a lot of sense here, but it takes time to sort it all out. So why not at least a moratorium on new gun sales until a more effective solution has been found? If that had been done after Buffalo, the last Texas killer wouldn’t have been able to buy the assault rifle and ammunition he used. And if it had been done after the last mass shooting before Buffalo, - and so forth … When do we learn, and what will be the next?

Jorg

“Cup-out”: Yes, nothing short of a cheap escape from the real problem, unrestricted gun availability.

“Compact stupidity and lack of concern for others”: Mental issues have been discussed for ages, but what has been done? There is no quick solution here, and those who insist on focusing on mental health, I do call stupid and with lack of concern. It is just a delaying trick, used over and over again after each massacre, with nothing done about the real issue: unrestricted gun availability for civilians.

“Greed”. Yes, heartless greed on the part of the gun industry! Why do you twist it around to health issues? At least you should know better, Ray!

By all means, do something about mental health, - but not instead of the real issue, gun control!

Tafhdyd

Ray,

You mentioned the politicization from both parties that as soon as there is a mass killing in the news the leftist’s come out with their standard “we need gun control” verbiage and before we know the body count the righties, AKA, Mitch McConnell and the overwhelming majority of the Republicans in Congress issue their standard “now is not the time to talk gun control, now is the time for thoughts and prayers for the victims”.

You and I and many others have mentioned the cure for that problem in these comments many times. As you pointed out several times in the past few days, the cure has to start somewhere and that somewhere is basic common sense gun owner regulations. Thorough background checks, waiting periods, limits on the types of weapons, etc. If these things can be agreed upon it would be a start. The right and left will still complain but they will have to complain about something else as they point fingers at their new reasons to propose or oppose.

BTW, you know I can’t pass up an opportunity to point out the hypocrisy of the Republicans. After a mass killing along with “thoughts and prayers” another favorite is the person was mentally deranged and therefore mental healthcare is needed, not gun control. What has been one of the main mantras of the Republicans for the past decade? Do away with mental healthcare.

Ray Fowler

Hello, Jorg

You wrote... "By all means, do something about mental health, - but not instead of the real issue, gun control!" Yes... there is a lot we can do to help those with mental health issues, but I am not saying such help should be in lieu of measures designed to reduce gun violence. Background checks, waiting periods, etc, do not have to take a backseat to a real effort to improve mental health services. I think I've been pretty clear in that position.

Is there anything else from your 11:43 am or 1:08 pm posts that need a response?

Ray Fowler

Hey, Tafhdyd

I have been trying to brush aside politicizing without much success. The left's calls for gun control and the right's rejecting restrictive gun control measures following "the acts of a deranged shooter" are so tired and worn. However, the "thoughts and prayers" sentiment IMO is not a hollow politicization... and it should come from both sides.

In my view, the politicizing has tipped in favor of the left. Did you see AOC's comments blaming the patriarchy and masculinity for the Uvalde massacre while the investigation was ongoing? That sounds kinda sexist. Do you think the woke will cancel her? Or the leftist journalist who tweeted about abortions being done with AR-15s? All that looks to me to be an effort to avert a disaster five months from now at the November 8 midterms.

The mental health factor needs a lot of attention at the same time common sense gun safety policies are being put in place. It's peculiar that a de-emphasis of the role mental illness plays in mass shootings is coming from the side that claims to be the party of science.

Check my comments in this thread on 5/29 at 10:17 am, 5/31 at 7:00 am, and 5/31 at 11:19 am re: why we need to identify persons who need mental health services and why we need to help them manage their mental health condition.

Westy

You say several times we should look at the data, look at the science. The data shows there is little correlation between mental illness and mass shootings. You say that doesn't feel intuitively right to you. I challenge you to look at the data and the science. (As analyzed by actual mental health professionals rather than right wing think tanks and organizations)

Ray Fowler

Westy

You said it is inaccurate to label mental illness as the root cause of mass shootings. No one in this conversation over four days has said so. I have stated more than once, more than twice, that mental illness plays a huge roll in mass shootings.

There’s a lot of mental illness in our country. The World Health Organization concurs with that reality. Early on, you claimed the CDC was prohibited from studying gun violence. That’s not true, and the reality is that the CDC treats gun violence in our country as a national health issue.

I questioned the mental stability of mass shooters… so did Stanford University’s School of Medicine. Stanford concluded that 28 of 35 mass shooters who were apprehended had mental health diagnoses. Do the shooters from Aurora and Boulder Colorado, the El Paso Walmart, Marjorie Douglas Stoneman HS, and Buffalo NY (just two and a half weeks ago) look like happy, well-adjusted people to you? The study went on to say that the majority of mass shooters who were killed also suffered from mental health diagnoses. All this leads me to your statement, “School shooters go in with the expectation that they will die.” I have asked you if that was something a sane person would do. Your response… crickets.

You want data and science. WHO… CDC… Stanford Medicine… will they do? As far as I can tell… they are not right-wing think tanks.

You want to address male gender expectations of toughness and advertising that makes automatic weapons look sexy as causes of mass shootings. OK. Data and science, please. No left-wing think tanks.

Westy

Oh good you found one! I see your one studyof 35 mass shooters ( by Dr Ira Glick who you are mistaken in thinking is represents the views of the entire Stanford University School of Medicine and whose diagnoses were very possibly influence by the fact that the limited pool of subjects had already committed the shootings), and raise you the American Psychological Association:

"It is important to note that the overwhelming majority of people with mental illness are not violent and are far more likely to be victims of violent crime than perpetrators thereof. A vast majority of firearm violence is not attributed to mental illness. Rhetoric that argues otherwise will further stigmatize and interfere with people accessing needed treatment without addressing the root causes of firearm violence. Although there is no single cause of firearm violence, individuals can and have been emboldened to act violently by inflammatory public discourse and provocative, hateful and destructive rhetoric"

The Washington Post reports that according to research, mental illness is not to blame for America’s mass shootings. In a 2018 report of active shooters, the FBI “found that 25 percent of active shooters had been diagnosed with a mental illness. And of those diagnosed, only three shooters had been diagnosed with a psychotic disorder.” Similarly, “in a 2015 study that examined 235 people who committed or tried to commit mass killings, only 22 percent could be considered” as having a mental illness.

Ray Fowler

Westy

I don’t think you really want to play poker… you’re too easy to read… but “you’re a daisy if you do.”

Yes, I’ll play those Stanford cards… for a couple of reasons. Hmmm… I didn’t see anywhere that the study which found 28 of 35 apprehended mass shooters who had suffered a mental health diagnoses had been discredited by Stanford. And you failed to mention a couple things in your criticism of the Stanford study… no mention that the majority of shooters studied who died also suffered mental health diagnoses, and you skipped over the types of mental illnesses studied in those mass shootings. The mental conditions were the kind even a non-clinician would recognize as potentially very dangerous. N’est-ce pas?

You cite the American Psychological Association… the same APA that once classified homosexuality as a social deviation? The same APA that waited until 2013 to remove homosexual orientation from its diagnostic categories? That APA? Let’s breakdown their quoted material:

1. The majority of people with mental illness are not violent. Yes. 2. The vast majority of firearm violence cannot be attributed to mental illness. Whoa! If 60% or more of firearm related deaths annually are suicides, how can the APA eliminate mental illness as a factor? Wait… I know… they mean people shooting at other people. OK. I guess they are tossing in the thousands of annual gun deaths associated with gangs, drugs and other criminality… there are a lot more of that type of gun violence in our cities, but this LTE is talking about mass shooters who plan then carry out the slaughter of innocents. You can try but you cannot separate mental illness from the acts of mass shooters. 3. Rhetoric that argues mass shooters are mentally ill will stigmatize those needing treatment. It might if trying to get help for those in need is perceived as a witch hunt. What clinician would do that? 4. There is no single cause of firearm violence. Agreed. 5. Inflammatory public discourse can embolden individuals to commit violent acts. Congrats, APA… we’re back to politicizing the issue. The Buffalo supermarket shooter identified with leftist ideology and ridiculous racist theory, but if he’s not mentally ill, ten regular folks are still alive… ten families are not crushed.

You go on to cite the Washington Post which reports research has determined that mental illness is not to blame for America’s mass shootings. Does this research have a name? Then you mention a report published four years ago by the FBI. (Push the “pause” button… if the WAPO article was referencing the FBI report… my apologies. I read your comment to suggest two different items of research. Push “play.”) The FBI study concluded that only 25% of active shooters suffered from mental illness. Here’s the problem with the FBI report… who is better at diagnosing mental illness… the FBI or Stanford Medicine? I’m going with Stanford. However, even if only 25% of active shooters were mentally ill, wouldn’t that be enough to make improvements to our mental health services?

Ten years ago, 20 children were shot and killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Congress responded and President Obama signed into law mental health reforms… a bipartisan triumph. As mentally ill people receiving services are less violent than those who do not benefit from such assistance, the reforms following Sandy Hook were, in part, designed to get help for those who may use guns violently. That is a tall order indeed and turning the conversation away from getting such help to people with mental health conditions can produce very, very dangerous results.

Two questions… these are not rhetorical. First, do the shooters from Aurora and Boulder Colorado, the El Paso Walmart, Marjorie Douglas Stoneman HS, and Buffalo NY look like happy, well-adjusted people to you? Second query… You said, “School shooters go in with the expectation that they will die.” Does that sound like something a person in good mental health would do?

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