Mistaking the Symptoms for the Cause

Some topics are extremely difficult to broach without giving rise to a slew of emotions from both sides on issues like abortion, religion, the Trump presidency, etc. Americans today seem more divided than ever and feelings run high. There is likely no topic where that divide is more obvious than over the issue of gun control.

Initiative 1639 was in the news when a Thurston County judge blocked it after ruling in favor of gun-rights activists who had filed suit to prevent it from appearing on the November ballot because of its wording. That ruling was overturned by the state Supreme Court, putting it back on the ballot we will be voting on this coming midterm election.

Time and space won’t allow me to detail all the proposed measures included in the initiative, but details are readily available online for those who aren’t familiar with its proposals.

While I have no problem with any of the suggested proposals, I do take exception with those who think this initiative is going to solve anything. 

I agree that semi-automatic assault rifles should not be readily available to the average citizen; I agree that there should be more stringent measures for enhanced background checks in order to weed out those who might use these weapons to harm the innocent; I agree that the minimum age for purchasing a semi-automatic rifle should be 21 and I do agree that we should at least try to implement better safekeeping of firearms so they don’t get into the hands of children or end up being sold on the black market.

What I do have an issue with, however, is that I believe we are simply treating the symptom rather than the cause of the problem.

Until we can learn to identify and get help for those who might turn violent, simply preventing them from legally purchasing firearms isn’t really solving anything at all.

The truth is, as we have seen recently from the number of killings using trucks or cars, that if someone is angry and deranged enough, he or she will find a way to kill.

Please don’t misunderstand me and think that I am suggesting we should feel sorry for and excuse murderers because they suffered abuse, felt disrespected or whatever it is that caused them to go over the edge and take the lives of the innocent. We are all responsible for the way we respond to the good as well as the adversity in our life. We simply don’t get to hurt others, especially the innocent, just because we’ve been hurt.

Until we at least acknowledge and deal with the reality that these shooters are deeply disturbed and that many of them have been bullied, dismissed, intimidated and ostracized we aren’t going to make their anger go away simply by removing their access to guns. Initiative 1639 seems a little like putting a child’s bandage on a gaping wound. It might stop some of the bleeding but it isn’t going to save a whole lot of lives.

Rob Vajko lives in Purdy.

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