The nation’s mental health experts are hard at work trying to explain yet another mass shooting. In some cases, they have been able to find a root psychiatric cause such as bipolar disorder, but usually they confront a mystery. People with mental illnesses are more often the victims of bullying and more violent crime than they are the perpetrators. So what can we do to better understand these slaughters and the obsession on the parts of some which lead them to hold out against any meaningful gun reform.
Think about cocaine. Most people take a snort and are satisfied with the experience of having tried it. A few, however, can never get enough once they have tried it. Thousands of dollars go up their nose as they try to satisfy the intense craving for the sense of power that cocaine enthralls its users in. They ruin their lives, the lives of their family as they become more and more convinced that life is impossible without the processed powder of the coca plant.
Guns act in a similar way. Some of us fire a gun once or twice for the experience and that is enough. Others can never have enough firepower. They buy gun after gun, bullet after bullet. The idea that the government may come to take their guns away becomes an obsession: they can’t imagine life without it and they become consumed with paranoia about separation from their addiction.
For this reason, I don’t call people “gun nuts” because, frankly, that insults the overwhelming majority of us who have mental disorders who have no interest in violence. Because the addiction model fits ever so snugly, I speak of gun addicts, instead, because there is nothing so pathetic as a guy who thinks that his arsenal is going to protect him from anyone who really wants to kill him — an illusion that cost one Internet gun personality his life.
Gun addiction is expensive and dangerous — not so much to others as to one’s self. As the diagram at the end of this article shows, your average gun is more often used to kill others or kill oneself than it is to protect one’s property. In fact, guns tend to attract burglaries rather than deter them.
Most gun owners retain sane relationships with their property, but there are those — the Alex Joneses of the world — who certainly could stand an intervention. The most disturbing thing is that the same frat house ethos that eggs people on to drink also works with guns. And with the #NRA playing interference with sane and reasonable gun laws that even its members — if not its national board — support, the party goes on and on.
There needs to be a new classification in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual. 55 guns is beyond sanity. Alex Jones and others like him require some time in rehab.