By now, we all know about the deadly shooting at YouTube headquarters in San Bruno, California. By now, most of us know the identity of the shooter. By now, most of us know a bit about her motivations. By now, most of us have heard from some NRA toadie that this isn’t about guns, but about mental health issues.
Mental Health Issues.
That term is becoming as synonymously cliched as GoodGuyWithAGun, and as demonstrably insincere an argument.
The NRA and their mouthpieces invoke MentalHealthIssues for one reason only: to get you to stop talking about guns. Neither the NRA nor their mouthpieces give a damn about mental health issues. They care about getting help for the mentally ill about as much as they care about the more than 600,000 dead by gun violence since 9/11. (Let that sink in for a second. Last year brought us the dubious milestone where we have had more people die by gun violence in America since 9/11 than have died in all of our wars combined. You’d think that kind of death toll would have an impact on people who claim to have a conscience.) What the MentalHealthIssues argument is all about is getting those of us who don’t like gun violence to feel a sense of shame. We’re supposed to be ashamed that we’re so fixated on grabbing all the guns that we don’t care about those poor people suffering in silence from MentalHealthIssues. At least, that’s what the NRA hoped would come of their strategy. But it’s not working. And Nasim Najafi Aghdam will prove that. Will anyone pay attention?
The YouTube shooting might also be clouded by two other facts that can muddy the narrative. 1. The shooting was perpetrated by a woman, which is an anomaly in the world of mass shootings, and 2. She has a Muslim-sounding name, so we may be treated to accusations of Islamic terrorism.
Early reports indicate that the shooter believed there was some conspiracy at work by YouTube that was preventing her from becoming wealthier or more famous via YouTube, and that the shooting was motivated not, as early reports indicated, by a domestic dispute (we can get into why the police were so quick to blame this on some lovers’ spat, but that’s for another time), but by a desire to get back at YouTube for stifling the shooter’s opportunites for wealth and fame.
So, how does all of this demonstrate that the NRA’s claim that mass shootings are mental health issues is a load of bullshit? In the days before the shooting Nasim Najafi Aghdam was reported missing by her family. Police discovered Nasim sleeping in her car in Mountain View, a town south of San Bruno. Here is where things get a little murky, as details are still emerging, but it appears that the police officers who found Nasim were aware that she had been reported missing, but failed to take her into custody because she was an adult and offered no indication that she was in danger, or that she posed a danger to herself or anyone else, so they let her go, but, when her family was notified that she had been found in Mountain View, her brother immediately suspected that she traveled there to “do something” to YouTube, so he notified police, but by then it was too late.
The failure of the police to recognize any MentalHealthIssues when they questioned her the day before the shooting reveals that either the police are not trained to recognize someone who is mentally ill (but in defense of the police, it’s not as if everyone with murderous intent makes those intentions known), or that people with MentalHealthIssues can suppress them long enough to fool those concerned. Again, such suppositions are presumptuous at best, but it’s that presumptuousness that indicates just how flimsy the MentalHealthIssues argument is. So, how has the NRA explained how police should be trained to recognize such potential dangers when encountering a crazy person? The answer is that they haven’t, because they can’t, because they don’t care, because the only reason they bray about MentalHealthIssues is to get us to stop talking about guns.
Also, if she was “mentally ill,” we then have to address how she was able to obtain firearms. Did she purchase them herself? Did she steal them? Did someone give them to her? Was she “mentally ill” when she obtained them, or did she become “mentally ill” after she had the weapons in her possession? These are the kinds of questions neither the NRA nor their mouthpieces will answer, because they can’t, because they don’t care, because the only reason they bray about MentalHealthIssues is to get us to stop talking about guns.
Neither the NRA nor its mouthpieces have offered any solutions on how to keep firearms out of the hands of the mentally ill, nor have they offered any details as to how they determined that all people with MentalHealthIssues possess murderous intent. They also have failed to identify how to get firearms out of the hands of people who possessed them before becoming stark raving mad. But we know why they have offered no solutions to those problems, or answers to those questions—because they don’t can’t, because they don’t care, because the only reason they bray about MentalHealthIssues is to get us to stop talking about guns.
Which brings me to this: we have to get it through our heads that the people who make these arguments have no interest in solving the problem. Their only interest is in marketing guns for the gun industry. If they can convince you that our society is bursting at the seams with armed madmen who are being told by voices to open fire in public places, then they can convince you that your only chance is to arm yourself, too. But one gun might not be enough. Buy two. Hell, buy three. Buy one for every member of your family. Buy one for your pets. Buy one for each of your pets. Buy guns, and keep buying them, because not only are those crazed lunatics prowling your streets as you read this, the government is also prowling the streets where you live, and they want to take your guns, so be sure to buy enough to hide some of them, to fool those government gun-grabbers.
I think we know where the real MentalHealthIssues can be found, and that is in the empathy-deficient souls of the NRA and their mouthpieces.
The issue is guns. Guns are the problem.