As a reminder who is calling the shots in the gun debate, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie vetoed a bill that would have limited the capacity of ammunition magazines. While this would admittedly have only been a small step in the right direction toward decreasing gun violence, it would have indisputably been a step in the right direction.
Further, Christie refused to meet with two parents supporting the bill who lost children at Sandy Hook, nor would he accept their petition with 55,000 signatures encouraging him to sign the bill. He instead repeated the gun lobby talking points that direct attention away from guns and on to mental health. While mental health care can certainly use reform, scapegoating mental illness merely shifts blame away from the firearms that enable violence and does little to address the actual problem. Studies have shown that mental illness is not an indicator of violent behavior. Rather, the best indicator of violent behavior is a history of violent behavior. And, limiting magazine size has been shown to limit fatalities in mass shooting situations. But, like many other Republicans, Christie has proven that he cares more about the lobbyists that might pay him than the constituents who actually live in his state.
And what is the result of all that lobbying, refusing to legislate guns and spewing rhetoric that encourages revolution or uprising against the government?
While it is easy to dismiss this person as mentally unstable, the truth is he would be harmless without his unfettered access to firearms. Buried further down in the article is this:
Greer had prior arrests for firearms possession and reckless driving, as well as for an altercation with an officer.
Again, more than mental illness, previous violent behavior is the best indicator of the potential for future violent behavior. And, like many gun owners on the fringes, Greer seemed to have fantasies of “combat.” This is a direct result of the way gun lobbyists talk about guns and gun owners. While most rational gun owners are able to dismiss this sort of talk as hyperbole or propaganda, some people seem to actually think that a revolution is coming, and that they are combatants in this imaginary fight. Luckily, this particular fantasy was stopped before any innocent lives were lost. But, we have not always been so lucky, and we won’t continue to be so lucky unless something is done to keep guns out of the hands of people who should not have them.