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Columns

Banning Guns Won’t Solve Our Problem

June 17, 2016 - 9:30am

Over the past few months America -- and now, unfortunately, Florida -- has witnessed horrific mass killings by individuals who have adopted violence as a way to advertise their allegiance to ISIS or enshrine themselves in infamy.

Yet, mainstream television stations and Democrats, by and large, have attempted to turn these tragedies into a debate about guns because they can’t help themselves waste a good tragedy to advance their favorite cause.

To wit:  Leave us all helpless and unarmed so that only criminals and terrorists will have guns, and trust me, they will get their guns.

How simple-minded these people really are.

They just don’t get it.  Quit trying to score political points and let’s talk frankly about the issue no one wants to talk about.

This isn’t about guns. When people are deliberately shot to death, it shouldn’t really be about how they’re killed; it should be about why they’re being killed.

The simple truth is, putting aside the terrorist for a moment, many of these individuals have serious mental health issues.

We need to be focusing on the root cause of our problem, which is that too many people in our society have mental health concerns that aren't being properly addressed.

Whether the person is just a little off or they make occasional threatening statements or they’re introverted loners or not taking their meds when they should, we have to figure out how to fix this.

The Florida Legislature, after two years of exhaustive groundwork, just passed two months ago pioneering legislation that will take our state in the right direction by creating a treatment framework called “No Wrong Door.”

That is, regardless of how a person becomes identified, through the criminal justice system, by referral from school guidance counselors or colleges, or a returning veteran suffering from PTSD, we now know that if we can intervene in a timely fashion with the appropriate services, we can help most of these people cope with their demons.

In reality, every county jail in Florida is that county’s largest mental health provider.

Not because they want to, but because they have to.
The same is true for our state prisons. The Florida Department of Corrections (FDC) is the single largest provider of services to felons who have mental health issues.

And the problem is growing exponentially.

To make matters worse, law enforcement officers and correctional officers aren’t trained mental health professionals. Yet the Florida Legislature again, at the behest of the Florida Sheriffs Association, has started funding Crisis Intervention Training (CIT) for select law enforcement officers.

Other funding has also been made available to FDC so that their officers can understand the nuances of how to “handle” someone with mental health problems.

Officers are now being trained to understand and appreciate that in some cases it’s better not to even touch some individuals physically because their reaction will only make the situation worse, especially for someone diagnosed within the autistic spectrum.

It could mean the difference between a “domestic” disturbance and something that turns into an unnecessarily violent one.

But training law enforcement officers obviously isn’t enough.

Each of us has to become more aware of other people’s comments on social websites like Facebook, and Facebook also has an obligation, even under free speech, to monitor probably through sophisticated algorithms, key words that could provide an advance signal of future violent acts. 

I fully understand that some people will rebel at this thought because it’s Big Brother watching us. But if we’re going to propagate a system where anyone, anytime, can say anything, then there needs to be a corresponding commitment to try to avert these inexcusable violent acts.

On the other hand, as for terrorists, we need to be ever more vigilant and we have to redouble our efforts to teach everyone that “If you see something, say something.”

In some of the killings, we’re learning there were indeed subtle telltale signs. But there was no clear pattern to them and no one agency has the unlimited resources to keep track of all of these disparate acts.

This is why I’ve been supportive of governments' Big Data haul, because the only way to know about potential future acts of domestic terrorism is to comb the World Wide Web, cellphone calls, tweets, Facebook, etc. to discern what is being contemplated.

Sure, they’re going to capture a lot of personal information that has nothing to do with terrorism; but because of the volume of data, the only way to find the proverbial “needle in a haystack” is to go through the entire haystack.

What protects our privacy is that the data haul is so huge, government only has the time and resources to look for signs of violent actions.

Our government has the tools to accomplish this, but once it became known, privacy activists howled until it was shut down.

We can’t afford to let personal rights, in my opinion, trump national security concerns.

The ultimate threat isn’t from an ISIS-lover using an AK-47 to massacre innocent people; it’s from a terrorist building homemade bombs, or dirty bombs, or a tactical nuclear bomb, or putting poisons into our water supply.

So we can ban the guns as the lefties want. But don’t believe for a second this will stop the killings.

Criminals, terrorists, mentally ill people will still have too many ways to get their hands on a gun.

And if they can’t get a gun, if they’re committed and so many of them unfortunately are, they’ll simply turn to other destructive methods just like the Oklahoma City bomber, the Unabomber or the Boston Marathon bomber did.

Appropriate mental health treatment, a vigilant society, a government that can collect massive data to identify targets -- those things represent our best hope, perhaps our only hope.

Barney Bishop III is a serial entrepreneur, a conservative Democrat who believes that the cornerstone of our democracy and our freedom is a strong and vibrant private enterprise system. He can be reached at Barney@BarneyBishop.com

Comments

If you don't have a gun, buy one - for personal protection.......no one else is going to protect you and/or your family. And stay away from "Gun Free Zones" - only law abiding citizens abide.....go figure!

Attempting to sieze weapons in the hans od the citizens will be the beginning of a far larger problem. There can be a case made to preclude comeone on the no-fly list from buying a weapon - by the way, as the facts have shown, that would have done nothing to stop San Benadino and Orlando - however, the Constitution guarantees due process and that must be codified in any law. That for me means, someone precluded is entitlted to a jury trial to determine their presence on the list. FBI Director Comey has already stated, denying on the basis of presence on the No-Fly list gives a heads up to a subject under investigation and may do more harm than good. By the way, all those posts by the same Liberal shill above want you to believe that an assualt weapons ban is possible...how laughable. Democrats do not care in the end, they only see this as a golden opportunity to use the death of 49 Americans to advantage them in the elections.

Now Barno is claiming to be an expert on terrorism.........................a guy who never served in the military or the intelligence community and who has never been involved in the fight against terrorists is now trying to tell us that terrorists are what they are because of mental problems!!!! What a joke!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Yes, as Mark says above, the author is definitely a "fraud" and claims to be an "expert on everything" when actually he is an expert on nothing. Sounds like the author is somewhat mental.

We need to use all the tools in the tool box, Barney. I applaud the work on mental health reform. But gun control reform is also a cog in reducing this horrific violence. There is no single answer. But, we don't need tweaking of gun laws off the table. Assault rifles need not be available to private citizens, those on no fly lists & being watched as possible terrorists also need to be clamped down on. These moves won't stop citizens from having access to firearms for the protection of self and family. But, it will serve as deterrent to those trying to get their hands on such weapons as easily as they can now.

Gee . . . . using that Democrat tag in your byline again (i.e. must be getting close to a major election) . . . . . . let's see, when was the last time you voted for a Democratic Presidential candidate . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . oh, that's right (far right), sometime last century . . . . . . . . . . . .

Sorry Barney Rubble, just because old lady Smith allows your crap to appear here just don't make it right! In fact, over the years, you've been mostly wrong, with your crooked politics and all the baggage you hauled in for yourself! We need common sense gun control! NOT elimination of guns, but no one 'needs' assault weapons except for cops and the military! At least Trump is willing to sit with the mindless and uncaring NRA to discuss and exchange ideas. Hopefully, something good will originate which would be lots more than YOU ever was able to complete!

I don't know how to prevent terrorist's acts of violence or protect our citizens from this kind of horror. I do know that laws don't change hearts or behavior. Murder is illegal and yet people murder. Poisoning people or animals is illegal and still it happens. Using or selling meth or crack cocaine is illegal and yet people still get it and die from it. The gun laws enacted in the past haven't stopped gun violence not even with the specified weapons. Timothy mcveigh (spelling?) killed people with fertilizer and a van. There was no immediate call for limiting van rentals. Above it was said that the founding fathers never had assault weapons in mind and that Scalia said everything can be tweaked. I agree with both but if itwasnt meant then and things can be tweaked, the. Can't it mean that now. I pray for the victims and familes of the Orlando killing. I pray for peace in our land. I pray for a country who has lost its way and politicizes the violent slaughter of its citizens. Changing hearts and minds, not laws is the only answer

Listen, what I am having trouble understanding is this: Over the past 100 years, from 1916 - 2015 this is how control of our government has shaken out. (Full control of Congress and the White House at the SAME TIME): Dems: 35 years Reps: 16 years Neither: 49 years In fact, during President Obama's first term, the Dems controlled it all. The thing is, some of the rural seats were being threatened by the TEA Party. Putting it simply, they didn't have the stomach for that fight. It simply wasn't a priority. Self-preservation took priority. It really came down to Seats vs. Lives (assuming you believe legislation will save lives....which, I believe common sense suggests it will not.) Furthermore, so that you don't think I've got blinders on....the Reps are guilty of the same thing. They have had total control a few times as well and did not advance ANY of their "core" issues. Pick a subject...from the pro-life position to many others - both parties get in there and kinda......well, kinda keep things in the center. I've enjoyed reading the opinions of others and respect the passion and pain that is behind this debate. I hope my comments do not offend anyone personally. I'm proud to live in a country where this free exchange and debate can take place. End of day: What occurred in Orlando is intolerable. I think we all yearn for a world without this kind of evil. Submitted respectfully, Tom Derzypolski (small business owner / registered Republican / U.S. Navy Veteran / father of small children)

Obama and the Dems didn't exactly have full control of the Senate in his first term. Thanks to the Gingrich led inauguration day meeting in the Caucus Room restaurant the Republicans stood en masse in a solid block to stop anything and everything Obama wanted to do. It would therefore take 60 votes in the Senate to overcome Republican filibusters on every piece of legislation. Obama had 60 Senators counting the Independent Senators but one of them was Ted Kennedy who was getting treatment for brain cancer in Massachusetts leaving the Dems with 59 votes for most legislation, one short of what they'd need to break filibusters. The Dems made a big deal out of dragging Kennedy down to Washington to cast the 60th vote to break the filibuster on Obamacare but there wasn't much legislation that could have been accomplished in those 7 months while Kennedy was alive in Obama's first term because Obamacare took all their time and effort.

Obama and the Dems didn't exactly have full control of the Senate in his first term. Thanks to the Gingrich led inauguration day meeting in the Caucus Room restaurant the Republicans stood en masse in a solid block to stop anything and everything Obama wanted to do. It would therefore take 60 votes in the Senate to overcome Republican filibusters on every piece of legislation. Obama had 60 Senators counting the Independent Senators but one of them was Ted Kennedy who was getting treatment for brain cancer in Massachusetts leaving the Dems with 59 votes for most legislation, one short of what they'd need to break filibusters. The Dems made a big deal out of dragging Kennedy down to Washington to cast the 60th vote to break the filibuster on Obamacare but there wasn't much legislation that could have been accomplished in those 7 months while Kennedy was alive in Obama's first term because Obamacare took all their time and effort.

As usual it is the all or nothing nonsense we don't want to ban guns just have reasonable regulation but 3000 kids are killed or injured each year because any fool can buy one The money grubbing manufacturers are killing reasonable legislation and using the 2nd amendment originally set up to protect against the British using muskets

By saying "a government that can collect massive data to identify targets -- those things represent our best hope" you are willing to blithely toss away Americans Fourth Amendment rights: "[t]he right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation". Allowing the government to hack our laptops, monitor our phone calls and track our movements by GPS is fine with you but discussion of the possibility of a law that would prevent an escapee from a facility for the criminally insane from going down to a Florida gun show and buying a Bushmaster from a private dealer without any background check is a discussion we should not have because the Second Amendment is sacrosanct, right? I haven't heard any left wing politician who wants to "ban the guns" as you say. There are a few far left people who have advocated doing what Australia did but no one listens to them except you. They are outliers on the left wing fringe. What is needed is common sense gun laws. No one holding a concealed carry permit in Florida should be prosecuted because their shirt rolled up and the gun became visible in public but it happens. No one on the suspected terrorist no-fly list should be able to freely buy an AK-47 without at least red flags coming up and a serious background check to determine why the person is on the no-fly list but it happens. Those are things that can be corrected with reasonable firearms laws. Would you advocate repeal of the National Firearms Act of 1934 that severely regulated automatic weapons? That law was a direct result of gangster criminal activity with machine guns, sawed off shotguns and short barrel rifles. If you were writing in 1934 would you have lobbied against that law because the criminals were going to get their guns anyway? How about the Gun Control Act of 1968 passed after the assainations of Martin Luther King Jr. and Bobby Kennedy? Why would the government need to prohibit anyone, even felons and lunatics, from mail ordering a cheap handgun from an advertisement in the back of a comic book right next to the xray specs ad? After all, the felons and lunatics were going to get their guns anyway. Common sense is the key. We certainly need a look at our gun laws from a common sense perspective. The people who advocate no restrictions on guns are just as crazy, out on the fringe, people as those who want to ban all guns.

Let's get this straight once and for all. No one is suggesting to ban guns entirely - just limiting (to some reasonable degree) weapons that were designed solely for the purpose of the battlefield. The question is simply to determine which guns SHOULD be allowed on public streets (the same streets as strollers, children playing at a playground, grandparents going to church, you and I going out dinner...). Your argument overlooks one fundamental point: VIOLENCE IS A CHOICE. Unlike other animal species, homo sapiens have evolved a well-developed brain to make rational, conscious decisions. We have the capacity (among all living creatures in the UNIVERSE that we know about so far) to create ANY future through committed action. The real question is, do homo sapiens want to sustain a violent society or a peaceful one? If the latter, then identifying reasons why people become violent in the first place and correcting them through better education and economic opportunities is the game. This will cost money, public money. For me, I would much rather spend money on doing whatever it takes to create a peaceful society. That does not make me a socialist at all. It makes me a compassionate, human being who actually believes that the American Way is possible for ALL people, not just certain white people who were born speaking English. After all, isn't that why we fought in WWI and WWII, the Viet Nam and Korean Wars, the Gulf War, on and on and on and on???? How many have died in the name of the lie that America means "justice for all"? However, if a violent society is what you are after, then fine. Let's just keep building up everyone's arsenals in the name of self-defense and "freedom" and hope that the benevolence of whatever force you pray to keeps you, your children, your spouse, and your friends from becoming the next ones picked off by one of these necessary and lethal "foundations of democracy." I wonder what you will say then? Probably that your family is worth becoming martyrs for the CAUSE. This is where all of your arguments return to - like a boomerang, having no choice but to follow the laws of acceleration and gravity.

You are lying again bishop. Dems never said they want to take guns from those who need them, just common sense regulations. Yet you want terrorist like orlando to freely buy guns shows how bankrupt you, your kind is. They should be regulated at least as well as cars, a $50 tax/yr on each should cut the numbers of loose guns nicely while letting those who need them have them. And anyone owning a gun is responsible for anything that happens if stolen, etc. We lose 10k lives a yr to guns, mostly the family gun, killing someone in the family. I'm sorry but I'm far more in danger by fools owning guns than I am from terrorists, criminals.

While I an a great fan of Mr. Bishop, I think he is seriously wrong on this matter. Our personal liberty is not at all in jeopardy by registering guns and even more so by banning the purchase of military assault weapons and even more so preventing their purchase by those under investigation for violence and terrorism. The Founding Fathers, with their single-load muskets, never envisioned assault weapons being used to murder American children, coworkers and innocent strangers. I think Mr. Bishop is on the wrong side of history on this and would encourage him to rethink his position. We somehow were able to maintain our Second Amendment rights when we had previous bans and before we had automatic guns able to mow down our innocent citizens. This is not what the writers of the Bill of Rights remotely had in mind and it is really important for this nation to remember that. Even as Justice Scalia wrote and said that all provisions of the Constitution, even Amendment 2, are no absolute and are subject to restrictions. Let's protect the Second Amendment while enacting responsible restrictions needed to protect us.

He's more wrong than ever correct, but certainly way to the right! GO TRUMP!!

Check with Generals Petraeus and McChrystal - and Capt Mark Kelly - on gun control, See "Stars and Stripes".

Very well written and thought provoking--thank you for penning a powerful piece. Well done!

Nanette, it's good that folks like you are able to read to "provoke" and thoughts you might have. Bottom line is, the author is a fraud, in my opinion, and always attempts to capitalize on someone else's grief!

Comments are now closed.

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