Armed and Ludicrous

By Bill Maher

The NRA seems to have a new take on an old stance: "Guns don't kill people. Crazy people kill people." They've gone out of their way to say America doesn't have a gun problem; it has an inadequate mental illness detection and treatment problem. In lieu of universal background checks, the NRA says we just have to do a better job of identifying the criminals and the mentally ill under the current system, which, by the way, allows a full 40% of gun sales to go unchecked through a "private sales" loophole.

So they're scared silly of Obama having "death panels," deciding who lives or dies, but they're perfectly fine with him having "sanity panels," deciding who's competent to own firearms and who's not?

First of all, when you go to a grade school and cause lead projectiles to rip through the bodies of children, isn't that, by definition, crazy? Courts agonize over determining "the mental state of the shooter." Here's a clue there might be some mental issues: he dressed up like the Joker and shot up a movie theater!

Secondly, even the very best mental health professionals cannot predict specific behavior by their disturbed patients. Are we going to create a database of every person seeking treatment for schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, depression, agoraphobia or violent fantasies and preclude them from gun ownership? I mean if people who seem obviously erratic and/or mentally unbalanced are supposed to be on some no-firearms list, shouldn't Ted Nugent's guns be the first to be confiscated?

But most importantly, America doesn't have a higher mental illness rate than any other country, the Tea Party notwithstanding. But we do have a higher murder rate than almost all countries -- four times higher than England’s and six times higher than Germany's. If the mental illness rate is a constant but our murder rate is way, way higher, and we know that murder, break-in and robbery rates have fallen sharply in places like Australia where they've instituted gun restrictions, wouldn't that lead one to believe that the true variable affecting these shootings is not how crazy we are, but how armed we are?

Or maybe, by nature, we're just six times more murderous than Germans.