Here it is, the gun debate. I put guns and abortion in the same political category for two reasons. 1) People are so entrenched on either side of each issue that compromise seems near impossible. 2) I believe a Medicare4All healthcare system would drastically lower both abortion rates and gun violence without having to fight over the changing laws on either issue. Let me explain.
There are people in our society that should not have guns.
I think we can all agree on that. To name a few:
- Stephen Paddock (Las Vegas Concert) – Killed 58
- Omar Saddiqui Mateen (Pulse Club) – Killed 49
- Sueng-Hui Cho (Virginia Tech) – Killed 32
- Adam Lanza (Sandy Hook) – Killed 27
- Devin Patrick Kelly (Sutherland Springs church) – Killed 25
- George Hennard (Killeen,Texas) – Killed 23
And, of course, the list can go on and on. El Paso, Parkland, Dayton, Aurora, etc…
A huge republican talking point is that it’s a mental health issue, not a gun issue. Yes, part of the issue is that mentally unhealthy people have full access to guns. Let’s get the guns out of their hands! How do we do that?
The only way to know if someone isn’t healthy enough to carry a weapon is to make sure every person is getting the mental health care that they need. Access to counselors, medicine and a regular doctor will not only improve the lives of so many people, but it would root out the people that shouldn’t have weapons. Otherwise, the only way we know that someone shouldn’t have a weapon is after a crime has already been committed.
It’s not just mass shooters we need to be worried about.
This goes deeper than just mass shootings. Deaths by suicide have increased in my home state among young people and the leading method used is firearms. Suicide has touched my own family multiple times throughout the years. Medicare4All would help alleviate pressure from a person in a few ways:
- No coverage loss if fired/change jobs
- No extra cost for an emergency hospital stay
- Access to counseling
- Access to medication
I believe that relieving pressure, addressing the root causes for the suicidal thoughts and removing weapons are three things that can help reduce deaths by suicide. Again, the only way we can know if someone is suffering mentally is if every person has access to the healthcare they need. The system we currently have makes it so the only way for us to know is when it’s too late.
(I have learned over the past 3 years that feeling suicidal is much more common than I once thought. If you, or someone you know, are feeling suicidal please click here to learn more about what to do.)
Medicare4All would help alleviate human suffering.
I can’t help but believe that shootings in America are directly related to the amount of undue human suffering happening in this country. Too many people experience:
- An economy that creates permanent winners/losers
- Limited access to a well paying job
- An oppressive healthcare industry
- Hard work with little pay off
- Predatory loan companies
- Predatory credit card companies
- Unfair/inadequate school system
- A ‘Keep up with the Jones’ social environment
- An explosive political climate
- Limited ability to live a dignified middle class life
- Rigged playing field
Politicians exploit these very real anxieties felt by many Americans to stoke racism, anti-immigrant sentiments and hate among us causing more violence. They portray programs designed to help every citizen as ‘evil socialism.’ They encourage people to be fearful of one another. The narrative that gun ownership is the only way to protect yourself from criminals and an oppressive government has become such an ingrained way of thinking it makes a gun debate useless.
Here in Utah I hear all the time, ‘let’s take care of our own before we take care of others coming in.’ I say let’s do it! Let’s get healthcare to all human beings in this country and get people operating at their best. Let’s relieve the pain that our people are feeling to help reduce anxiety, depression, stress, suicide, hate, racism and gun violence.
Death isn’t the only negative impact of guns.
Mass shootings make the news, but gun violence is so much more than that. There are plenty of situations that don’t end in death that aren’t good for society. People using guns irresponsibly to intimidate or invoke fear in others. You can find example after example of firearms being misused to attempt to control people’s behavior, oppress a spouse or vandalized property.
This is why healthcare for all is not the only solution to solving the gun violence epidemic. We need universal background checks and red flag laws. These basic laws, which have majority support among the public, coupled with Medicare4All would help ensure that people who shouldn’t have guns can’t access them.
We need to elect leaders that want to solve these problems instead of keeping them alive to use as political footballs for their own personal gain. People that actually view elected positions as a job that serves the public, not just themselves. We need the voting public to cast a vote in every election going forward. We’ve got to get big money out of campaigns and back rooms in Washington to get the government working for the people.
Gun violence can’t be solved with one approach. Medicare4All and gun control laws are just the beginning. We’ve got to fully fund the CDC to research the issue, repeal the Dickey amendment and the Tiahrt amendment. As we push for big institutional change, other problems will present and we must have an active electorate willing to take them on. It’s possible! We can do this 🙂