The NRA and many Republican officials always argue that we need to get a better handle on mental illness, like that’s the Holy Grail of solutions. Like it’s something we can fix, a burned-out streetlight.

This isn’t going to happen. Human beings are too complicated, and those who suggest that we can fix the problem and all will be well are being too cavalier and maybe purposely naive about this. They’re making excuses, avoiding the obvious, covering for their donors, kicking the can down the road. Wasting time and keeping the door open for the next tragic incident.

We’re never going to “fix” the mental illness problem. There aren’t enough capable people interested in doing so, and it’s not a fixable societal issue in the first place. We can make inroads, if the effort is put forth, but mental illness and emotional instability aren’t things that can be eradicated.

So, as it applies to the current attention being paid to the availability of high-powered weaponry, we do the next best thing: we make it as unlikely and as difficult as possible for anyone– stable or unstable– to get his or her hands on an AR-15-type weapon, for starters. As witnessed recently in Japan, this won’t stop everybody. But it would certainly help.  

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