Larry Flynt

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It’s Not Just Guns

As traumatic as they are, rampage shootings are now a regular occurrence in our country. Many factors have led to that reality: availability of guns, lack of mental-health treatment, abusive environments, violence in popular culture, the list goes on. There’s no specific reason and no specific solution. As President Obama eloquently stated, “No single law, no set of laws can eliminate evil from the world or prevent every senseless act of violence in our society, but that can’t be an excuse for inaction.”

I realize that gun ownership and hunting are a way of life for many Americans. I’m not trying to interfere with that. But let’s be realistic: Too many of the guns on the market are designed for war, not hunting or self-defense. And if you think you need military-grade weapons to oppose the government, you’re sorely underestimating your enemy’s firepower. You may also want to go back and reread the Second Amendment, especially the part that says gun ownership is for the purposes of a “a well-regulated militia.” But even without assault weapons, America will still be saturated with guns, and anyone who wants them will get them.

Other than the fact that rampage shooters use guns to kill, the only thing everyone agrees on is that they have mental issues that weren’t taken seriously enough. This is the key issue that we need to focus on.

When Ronald Reagan entered office in 1981, one of the first things he did was defund the Mental Health Systems Act and dismantle the National Institute of Mental Health, virtually pouring scores of mentally ill citizens onto our streets. Our society has never recovered from that huge backward step.

It is time for comprehensive mental-healthcare reform. We need to revitalize our mental-health systems and fund progressive research toward diagnosing and helping those who need it before it’s too late. It’s a huge challenge, and only the federal government has the fiscal and legislative power to meet it. If we’re serious about protecting our children and society from the deadly combination of loaded guns and mental illness, we have no other option.

Larry Flynt

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