Our Guns, Our Madness

Dear Reader: This is from the archives, I wrote it after the massacre in Las Vegas. Unfortunately, it’s a timeless piece, and will remain so until this country gets rid of its guns.

I know madness. I have manic depression and have been hospitalized when paranoia seizes me from the shadows without warning—the belief that someone is hunting me down. The paranoia is a delusion, one rooted in prolonged childhood abuse. I can’t see the world as it is—that in reality, no one is attacking me; on the contrary, many people love me. But I’ve dropped into a place of pure terror, and can’t see the world as anything but a bloodthirsty giant that’s ready to swallow me in a yawn.

I know guns. I was raised in a gun culture. My father put a rifle in my hand when I was nine. I killed my first rabbit with it.He taught me how to carry a gun and not get hurt and not hurt others. It was all common sense, and ingrained in our Appalachian hunting world.

That was then. Because of my mental struggles, I don’t own a gun. It’s the Harmful to Self or Others rule: when a man is fighting madness, make it really hard for him to hurt himself or anybody else.

Take, say, a childhood sex abuse victim who cuts herself when the horror comes on again; she becomes suicidal. That’s easy. Take the fucking knives out of the house. Make killing herself a chore. And stay with her, for fuck’s sake don’t leave her alone, even though she’s screaming at you to burn in hell. Hold her, tell her you love her.

This is practical advice. Common sense. I’d offer it to anyone who’s suffering delusions, including our country, or at least, a huge part of its population. The part that has turned us into Massacre Nation.

The shooters who have massacred so many people in recent years, were all suffering some sort of mental illness, one in which rage, fear, and delusional thinking played out. They should definitely not have had access to guns. They’re enough reason for more gun restrictions.

But I’m talking about the crazy behind that crazy: The people who insist that, while more and more and more children bleed to death from gunshot wounds in schools, they have every right to own an arsenal, and will fight for that right, no matter how many more children are slaughtered by ill, savage men who have such easy access to weapons.

A general definition of psychological pathology is: a person with an adaptive inflexibility, with vicious cycles of maladaptive behavior, and emotional instability under stress. Those who insist on the right to own guns while the country suffers slaughter, are inflexible. They’re in constant attack mode. They fit the bill of psychotic behavior.

Why are they so vehement about gun ownership? Is some bad shit about to go down? Because, if someone’s buying an old military-deployed M16, they’re not going hunting; they’re planning for an invasion. And let’s be crystal clear, in order to come to a more precise diagnosis: Most of the people who suffer these delusions are a specific group of the White American population. They’re the majority of buyers in the big tents of all those gun shows.

They’ve said it themselves—they’re under attack. Their way of life is coming to an end as the country turns more brown. It’s based in the psychosis of a nation that created a great democracy and used slaves to build it. A lot of psychological shit boils out of that—if you benefit from that diabolical system, and start to feel like you’re losing your benefits, you might feel besieged by “the others.” You seek out someone to blame, and point out the ones who are coming after you. I know this feeling. It’s a delusion. A very dangerous one, especially in a nation flooded with weapons and steeped in fear.

We must do what my family does during one of my psychotic episodes: a lockdown. For the nation–which right now is suffering more psychosis than I’ve ever seen, we’ve got to get the guns out of the house, the entire house. It’s the Harmful to Self or Others rule: make it chore to kill. It’s that simple. And we’ve got to repeal the second amendment now. Because we’re slaughtering one another. Out of fear. Out of an American-made madness.

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6 comments

  1. Marcos, I find your personal history gives a moving and genuine credibility to your solution of gun control, which most of the nation seems to view as a dilemma – a situation seemingly incapable of a solution. i truly admire your clarity and impartial practicality – if only it all would be as easy as you make it sound – including dealing with manic depression.

  2. Dear Melissa, thanks much for your note, I appreciate that. And yes, you’re right, if it were only so easy! Later, I’ll be writing on how people with mental illness are ostracized and, as we find in these killings, blamed for our society’s woes.

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