Mental Illness and Guns: Then and Now

By Floyd Miller | January 1, 2013

I, like a majority of the country, find myself asking questions afterthe Sandy Hook Massacre. There seems to be two trains of thought. One is that there needs to bebetter funding to take care of those with mental illness. The other thought isthat assault weapons ought to be banned. I thought about all the people I knew, while growing up, that werementally ill. As I thought about them I could not imagine any of them harminganyone. I remember their behavior and things that seemed a bit out of the”norm” , however, I just couldn’t visualize them harming anyone. As I continued to think about people that suffered from mental illness,one individual stood out. He was ones of my uncles. What makes his storyrelevant is that he owned a gun. Yes, my uncle owned a gun. I never didunderstand, for sure, what cause his illness. The grown folks said he went offto WWII and he came back different. {{more}} Let’s get back to my uncle and the guns. He lived with my grandparents.My grandpa had a 12-guage shot gun and my uncle had a 410 shotgun. The gunswere kept in a safe place but they were not locked in a case. My parents actually let me and my brother go hunting with the uncle. Myother cousins went hunting with him as well. He was a good shot. We mainlyhunted squirrels, birds and rabbits, and there was always a snake that neededto be taken care of. My uncle would play ball with is when all the other adults were tired.We respected my uncle, his parents respected him and we all loved him. All of the adults men and women, including my uncle, told us to neverpoint guns at another human. My uncle andthe community valued life. We did not have sings about brutalizing women, killing cops, etc. Wedid not market video games where people were stalked and shot with assaultweapons. Perhaps some of the mentally ill are acting out what the “sane”fantasize about. When my uncle died a few years ago, at the age of 90, all of his niecesand nephews were in attendance, with the exception of one.