by William Skink
The Missoulian’s editorial team is of the opinion that the new background check being pursued by City Council is wrong for Missoula. I agree. Pete Talbot vehemently disagrees, calling the opinion pitiful in the title of this post.
This rhetorical dance will keep going because the violence will keep happening. I don’t know why our society is so sick, but it is.
After each mass-casualty gun rampage, the sides line up and take their shots at each other, figurative of course. And gun sales spike.
My reasoning for purchasing a gun was not a knee-jerk reaction to the type of gun violence that statistically I’ll probably never be threatened by. Instead it’s my increasing exposure to the broken systems processing unstable people with complicated problems that often include trauma, mental illness and substance abuse.
Today the Missoulian has a story up about an 18 year old kid who pulled a gun on some pedestrians in a road rage incident. Austin Tea Miles had a semi-automatic handgun that he retrieved from his car, cocked it, and pointed it at the unnamed pedestrians.
Austin is also on probation, pre-trial supervision and going through treatment. This is what he said to Judge Andersen to try and get his $50,000 bond reduced:
“Lately, I’ve been in treatment and I’ve been applying myself in classes I find beneficial,” he said. “I’ve never missed a court date. I just got this new job. All my (urine analyses) have been clean lately for pre-trial, which is really, really difficult to do and I’ve been working really hard toward that. I’ve been putting in community service hours at Goodwill. I’m doing everything I can to keep my nose clean. I’m open to signing up for anger management classes or counseling or whatever. I would go do this today, your honor.”
As the same back and forth goes on and on about gun violence, as mass-casualty shootings keep happening at a pace that his hard to fathom, I wonder when people will start figuring out that somehow America is failing its young men?
We don’t know what kind of life Austin Miles had as a kid or how he came to need treatment by the age of 18. We also don’t know how those nameless pedestrians, who probably thought they were about to be killed, are going to process the trauma they experienced.
On a personal note, I was recently accosted by a mentally unstable individual and it sucked. Processing this kind of thing takes time because the ripples creep up on you. When you feel like you are directly threatened, that is a form of trauma, and it takes conscious work to come to terms with that sudden loss of safety and what it means to keep walking out the door into the world.
I get the desire to want to do something, anything, to mitigate risk, but this ordinance doesn’t produce a benefit that is worth the cost of further polarization and litigation.