Trouble in Mind

A neuropsychologist muses on brains, books and being happy

The Sacrosanct Second Amendment

Safety is a gun under the bed?

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The horror of the Connecticut school shooting and grief for the innocent lives lost and their families was shared in every New Zealand home. Yet we know this won’t be the last mass shooting, and although such tragedies can and do happen in every country, everyone knows the next one or the next one after that, is most likely to be in the USA. Obviously there are numerous complex reasons for this, summarised so eloquently by Nigel Barber in his Psychology Today blog post on the 23rd July. As he concludes “All we can really be sure about is that the less access there is to rapid-firing weapons, the less likely that such events are to occur and the lower the body count. But that is only common sense.”

I suspect that for the majority of people not born and raised in the USA, it is hard to avoid the conclusion that the Second Amendment—giving US citizens a RIGHT to possess a firearm, unconnected to service in the militia, and to use that firearm for traditionally “lawful” purposes, such as self-defence within the home—is crazier than any psychotic mass murderer.

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The USA is an amazing place, vibrant with multiple cultures, a generous spirit, stunning National Parks, exciting cities, and many of the best universities and minds in the world. From outside, it has plenty of faults as well, and the impression non-US citizens often have of this powerful country is that the average US school child and teenager knows nothing much about anywhere else in the world. The concern about this is that they grow up believing that their country’s way of doing things is the only way of doing things.

Does your child or teen believe that every free, democratically-run country has a Second Amendment? Do you really want your child to grow up thinking that it is their right to kill? Do you really want your child growing up believing the only way to live safely is to have a gun under the bed?

Let us hope that this latest terrible shooting spree at the very least causes more people to ban guns in their home, even if they feel powerless to change the sacrosanct second amendment. 

Jenni Ogden, Ph.D., is a clinical neuropsychologist and author of Trouble in Mind: Stories from a neuropsychologist's casebook, and the text, Fractured Minds.

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