Mental health treatment, not gun control, may be key to keeping guns out of the wrong hands

Gun rights, mental health advocates say improved treatment access and not stricter gun control measures will have a more significant impact on keeping guns out of the hands of the mentally ill.
BY ZEKE CAMPFIELD zcampfield@opubco.com Published: August 13, 2012

While privacy laws and alleged lack of political will make Oklahoma a target of national gun control advocates, local gun rights activists and those who work in the industry say more stringent rules and regulations may not be the best way to keep Oklahoma safe.

Though mental health issues seemingly played a role in all of the recent mass shooting incidents in the United States, there was another variable at play — gun-free zones, industry members said.

Miles Hall, owner of H&H Shooting Sports Complex in Oklahoma City, the state's largest gun emporium, said it's foolish to believe background checks and federal mental health record databases will keep guns out of the hands of those who intend to do harm. Even the sickest of minds can display brilliance when plotting this type of massacre, he said.

“I have to admit, that's the thing that makes me most nervous — gun-free zones,” he said.

“We have disarmed the ability of victims to put up a defense.”

According to Oklahoma statute, members of the general public are currently prohibited from carrying firearms on government property, at corrections facilities, at schools and college campuses and at sporting arenas during sporting events.

A legislative push in recent years to allow firearms on college campuses has failed, but some legislators said they haven't given up on the prospect.

Tim Gillespie, director of the Oklahoma 2nd Amendment Association, said putting more guns in the hands of residents will ensure those people can protect themselves in case of a shooting incident. It also acts as a deterrent to bad guys who don't want to get shot.

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