Rapper, actor, reality star, and rising political strategist T.I. (pictured) has had a lot to say about the issue of gun control in recent weeks. If you recall, T.I. was arrested in October 2007 and subsequently charged with two felonies — possession of three unregistered machine guns and two silencers, plus possession of firearms by a convicted felon. Not surprisingly, G.I.
Joe T.I. isn’t a fan of restrictive gun laws. In December, during an interview with New York’s Hot 97, T.I. said this about gun control:
This is my problem with the banning of anything. What that does is, that means only the criminals will be allowed to have this particular item. Right now, there’s criminals that can’t have assault rifles or pistols but they got them and they know they can’t have them. So if they ban them, what it’s gonna be, double-illegal for me now? I’m still gon’ carry mine. So if the illegals have them, I think the legals must have them.
Well, hello, perfect example of why you’re a repeat offender.
That said, Tip repeated this rationale once more in a new interview with Larry King here:
I’ve seen people compliment T.I. for this argument, though I wonder whether anyone who co-signs such faulty logic also believes “Deacon Frye” from “Amen” (pictured below) should’ve been named a Supreme Court Justice.
Fan or not, the crux of his argument — why even bother banning something because that only gives rule breakers an advantage – is silly.
Under that sort of thinking, what’s the point in making methamphetamines illegal when “Heisenberg” is going to keep cooking meth for profit anyway? Or running red lights? Since no one is talking about taking everyone’s guns away, which would create a huge black market for firearms, what point is there to argue moot point?
Coincidentally, NRA President Wayne LaPierre employed the same logic in his rejection of universal background checks for gun charges. In his Senate testimony, LaPierre said, “And when it comes to the issue of background checks, let’s be honest: Background checks will never be ‘universal,’ because criminals will never submit to them.”
Nonetheless, T.I.’s position just goes to show how much work gun control advocates have left when it comes to educating remaining skeptics about the importance of this issue, especially as it relates to what the Second Amendment means and what constitutes a “well-regulated militia.”
To be fair, T.I. did acknowledge that when it comes to who has access to firearms, “[There] should be more criteria.”
Even so, while he might believe his gun stance is unique, he played a familiar card that other “concerned citizens” like to play when discussing “the wrong kind of people owning firearms,” i.e. the mentally ill.
I like T.I.’s “Urban Legend” album, but it’s time that he and other people stop repeating that urban legend about guns and the mentally ill.
Contrary to what’s being drilled in to our heads whenever there’s a mass murder, the mentally ill are not responsible for the gun violence plaguing this country.
As Dr. Richard Friedman explained in the New York Times:
But there is overwhelming epidemiological evidence that the vast majority of people with psychiatric disorders do not commit violent acts. Only about 4 percent of violence in the United States can be attributed to people with mental illness. This does not mean that mental illness is not a risk factor for violence. It is, but the risk is actually small. Only certain serious psychiatric illnesses are linked to an increased risk of violence.
Pete Earley, author of “CRAZY: A Father’s Search Through America’s Mental Health Madness,” wrote in a USA Today column last December:
The National Institutes of Mental Health reports that about one in four adults suffer from a diagnosable mental disorder in a given year. That’s 57.7 million people. According to a recent article published by Public Health Law Research, gun restrictions on people with a history of mental illness, such as background checks and waiting periods, had no significant effect on homicide rates. The restrictions, however, did reduce the suicide rate, suggesting that people with mental disorders, especially depression, are more likely to kill themselves than others.
According to the National Center for Health Statistics, there were 120,000 gun-related homicides, few of which were perpetuated by those suffering from mental illness.
So when it comes to this idea that it’s those “crazies” that need to be watched over for fear of them unloading their fury on to helpless victims, that mind-set needs to change.
No matter the motivation for what exactly spurs these acts of violence, ultimately it’s the weaponry that’s so easily within reach that deserves the lion’s share of the blame.
We can bemoan our problems with restriction all we’d like, but that doesn’t negate how it sometimes comes with purpose.
Michael Arceneaux is a Houston-bred, Howard-educated writer and blogger. You can read more of his work on his site, The Cynical Ones. Follow him on Twitter: @youngsinick