by Michael Maiello

After the Dark Night Returns massacre in Colorado, followed by the elementary school shooting spree in Connecticut, the National Rifle Association remained adamant that background checks of gun buyers at gun shows and other private firearms sales, would do no good in stopping spree shooters, who generally do no have violent criminal records before acting out.

“We have a broken mental health system that is not going to be fixed with more background checks at gun shows. The sad truth is that no background check would have prevented the tragedies in Newtown, Aurora or Tucson,” said the organization in a recent statement.

To that end, the NRA has recently teamed with the American Psychiatric Association to develop a series of personality tests that measure an individual’s capacity for empathy, self control, anger management and control of depression, anxiety and paranoia, to be taken annually by all Americans aged 15 or older.

Test results will be evaluated by a public-private partnership between the Department of Health & Human Services and the AMA.  Americans identified as “high risk,” according to the tests would be banned from owning firearms and required to seek psychological counseling.  For those who cannot afford such mental health care, the government will provide social workers.  In more serious cases, people might be institutionalized, but not without a consensus of mental health professionals.  Also, there will be an appeals process at every step of the evaluation.

“This is a rational solution for a freedom loving people,” said NRA President David Keene.  “We all agree that psychologically damaged or criminally insane people should not have access to firearms but that healthy Americans like you and me should not have our Constitutional rights abridged by an out of control government bureaucracy.”

Finally, the NRA has a point that we can all get behind.  No assault weapons ban, however far reaching, will prevent spree killings because there are too many assault weapons already available and because spree shooters can easily choose other weapons.  Banning all guns is a nonstarter without a Constitutional amendment and, again, what about the existing supply?  Criminal background checks, as the NRA has noted, will not stop those who have not yet committed their first crime.

The only logical answer is that future potential criminals must be identified, evaluated and, if necessary, treated.  We now have achieved the necessary knowledge and skills to pursue a crime free utopia of the kind described by Anthony Burgess in his 1962 novel A Clockwork Orange, which had been immortalized into a delightful futuristic comedy a decade later by the great film director Woody Allen.

In the not too distant future, it could be possible, as imagined by that delightful optimist Phillip K. Dick, that the government will be able to use situational data and discreet monitoring, as well as genetically enhanced psychics, to predict future criminal behavior with a greater degree of accuracy.  Dick described this in his short story, Minority Report, also later made into a film by Woody Allen, who had grown decidedly darker and more serious in his outlook by 2002.

With its bold proposal today, the NRA joins the great utopian dreamers (Burgess, Dick, George Orwell, Aldous Huxley, David Foster Wallace, and Maureen Dowd) who see a better future for America, where the rights of those who intend no harm are preserved without compromising public safety and welfare.