A REAL Wellness Approach to Gun Control in America

Introduction

Wellness is a positive approach. Wellness traditionally focused on wellbeing and all manner of strategies, personal and cultural, for encouraging behaviors that enriched quality of life for oneself and others.

The wellness focus on becoming healthier in no way reflected a lack of regard or respect for the importance of preventing and treating illnesses, modifying risks and eliminating hazards. The proactive emphasis upon self-responsibility for one’s health and life situation, physical fitness, sound nutrition, stress management and environmental sensitivity is a lifestyle strategy that complements the health or medical system, not a substitute for quality care and actions to protect the Commons, the world beyond oneself.

Wellness in general has evolved since the 1950’s and 60’s when Halbert L. Dunn advanced (high level) wellness, as has my own work beginning in the mid-70’s to the present day. My REAL wellness model of wellness is larger in scope than what was described in High Level Wellness: An Alternative to Doctors, Drugs and Disease (Rodale Press, 1977). In recent decades, my descriptions of the wellness concept (in lectures, newsletters and a dozen new books) have emphasized reason, exuberance, athleticism (exercise and nutrition) and liberty, which I call REAL wellness.

Even with the expansion from the original five dimensions (self responsibility, fitness, nutrition, stress management and environmental responsibility) to the four dimensions of R-E-A-L wellness, the positive focus on boosting quality of life remains the core of the concept. Always, the focus has been “becoming weller.” Others can, will and are dealing with perturbations galore, from disasters, crime, war and peace and so on – although I will admit to dabbling regularly in my three favorite topics – politics, religion and sex – though not necessarily in that order.

But, the national situation in America is such that, to paraphrase a sexist phrase coined by Charles E. Weller in 1918 and used throughout the 20th century as a typing class assignment, now is the time for all good (REAL wellness-devoted) men to come to the aid of the party. The party is our country; the aid needed is to fight like hell for strict gun control. Gun control is a REAL wellness issue!

The Ghastly Stain on America’s Honor, Safety and Decency: Gun Madness

There is nothing positive about the gun mania that exists in America. There is, however, much that is grotesque, such as the wanton slaughter of innocents in schools and elsewhere. The fact that military weapons designed for battlefields are legal, available and easily obtained by just about anyone endangers everybody, particularly children, law enforcement personnel and others who assemble in public places (e.g., concerts, night clubs, schools, malls, shopping centers and streets.

The problem of gun violence cannot be solved unless Americans rise up and eliminate the underlying enablers, over time, with a five-step coordinated national campaign:

  1. Decimate the Republican Party at the ballot box.
  2. Pass all manner of stop-gap measures to at least mitigate the toll of gun madness.
  3. Institute proceedings leading to the repeal of the Second Amendment.
  4. Bring legal actions and others pressures to bear on the most dangerous organization in America, the National Rifle Association (NRA) in an effort to eliminate this cancer on society.
  5. Create a national registry of guns, that is, identify who owns what and where the guns are located. At present, the NRAs indentured servants in state and national governments have allowed no such thing.

The National Firearms Act forbids any system of registration of firearms, firearms owners, or firearms transactions or dispositions, despite the fact that there are between 8.5 million and 15 million assault rifles in circulation (based on available manufacturing data).

Of course it will seem impossible, at first, to do these things. Even if, over months and years of anti-gun citizen pressure and a strong will to pursue such measures, accomplishment of any one of these steps will require epic efforts to achieve. Consider how The Onion reported (2/28/2018) the position of Congress on gun legislation:

In the wake of the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting that left 17 dead and 14 injured, sources confirmed Wednesday that the idea of doing absolutely nothing until the next mass shooting is gaining considerable traction in Congress.

Nothing new in that.

Some aspects of American gun madness would be laughable if not so harmful – like an amendment to the Constitution introduced by an Arkansas Republican Congressman whose idea was to prevent the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to advocate or promote gun control. That little piece of NRA-sponsored mischief removed $2.6 million from the budget of the Centers earmarked for a study of the health effects of shootings.

Just the same, there are a few modest positive signs evident in the weeks since the Stoneman Douglas tragedy.

  • Young people seem energized and capable of effective lobbying.
  • A few cracks have appeared in the NRA defenses – even their $3 million-dollar man Senator Marco Rubio is willing to make a peep here, a peep there.
  • There is a modest possibility that some changes may come about, even before a House (of Representatives) clean-up of Republican offal could occur in November: a ban on the sale of assault rifles and bump stocks, a limit on the size of magazines, more thorough background checks, a raise in the age limit (21 is being recommended when in fact nobody less that 80 should be allowed to buy a gun, and then only an air rifle) and what are called red flag laws (i.e., no guns for documented mental cases).

These steps are better than Republican plans (do nothing) and the president’s NRA-backed proposal to distribute Glock 38s for classroom use by schoolteachers. The Washington Post estimates that this asinine notion would put 718,000 additional guns in our schools that, combined with teacher training, would cost taxpayers over $1 billion.

Conclusion

Each suggestion made in this essay deserves book-length details that describe strategies, complications, barriers and so on, and requires discussions and compromises and all manner of deliberations and the like. But now is truly the time when all good women and men should come to the aid of their country, and do all that can be done to fight the madness while scoffing at the inanity of any politician who dares to offer thoughts and prayers and nothing more.

Wellness is a positive approach but sometime one has to get angry in order to call attention to the negative realities of life that can render a wellness lifestyle of the highest order irrelevant.

Those who get shot or learn of others suffering from gun violence will find it difficult or impossible to enjoy peaceful living marked by quality and joy. All REAL wellness enthusiasts realize that, if life in America does not get safer, more rational and better governed, searching for the bright side will surely be less rewarding and a lot grimmer.