Red flags are “the chicken or the egg” question. The answer: not Betsy Ross.

The adage “red sky at night, sailors delight; red sky in the morning, sailors take warning” came from Jesus instructing his disciples (Matt. 16:2-3). Red always indicates a hot topic and Jesus wanted his people to be aware “of the times” (King James Version). So do we.

There have been so many issues blasting our country and most probably deserved red flags. Not all got noticed though. Most recently the issue of high-powered weapons versus gun control in view of mass killings has stunned everyone. That’s not merely sad. That’s barbarous.

What’s needed to stop this epidemic is something else. The fallback answer has been to attach a “red flag” to anyone with previous mental issues or who seems likely to commit mass murder and then run background checks. Problem is, that answer is backward.

Unstable persons need to be identified before they spin out of control and commit certifiably crazy deeds like murder. That’s not a suitably PC definition, of course, but there is no Constitutional right for any crazy person to walk around shooting people. Period.

Even the mother of the El Paso murderer who contacted the local police about her son was rebuffed. Despite the mom’s plea that he didn’t know anything about guns, police were helpless. So was she, apparently.

If a caring parent or family member can’t wave enough danger flags, then who can? Society is in one mell of a hess anyway, without tying people’s hands as they tiptoe around psychotic folks holding a gun.

I know lots of handgun owners and big gun owners. Texas is the proving grounds for people who love to hunt or just shoot at targets. This topic isn’t meant to make you angry; personally I don’t want to take your guns away. But we all do need to have this conversation, then calmly and reasonably reach a consensus, whatever one’s party affiliation or group membership.

Un problema — first, who decides how off the charts is “crazy enough” to deny someone possession of a firearm? That smells like a lawsuit to me. Secondly, does denial of access to assault-style weapons shatter anyone’s Second Amendment rights to all guns? Thirdly, who needs such a heavy duty weapons to protect their home? A drug dealer is the only someone that comes to my mind.

Wouldn’t it just be easier just to stop selling “AR” machines and those mega-bullet magazines? Why let small children, students, partygoers and shoppers get killed going about their regular life, when there are plenty of bad dudes waging war around the world?

Stopping the sale of high velocity weapons would avoid the government intruding further into everyone’s business by certifying who’s crazy or not. Keeping lists of who and where someone is at any given point in time aren’t tasks that our governmental bodies do particularly well. The parole system doesn’t always keep up with released convicts either.

Walmart is stepping up to do what partisan politics shrinks from considering. The mega-retailer has already begun taking assault-style weapons off their shelves. Slowly, maybe more kids can grow up and enjoy life, liberty and the chance to pursue happiness without dodging bullets at school. This mayhem has produced a generation of shell-shocked kids with PTSD. That’s shameful.

But not everyone agrees with either solution. Gov. Greg Abbott passed eight bills during the past session of the Legislature but most seem to be paperwork reports, and he is still reluctant to take any proactive steps for Texans.

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick did this week, however. He’s a staunch NRA member and finally stuck a toe in the water concerning background checks among the personal gun sales between stranger-to-stranger. It’s a start.

Everyone who doesn’t want any kind of background checks points the finger of blame at mental health issues, yet there aren’t enough governmental funds to go around as it is. The naysayers think that unless the NRA approves, mass gun registration will occur but that’s not what the 60-70% majority of the country think. The polls I’ve read on the issue indicate solid support of the Second Amendment on the right to bear and own arms. They believe if common citizens can’t own or carry, then only the bad guys will own them.

What those polled are saying is just prohibit the sale of AR-15 and AK-47 weapons across the counter. Easy peasey. Someone will figure out sooner or later if the would-be purchaser is crazy or only going on an African safari. Had that law been in place, 30 Texans who were killed in the two Texas shootings last month would be alive.

Those victims’ right to life “trumps” (pun not intended) the NRA running the government. But that’s my two cents.

Next time we’ll consider where other red flags are needed. I’m hoping an American company is manufacturing some right now.

Shelly Kuehn is a resident of Gainesville and a volunteer on the Gainesville Daily Register’s reader advisory board.

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