Bonding with the Mentally Ill
Something difficult for those of us outside the Culture of the Gun to understand is the bond that they share with each other. Nancy Lanza, a full fledged member a Live Free or Die New Hampshire resident, believed in her second amendment rights. When her son the school shooter at Sandy Hook Elementary seemed beyond help, she used the gun culture as a means to bond with her son. The idea of using lethal weapons as bonding tools, especially when the individual is deeply disturbed as the school shooter was is crazy. Allowing him access to the lethal weapons he used to slaughter those little children was equally crazy. I support background checks in large part to keep guns out of the hands of criminals and individuals with mental conditions prone toward violence.
Having said all this, the only people who have a legitimate right to own and use weapons of war, are...warriors; men and women trained to use weapons and the conditions under which to use them. The men and women in the armed forces. The bond between men (because it is mostly men) in combat situations is powerful. They aren't in Iraq or Afghanistan to preserve Liberty and the American Way, they are there to protect their fellow soldiers. Chris Kyle, the American Sniper understood this. He also understood that the way back for veterans suffering from PTSD was to reconnect them with this bond, this culture of the gun; loading, holding, aiming, shooting the gun at targets and being reinforced for accuracy, this and only this was the link to bring amputees and brain damaged and mind damaged men back to themselves, back to a semblance of pride. This is why Chris did what he did to mentor his fellow warriors, and yes, he may have seen this guy as "bat shit crazy" even beyond help, but that did not dissuade him from reaching out just the same. Remember, this was not someone who Chris sought out, this shooters mother reached out to Chris on her son's behalf with disastrous results.
Also worth noting, the vast majority of individuals with mental illness do NOT have violent tendencies toward themselves or others. Stigmatizing all folks with mental issues as somehow violent and dangerous is neither accurate or kind. Weapons should be kept from anyone at risk for hurting themselves or others, but don't assume that means all people with mental issues are potentially violent.