The National Rifle Association could improve its relations with the public by working through programs aiming to improve the mental health of people, all kinds of people.

Now maybe they are working through such programs, but if they are I don’t know about it.

The NRA’s mantra that “guns don’t kill, people do” would fit comfortably in a program geared to help the mentally ill. And it has been consistently the mentally ill who have used guns to kill innocent people.

Right now in particular when a lack of funding has caused Alabama to cut back on mental health facilities, the NRA could help by stressing the need for priorities in this area.

From my observation, states serve the mentally ill by providing places for them to take their medicine, and it is this medicine that gives people a chance to control themselves and act in a constructive manner.

If nothing else, the NRA could help the public develop a better understanding of the problems of mentally ill people and their families.

Families who have to deal with this problem need all the help they can get.

In retrospect, the single mom who was trying to deal with her son who killed those kids in Newtown Conn., did not stand a chance.

Now you are right to ask: How can the NRA help in such situations?

I can only respond by saying I have no idea how the NRA can help, but I do know the NRA could find a way to help if they wanted to. I would start by going to mental health associations to find out how they can help.

In particular, I would talk to doctors and parents who deal with this problem. I feel confident they would tell NRA people how they can help.

The success of this idea would depend on the willingness of the NRA to take some responsibility in this problem.

Indeed it may be true that people, not guns, kill, but it is just as true that the NRA manufactured the guns used in the killing.

* * *

Medical research has reached a zenith, I thought, when I saw the incredible television news story about the young man whose arms and legs had been successfully transplanted.

And then I remembered my own experience years back when surgeons at EAMC performed open heart surgery on me.

Then I thought of all the people I know who have experienced knee replacements and hip replacements.

The practice of medicine means so much to all of us.

My memories as a child include how it was that people would not say the word “cancer,” but today we have people who discuss their cancer treatments.

Times change, people change, often for the better.

Gillis Morgan is an associate professor emeritus of journalism at Auburn University and an award-winning columnist. He can be reached at