I was speaking to Jim the other day about the reluctance of people to “get involved” with the mental health of friends and family members. Honestly, I’m guilty. It’s not a stretch to be aware of a constant stream of strange attitudes, inappropriate comments, excessive drinking, depression, anti-social behavior and other “quirks” of someone we know and say nothing. After all, we’ve been conditioned for years not to judge people, since some folks are just “different” and that’s OK. For the Aurora and Newtown shooters, it was not OK.
This is the hard stuff people. It was easy for Connecticut and Colorado politicians and gun-control activists to blame firearms and law-abiding gun owners for the shootings, targeting the small percentage of the population who own these “evil black rifles” with their “excessively high-volume” of bullets. I’m not sure what they did in Colorado, but in Connecticut, they did very little if anything when it comes to mental health issues. I guess they required some mental health training for school staff, changed a couple of insurance regulations and – of course – created a task force to look at the state’s mental health system. In other words … not much.
It’s disturbing to me that politicians and gun-control activists think they have made some sort of progress; they have not. But what’s even more disturbing is the news from Colorado today. The University of Colorado school psychiatrist who treated the shooter had warned law enforcement a month before the shooting.
Court documents made public Thursday revealed Dr. Lynne Fenton also told a campus police officer in June that the shooting suspect had threatened and intimidated her.
Fenton’s blunt warning came more than a month before the July 20 attack at a movie theater that killed 12 and injured 70.
Fenton had a legal obligation to report the threats, and she did just that. This trained professional warned he was “a danger to the public due to homicidal statements.” Where the break-down eventually occurred I don’t know. At this point, we don’t know if the Newtown shooter was under the care of a professional, if he was taking any prescription medication, or if he had taken medication in the past. But the police did find medication to treat anxiety and depression in the Aurora shooter’s apartment.
If you think the 2nd Amendment lobby is strong, maybe you should look at the strength of the prescription drug lobby.
The writing is on the wall, the message has been received. Yet still, gun-control activists and politicians continue to blame inanimate objects and responsible gun owners for these tragedies. We absolutely must deal with what’s hard, and have a frank discussion about the mental health system and our attitude towards treating and dealing with mental illness.
Keep in mind, mentally ill people who commit mass murder are extremely rare, and extreme outliers. Of course, this does not make the families of those who died feel any better, but even if we succeed in properly treating these few individuals and keep them away from firearms and weapons of mass destruction, we still have an even bigger problem.
Firearms are associated with thousands of murders and other violent crimes tied to gangs, drugs, and poverty. Similar to dealing with mental health, this to is a hard problem to solve. Any discussion on gun violence must have – at the top of the itinerary – the gang culture, drug use, the breakdown of the family and huge spike in one-parent households, education system failures, economic conditions and faith across our great country. We have kids growing up with no hope – no matter what President Obama says – and this friends, must change.