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Monday, December 17, 2012

The elephant in the room: Is it time to talk about Gun Control laws now?

The elephant in the room: Is it time to talk about Gun Control laws now?

A horrific tragedy unfolded Friday morning as a gunman, 20-year-old Adam Lanza, shot and killed his mother and then proceeded to gun down 17 first grade children and 6 adults at the Sandy Hook school in Connecticut.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to the families affected by this horrible event.

But even as the story unfolds, politicians are jumping at the bit to use this tragedy for their own political ends.  In Rahm Emanuel's famous words "Never let a good crisis go to waste".

Why is it that this kind of tragedy has to happen over and over and all we can do is scapegoat the issue to a "political fix" based on gun control?

Why can we not bring ourselves to address the real issue? The elephant in the room... we have a serious issue in this country with individuals with mental illness and violent tendencies. 

Reports are that it was widely known that Adam Lanza suffered from a several mental issues, including a severe personality disorder. [1]

All the gun control laws in the world would not have stopped this killer, more many of his predecessors.  We already have laws that prohibit handgun possession by those under 21.  We already have gun laws that make it illegal to buy gun if you can not pass a background check.  We already have gun laws that make it illegal to possess a gun if you are deemed mentally ill.  Laws are and always will be ineffective in deterring the mentally ill and criminally insane from their actions.  Our gun control laws are already sufficient.  Laws can do no more.  The rest we must do ourselves.

The real problem is that mental illness in this country goes unchecked by those who have the responsibility for curtailing it.  I'm not speaking about the government, nor local law enforcement.  I'm talking about the friends, employers and families of the gunmen.  Those who knew him best and saw what was happening early on.

It's a syndrome.  An epidemic.  A nation wide problem.  Something that we just can't bring ourselves to deal with.  A friend or family member being in need of serious psychological help.  We deceive ourselves into thinking that we're wrong, or that the problem couldn't be that bad, or that we should leave well enough alone.  It's too hard, or it's not really my responsibility.  "Yes, they've had trouble but I can't believe my friend/brother/sister/father/mother/kids would do such a thing".  The publicity would be a blight upon our family, or our company, or our friendship if we were to do the right thing and acknowledge the issue.  It's too hard.  It's too expensive.  I want to help but I don't know where to start so I ignored it....Enough!

Far, far too many mentally ill never get the help that they need, especially those that are adults.  And as we've seen, some of those needing attention seek it out, in the most violent and public of ways.

The fault here lies not in the two inanimate objects that Adam Lanza wielded when he walked into that school, but rather in him, his mental illness, and yes... in those that failed to get help for him early on when they saw the signs. No, it is not time to talk about more gun control laws.  It's way past time to talk about proper mental health care for those with violent tenancies.

Tom Sullivan, whose son Alex also died in the Aurora theater shooting, welcomed the discussion. Sullivan and his wife spent part of the morning making sure relatives who live in the area were OK.
Sullivan said mental health, not gun control, is a more pressing concern.
"We all need someone in our lives to care," Sullivan said. "If we see a friend, a colleague, a co-worker and they're having a hard time, we need to reach out."
Some shoppers interviewed at Oregon's Clackamas Town Center, scene of the Tuesday mall killings, had similar reactions.
"We need to pay more attention to the people close to us, because I think there's a lot of signs prior to things," said shopper Sierra Delgado of Happy Valley, Ore.

Robert A. Levy, chairman of the libertarian-leaning Cato Institute and one of the organizers behind a Supreme Court case that enshrined a Second Amendment right to own guns, said Sunday that with more than 250 million guns already in circulation in the United States, restrictions on new guns would make little difference. He said by e-mail that tough gun laws did not stop a mass shooting in Norway or regular violence in places like the District of Columbia.
“I’m skeptical about the efficacy of gun regulations imposed across the board — almost exclusively on persons who are not part of the problem,” he said. “To reduce the risk of multivictim violence, we would be better advised to focus on early detection and treatment of mental illness. An early detection regime might indeed be the basis for selective gun access restrictions that even the N.R.A. would support.”

Early intervention and proper psychological help might have saved those 20 people's lives.

1 comment:

  1. See also:

    'I Am Adam Lanza's Mother': A Mom's Perspective On The Mental Illness Conversation In America

    OPINION: The Issue Is Too Little Mental Health Care

    Where was God video