Saturday, August 11, 2012

Gun madness

We need to keep coming back to this gun control topic as long as the death toll keeps rising. This week, it was people in their place of worship, a Sikh temple lost six people who were there to pray, in peace.
There was a time when people were killed by guns who were involved in drugs or gang turf wars. It was still senseless, but we could console ourselves by saying they were mixed up in bad choices. Then the killing went beyond just those involved, and innocent bystanders were gunned down... only the bystanders were often children who happened to be in the wrong place, at the wrong time.
I do remember the Mother of a Columbine Colorado school shooting, whose daughter was shot & killed, saying how she felt when someone attending the funeral said, "she was just in the wrong place at the wrong time". The Mother could not accept that statement- and she is right.

How could a teen attending high school, going to classes be "in the wrong place at the wrong time", enough to be shot & killed? Looking back to recent mass shootings in the USA, high school, college, movie theater, and church have become random killing fields, that one not make it out alive?
Indeed one local man said sane gun owners prevail, and his only regret was that a sane gun owner was not armed & at the movie theater, so the massacre did not go on to the extent that it did.

Oh! And it is determined that the shooter is mentally unstable, and may suffer from mental illness.
Ya think?

But then you look back at the shoulda, coulda woulda.
Jered Lochner (the Arizona shooter who disagreed w the congresswoman & decided to open fire in a strip mall parking lot where the congresswoman Gabby Giffords was there to listen to constituents.
Prior to his killing spree, the Community College he attended, felt he was mentally unstable & told him a mental evaluation would be needed to continue to attend classes.

In retrospect, the latest Colorado shooter, Holmes was being seen for mental health issues, and the physician had concerns, enough to mention it to the greater board, but when he dropped out of school, they no longer had jurisdiction over his care.

Have we HIPPA'ed ourselves into a corner-- so many laws & rules about patient privacy that mental health care professionals have to take a hands off approach, even when all the red flag warning signs are there?
Of course we don;t want to go to the opposite extreme-- where anyone who seeks mental health care has the stigma of being judged-- but there have been these cases where writings & things being said are outside the scope of general mental health. They have crossed the line into extreme violent thoughts and perhaps even developing plans for how such violence might be carried out.

But the volatile link is that anyone with those thoughts can waltz into a K Mart, or Wal Mart, or go online & buy as much guns & ammo & body armor as they like. The ease with which any ordinary citizen can access firepower that exceed that of the average police officer is where we get into trouble.
It is too easy for the unstable mind fantasizing violence, to put it into motion.

No the answer is not to arm cops w military style assault rifles, or worse, having more ordinary citizens packing more volatile high powered, rapid fire weaponry. Upping the ante here is the wrong way to go.

I contend these innocent victims were in the right place- high school, college, movie theater or church, and the element that is wrong, is our society allowing too easy access to assault rifles, and dropping the ball on all the warning signs that were observed and either ignored, or prohibited from continued follow up with mental health care.

We wind up with "do nothing" politicians, who give speeches after the slaughter & that's it.
On Monday, I attended a Hiroshima Nagasaki memorial event where people worldwide lit floating lanterns in solidarity for peace. Whether it be nukes or assault rifles, this madness must stop.

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