For some strange reason, NBC’s “Meet the Press,” decided the nation required the National Rifle Association’s perspective of the recent Navy Yard shooting. And true to form, LaPierre argued recurring themes: (a) The facility “was largely left unprotected;” and (b) there weren’t enough good guys with guns to stop it.
I’m positive that I will be considered some liberal whack job, but LaPierre’s comments seem to say that the only way to stop a disaster is to have more of the very things that helped caused the disaster in the first place.
The suggestion that primary school teachers be armed is idiotic. One teacher couldn’t overcome a sudden attack, so maybe we have the NRA arm the students. Why not make it an elective course? And once schoolchildren are protected, maybe shooters will go nuts in coffee houses. Thus, as an added service, your local brew place can advertise patrons are protected by a 9mm Colt SSP semi-automatic double-action pistol. Discount shops and big-box stores can follow suit. Gosh, the USA can become the new ‘old west.’
Stepping aside from LaPierre’s repugnance, the gangs in Chicago that spray city streets with untold violence and death most likely are not legal gun owners. Aaron Alexis had a record of gun violence and a history of mental illness, as did Georgia shooter Michael Brandon Hill, Connecticut school shooter Adam Lanza and Colorado shooter James Holmes. While there is no telling whether increased psychiatric help would have resulted in a different fate for their victims, it’s clear the state of mental health care in the United States needs significant support.
The number of people who have PTSD victims overwhelm the current support system. Returning Veterans and families are overwhelmed. Those suffering from the disease often live in a state of “intense fight of flight.” There appears to be tremendous trouble in diagnosing and treating soldiers for post-traumatic stress disorder. Confusing paperwork, inconsistent training and guidelines, and incompatible data systems have hindered the service as it tries to deal with behavioral issues. It’s a crucial issue: after a decade of war, soldier suicides outpace combat deaths.
Rather than focusing on arming everyone, maybe it’s time to discuss specifics such as cuts to mental health and its impact on services. The Washington Post reported states cumulatively cut over $1.8 billion from their mental health services from 2009 to 2011. Another report by the National Association of State Mental Health Program Directors put the number as high as $4.35 billion from 2009 to 2012. Funding for these other services never quite caught up with the needs of patients who used to be confined to institutions. As a result, the prison system has in many ways become the de facto safety net for the mentally ill. A 2006 Justice Department study found 56 percent of state prisoners, 45 percent of federal prisoners, and 64 percent of local jail inmates suffered from some form of mental health problem. More broadly, more than 60 percent of adults with a diagnosable mental disorder and 70 percent of children were not receiving the mental health services needed, according to a 2011 Kaiser Foundation report.
Personally, it’s obvious America has problems with our tolerance for gun violence. While I am not proponent of eliminating the second amendment, anyone supporting the two following scenarios needs serious mental health care:
- The only way to solve or reduce mass shooting is to arm a whole lot people; and
- That step number 1 is actually a great idea.