Tuesday, December 18, 2012

The Selective Outrage About Gun Violence & The Elephant in the Room: Mental Illness

"...Gun control laws do not control guns. They simply disarm law-abiding citizens, while people bent on violence find firearms readily available." Thomas Sowell

  • The selective outrage from anti-gun activists about gun violence is so conspicuous one has to wonder if they even recognize their own  glaring hypocrisy. Or is it more than that? What am I talking about? I'm talking about the multiple shootings by illegal gun use that occur almost every weekend in many major cities that only get reported by the local news media. For example, how many people outside of New York City know on Labor Day weekend of last year, there were 67 people shot including two police officers. Let me repeat: 67 people were shot on one weekend. Two people died that day, one an innocent bystander. This past October, in Chicago, there were 24 people wounded and five killed from multiple shootings over one weekend. Just last Friday, 10 people were shot, four were teenagers. The murders in Connecticut last week were certainly more horrific because children were involved. But were is the outrage over the other mass killings that take place almost every weekend in our major cities? Could it be the media (and even many Americans) are so jaded about urban violent crime, they don't care---because it involves mostly blacks?  In other words, the lives of black children---victims of violent crime as well---don't have as much value as the lives of white children? Hey, just askin'. And it's a question many should be asking of themselves.
  • Moreover, there have been 12 mass-spree murders in less than a decade. Over 130 million people own guns. That breaks down to 1 in 10 million. That does not qualify as a national epidemic of mass killings. But the killings in our cities, as described above, involving the use of illegal weapons, does in my opinion.

  • And then there's the elephant in the room. The "elephant" is mental illness. Any time there is an incident as the one in Connecticut or Columbine or Andorra, the easiest discussion is to talk about guns. The fact is the mental health system in this country is broken. For example, if someone exhibits specific erratic behaviors or conspicuous mental health disorders (delusional, paranoid, severe mood disorders, severely withdrawn, etc.), the police, if called at all, cannot do anything unless the individual is a threat to himself or the community. Why?  Because the law is now so absurd, it requires violence to be done before authorities can take any action to get the individual mental health help. Yet, you can bet family and friends know this particular individual is a time bomb. The fact is many severely mentally ill people are just too delusional or irrational to understand they need help. Today, we even allow severely mentally ill people to live on our streets (current estimates range from 30-40%). On the other hand, we give more attention to stray dogs and cats. At this time, we don't know the mental health status of Adam Lanza, but we do know that other mass shooters were mentally ill. We need to substitute political correctness for timely psychiatric intervention. Until we do that, until we better identify the people who have issues that lead to these types of violent acts, we're going to see more incidents regardless of the number of gun laws.