Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Again?

Six are dead.  Thirteen are wounded.

Again.

Those are the numbers we heard in Tucson.  Dory and Judge Roll and Gabe and Christina-Taylor and Dot and Phyllis are long forgotten, though.  Too much time has passed.  CNN's retrospective on mass shootings in America listed the last ten.... in the last two years.... and Tucson was too long ago to be mentioned.  Our event is ancient history, it seems.

Yet, it is exactly the same story.... a preventable story... a story that will resonate for a while and then vanish into the collective unconscious.... unless I keep nagging about it, I guess.  So......

Another disturbed 20-something white boy, this one with parents and therapists and an academic career to go along with his legally obtained weaponry, shot up a peaceful college town.  His family warned the police; he deluded the officers with politeness and his whiteness, I'm sure.  His written manifesto mentions his glee that they did not search his home and find his weapons cache.

He obviously knew right from wrong.

There were two sorority sisters on the front lawn.... a young man on his way to the deli.... bike riders and errand runners and their lives are ended or altered because the laws have not kept up with the problems.

I don't know how to write the law, because people shouldn't be locked up just because they see the world through a different lens.  Crazy and Creative are first cousins, I think.  We don't want mad men walking the streets, but we don't want to incarcerate people just for being weird.

On the other hand, our shooter heard voices, and told others about them, in private, in a journal, on MySpace.  The Santa Barbara shooter posted his whinging on YouTube and wrote his own 140 page screed, promising vengeance.  I think it would have been obvious to anyone who looked just a little deeper that neither should possess deadly force.

I can say that with some authority, since Stan, the guns-and-ammo manager at our local Wal-Mart, refused to sell our shooter ammunition.  Why? "It was obvious he wasn't a person who should be given ammo."  If the salesperson at the shooter's second Wal-Mart stop had been as attentive to his job, perhaps the bloody Safeway scene could have been avoided.

Sometimes, it just takes a little bit of common sense to make a difference.

Reframing pieces of the issue toward mental health may open the door to sensible legislation just a bit wider.  Again, drawing the line is a difficult task, but little steps would be better than no steps.

Yes, the legislation on the books should be enforced. Yes, states should comply with mandatory reporting requirements, and the hardware and software should be easy to access.  Yes, there will still be horror stories.  But, perhaps, with expansion of our mental health services and a willingness to look at more than the client-in-the-interview, we might have a chance of preventing more posts like these.

Because that's the part that grabs my heart and twists it like a wet washrag.... both Tucson and Santa Barbara were preventable tragedies.  Had appropriate care been available, had the shooters been treated... medicated.... kept away from deadly weapons because everyone agreed that their brains were not functioning well enough .... I'd have less notoriety and a 13 year old friend.


10 comments:

  1. I feel for this father but the problem here is greater than guns. If this last guy could fool the police, he would have no problem buying guns. Asperger's treatment won't stop gun ownership as very few Asperger's are violent. When he finally alerted everyone to his plot, they were on their way to try and stop him but he waited until he knew it was too late. Clearly he was psychotic, in control, and very devious. Police, authorities need to do more learning as to what psychotic means. Psychotics know how to play the game to hide their real purpose. Likely a lot of these shooters have had being psychotic as another part of their personality. Do we understand it enough to deal with it?

    I think when parents express a concern as his did, it's not enough to send out deputies who are untrained in mental health. They should do a mandatory three day hold where trained officials can figure out what's going on. Even changing gun laws, saying 'not one more' won't fix this problem. I am fine with increased gun regs; but this guy killed three with a knife. A machete in the hands of a trained person could easily have killed all he did with the guns-- a sword can be just as lethal or more so. We want guys like him off the street because swords, knives, bombs (ingredients not hard to find) will still kill. Psychotics have to be evaluated for how dangerous they are and held before they strike. This guy had so many secret sides to him, grandiose, blaming others for everything, a sociopath, that he needed to be held. We do not treat mental illness as seriously as we should. Someone like him would kill one way or another and could easily, in a crowd, be as lethal. None of us are prepared for someone whipping out a long knife. We can't live expecting that. We don't want to live expecting that; so we need laws in place that get such people before it's too late. I totally feel for that father. I just feel the gun thing alone won't fix this. We need to get more serious about what might.

    One thing is we are having a lot more violence and I don't just mean mass killing, but also one person going ballistic on another. Ours has become a much more violent culture and whether it's movies, TV, video games, or constant war, I think we need to look at what the heck is going on when fighting over a shrub or anger at a traffic infraction can lead to one person killing another. Too frequently we hear about attacks that make no sense. I just have to wonder what's gone wrong with us as a people :(. Or have we always been this way and its inherent in our culture to take out what we perceive as unfairness on someone else.

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    1. I'm with you, Rain, entirely.

      It's so much more complicated to include mental health in the violence debate. The internet meme on misogyny, which has sprung up around the Santa Barbara shooter, is one arm of the octopus. I don't know if ours has always been such a violent culture, but "constant war" and Quentin Tarantino have certainly had an impact on these young men.

      There's also the proliferation of idiocy on the internet. Our shooter was obsessed with grammatical inaccuracies in Congressional legislation which absolved representatives from paying taxes - and he found that idea on line. The Santa Barbara shooter fueled his anger with sites extolling the Alpha Male and disparaging females. It's free, it's easy to access, it touches a nerve.... and people die.

      Knives haven't been part of this story yet... though I, too, laughed about having to regulate cutlery when the horror required levity. Every case is different, obviously, but you are so right in your conclusion - What is wrong with us as a people?
      a/b

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    2. I think it's where we have to start-- what let this guy grow up feeling he was so entitled? It turns out his family was not all that rich. What forms a psychotic? I heard a speaker on OPB one day who talked about psychotics he had met and I think he had written a book but I couldn't find it when I looked.

      One person said what is nuts here is if you made a joke about a bomb, the police could throw you in jail for 48 hours. Why couldn't they hold this guy to evaluate him since they had been warned? This isn't the first time that insufficiently trained police have led to worse problems. Sometimes it's been an overreaction of using violence themselves. Now they have all those fancy toys that make them look like military which I guess came from what was left over from our Iraq war. But the training and recognition of when they don't have the knowledge to evaluate something that could have prevented Boston too as that was another one that they interviewed those guys ahead of the bombings and then let it happen :(

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  2. We campaign with just those three words from Richard Martinez. In email, phone calls and postcards to representatives in Congress and to the White House. Not One More. And sign up at Everytown For Gun Safety. They'll send actual postcards on your behalf. It has to end and only loud repetitive voices can do it.

    annie

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    1. Loud, repetitive voices... Not One More..... if responsible legislation has a chance, those are the tools to get it done, annie.
      a/b

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    2. Without a firm suggestion as to what that legislation will be, what will actually happen? Nobody wants there to be more-- except maybe other psychotics. The rest of us know it could be our loved ones or us next time. The question is what would have stopped this one? I know it feels good to say something but I think that's what those who don't want real change count on-- something that feels good but does nothing!

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    3. Sometimes feeling good is necessary. It's also important to continue to make noise, to keep the cards and letters and phone calls and emails and petitions going. that's what the other side has that we do not - an energized base. Moms Demand Action's pairing with Mayors Against Illegal Guns may be the catalyst for change - Bloomberg's money with Moms' activists may be able to keep the pressure on the legislature to fund the recording/reporting requirements and, more important, to change a mind set.

      Who we are as a country is a larger issue.... one I am finding it harder to tackle :(
      a/b

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    4. My concern is that we stop with feeling good and it doesn't change things. The other side never stops with their efforts but it's not just slogans. It's real proposals. We need specific things we want or the view will be that we want to take all guns and that isn't happening. So what could we do about guns that would at least help if not stop it all. Then face the mental illness issue that frankly a lot of lefties also don't want to deal with under the fear that it will go too far. I think fear it will go too far stops a lot of actions that might actually help

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    5. oh and I am waiting to see what bloomberg does about trying to take down democratic candidates who might not go as far as he wants on the guns. If he goes after what I'd call our best shot at getting dems in some states, I won't be favoring him at all. So far i haven't seen specifics from him on exactly what he wants and who he's after as not liberal enough on guns

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    6. Watch and wait... me too! There are other issues to be considered (reproductive choice, immigration, ACA) and a fully fleshed out program would be nice... though I don't know if it's in the works.

      Mental health issues get caught up with freedom, don't they? The left's ability to shoot itself in the foot never ceases to amaze me.
      a/b

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