Friday, April 20, 2007

Beyond FAILURE: Poor Gun Control + Poor Funding for Mental Health Services…

Equals devastation. That’s how students and staff at Virginia Tech feel right now: devastated. That’s how the families and friends of the victims feel. That’s how everyone affected by the Columbine shootings felt, too, eight years ago today. And that’s how many Americans feel as we remember so many victims: devastated once again by our government’s failure to control the proliferation and use of guns in our country and to properly treat the mentally ill.

Poor gun control needs to be fixed and Democrats dropped the ball on that front to appease voters in swing states who like to hunt. So argues a recent Salon article by Alex Koppelman, “Why Democrats dumped gun control.” All politicians with power to toughen gun control legislation share blame for the pathetic state of gun control in this country. Hopefully now they’ll cross party lines and will be supported by all voters as they finally address this issue and do more than lip service to it.

Meanwhile, “Shooting shows gaps in mental health safety net” by Reuters writer Julie Steenhuysen highlights how frustrated mental health providers feel about their inability to properly treat the mentally ill. Bottom line here: “Funding for mental health services in the United States has dropped in half over the past 25 years.” In half. That quote is from the director of Virginia Tech’s Thomas Cook Counseling Center. Dr. Steven Sharfstein, a past president of the American Psychiatric Association, is also quoted in this article to this effect: The student who went on the shooting rampage was held in a mental health facility for one day and released because he wasn’t considered “imminently dangerous” and therefore no time or money was available for him to be observed so a more “in-depth and effective diagnosis” might have been achieved. “He may have been hiding a paranoid psychosis that with a few days of observation may have come out.”

A few days.

We’ve witnessed over and over again the combined impact of ineffective gun control legislation and limited funding for mental health services in this country. Unfortunately even the horrific events at Columbine failed to compel legislators to pass legislation or mental health initiatives that might have prevented this week’s massacre at Virginia Tech. We can only hope and pray and demand our political leaders step up and do what they need to do to make sure the memory of every victim of school violence will finally be honored by legislation in favor of strict gun control and in significant support of mental health programs. Maybe then we’ll be able to send our kids of all ages off to school without a second thought about their safety. Maybe then devastation will be replaced with hope.

Photo credit: Rick Wilking (Reuters)


Anonymous Anonymous said...

On the day of the Virginia Tech incident, I read a story in a UK paper. England has strict national gun control laws. The story was about another in a long line of shootings. One of the comments was "these kids shoot guns like they chew gum".

Gun control is a stupid feel good worthless stunt.
Why is the question? Not how. Why is violence the answer to "solve" bad situations?

12:23 PM  
Blogger Sustenance Scout said...

Hey David, thanks for your note. I'm unfamiliar with England's gun control laws, but I do have family in Canada who consider our lack of gun control incomprehensible. I'm not sure kids consider violence a solution; the kids who killed at Columbine here in Denver thought violence was fun. Give kids like these easy access to weapons and you've got a nightmare on your hands.

5:43 AM  
Blogger Jeff said...

Yes Once again we should think about the Situation held in Virginia Tech.I am shocked that After happening the situation also why the government not concentrating on prevention of Guns in child hand.Columbine Government should think about Their Gun control laws as well it should be implemented very strictly.Not even that one country all the countries should focus on the Situation and their control laws on violence.
Jeff Dean

Virginia Alcohol Addiction Treatment

2:07 AM  

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