Taking aim at mental illness

Adam Lanza, the accused shooter at Sandy Hook Elementary School, didn’t undergo a background check to obtain the firearms he used to allegedly murder 20 children and six adults in December. He didn’t obtain a permit, register the gun or endure a waiting period.

That’s because he stole them from his mother who bought them legally.

Every day, hundreds of thousands of responsible gun owners properly handle their lethal collectibles, and nobody is wounded. It’s a few crazies that grab all the headlines.

Yet, in the wake of the seemingly ever more frequent mass shootings are periodic calls to action and responses from public figures regarding firearm regulations.

For the sake of argument, let’s say Lanza had used a standard 15-round magazine instead of the 30-round one he allegedly used at Newtown. And let’s keep going and say that the smaller clips resulted in only 13 tragic deaths instead of 26. Would anyone consider this a success?

Regulating guns is only treating the symptoms of a much more dangerous disease.

The government can reduce the size of magazines, place a ban on assault weapons and implement tougher background checks all it wants — and it should — but no real change will come until it takes a comprehensive approach to addressing mental health.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, less than 60 percent of U.S. adults diagnosed with serious mental illness receive treatment, and only 50 percent of children.

Society wants to overlook them or sweep them under the carpet because treatment costs money. It’s only when one of them snaps that anyone addresses the issue. Then, the media and powerful people respond with shock.

Make no mistake: This will happen again and again. People will use whatever objects they have available to maim and murder. But if we give them the necessary treatment, maybe some won’t feel the need to.

1 comments Anonymous Thu Jan 17 2013 09:14 Beg to differ. A serious attitude problem (cool to be bad, etc.) and the glamorization of crime in this country for decades now, thanks to the media (television, advertisements, radio, you name it) has a lot to do with it. Drugging half the population, I don’t feel, is the answer either.

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