Not as a second amendment zealot, an NRA stooge, not as a gun control advocate (that isn’t to say I’m particularly opposed to the idea) fed up with too much talk and too little action as school shooting after school shooting savages our future, extinguishes our best and brightest. Rather as a person wearied of hearing about gun control as if it were the only thing to control instead of violence and the impetus towards it; who recognizes unless we do that, even should gun control’s most extreme faction succeed and citizen owned guns become a thing of the past, we will simply run out of things to ban and still have humanities violent tendencies to contend with.
Closer to 40 years than not on this planet and for the first time in Trump’s America I have to wonder if I will be shot encountering the police when my jerky body movements and defective disability affected legs mean I have to explain I can put my hands up or stay standing, walk towards you or keep my hands up but not both; and I’m still tired of hearing about gun control. My cerebral palsy and forearm crutches might make actions like turning around appear as if I’m reaching for a weapon, especially if I’ve been walking or standing a long time or distance; realistically worried about having to explain to officers my difficulty in say walking backwards, and I’m still tired of hearing about gun control. I’ve spoken before about the teacher who misidentified my ethnicity in front of the whole class and friends who guessed wrong about my origins when asked, and I wonder will police, ICE do the same, me suddenly facing questions about my immigration status unable to prove my citizenship by birth, because president Obama
got it right, you don’t carry your birth certificate to get ice-cream; and I’m still tired of hearing about gun control. When my city’s most popular movie theater was impacted by a deranged man outside waving a gun saying he needed to go to the hospital prompting police to storm in to occupied theaters and have patrons stand up putting their hands on their head, I thought about how many times I too had gone to that very theater, how I could have been there, the latest Star Wars film was probably playing by then, though don’t quote me on that, before changes in management thus customer service made it too much of a hassle; plus I figured out I made better nacho dip than the theater offered. If I wanted the ‘full movie theater feel’ all I had to do was cut the lights off in my own living room, bedroom; added bonuses, a pause/rewind button and much shorter trips to the bathroom after drinking the equivalent of the theater’s big gulp. What it would have been like loudly enunciating in the dark to a skittish officer I can stand or put my hands up but not both, my forearm crutches that would have been obscured by lack of light laying in the next seat, reality moments such as that could make me one more tragic statistic, horrible officer mistake; and I’m still tired of hearing about gun control. I was still in school when towns like Pear Mississippi, Paducah Kentucky, Jonesboro Arkansas, Bethel Alaska became known names thanks to the emerging tragic phenomenon called a school shooting, was a junior in high school when Columbine happened completely across the country from me; and I remain tired of hearing about gun control. Firmly believing what a writing teacher told my classmate and friend when she was incredulous about narratives fast being spun about why such a horribly new thing happened and on such a vast scale at that time: the music these kids listened to, Marylyn Manson, and the video games they played, Dune, somehow lead them to do what they did, stating I listen to Marylyn Manson, I play Dune and I don’t want to do that; our teacher’s response was swift and no shortage of priceless, “because you are not psychotic.” Seeing the latest school shooting in Parkland Florida and the procedure for removing students from the school, shooter on the loose, asked to prostrate themselves on the floor, put their hands up, walk out of buildings with their hands on their heads, on the shoulders of the person in front of them and I harken back to my own time in school; again to explaining, pleading with an on edge officer about my physical limitations, wondering if beloved teachers who I adored would have died shielding me from an officer who didn’t understand I couldn’t, not wouldn’t follow his directions, yet I am exhausted hearing about gun control. 4 of 5 of my best friend’s kids are in school, her oldest attending the middle school wing of a school for those with special needs, behavioral problems, autism, ‘violent’ outbursts, childhood schizophrenia (talk about a place where something could go wrong) her second a mere 2 years from the tumultuous time in life known as middle school and on a cocktail of medication for ADHD documented severe, another in elementary school, the other excited everyday to go to pre-school; the oldest of her 2 younger sisters just graduated the alternative local high school (another environment ripe for volatility) graduation season 2016 and frankly I’ve had it with hearing about gun control. Perhaps that’s because I know the limits of gun control my journalistic/commentary work lending a unique understanding, though anyone watching the news regularly knows the blueprint for what will happen if the gun control needle finally moves giving gun control supporters some or all of what they want. Regular readers will remember this one (feel free to tell me how sick you are of seeing it, probably not as sick as I am of typing it) They greatly restricted gun ownership in the U.K. only to see knife crime suddenly rise to equal it; their ‘common sense,’ a phrase often used here to describe gun legislation citizens desire, gun regulations did nothing to prevent someone from shouting Britain first then shooting parliament member Jo Cox dead with an allowed hunting rifle, because she backed Britain staying in the European Union. Guns all but disappeared from citizen hands and out came the horrific acid attacks to the point their parliament is debating restricting the sale of corrosive liquids to licensed buyers; but, should they go forward passing said legal measures, beware of those who passed high school chemistry, god forbid teach it, or don’t they get Breaking Bad re-runs in the U.K.? For those who need a 5 minute recap/first time synopsis it’s the downward spiral tale of Walter White burnt out aforementioned high school chem teacher whose teenage son has cerebral palsy and whose wife is expecting a baby (probably the menopause variety where she thought she was done menstruating, they do what husbands and wives do spelling a midlife surprise) with a rapidly going out water heater to make life a little more complicated. Plus because we habitually pay teachers a pittance, White has long ago taken a second job at the local carwash taking crap from hometown well to do’s, washing their cars on weekends, putting up with their kids and their bought for them beemers when he’s diagnosed with cancer; to pay his medical bills and leave something to his family once he’s gone, his diagnosis making the former extremely likely, he uses his chemistry knowledge to make and sell meth. Never mind what you can find on YouTube or the dark web if you want it, whether it’s illicit drug formulas or corrosive acid made from mixed household products; guess no one asked if you actually had to buy corrosive materials as opposed to mixing them up at home with chemicals usually used to clean, used in fertilizer, weed killer you put on your grass, in your garden even considering all the U.S. similarly available substances banned there. Worth noting paralleling Breaking Bad’s White character to the U.K., larger Europe, no you won’t see people driven to desperation over healthcare, standard employment, what they do have mirroring the U.S. is a growing population of disillusioned and disaffected youth, that suspected acid attacker was 16, many of the terrorists’ ages there match our school shooters here; the woman in France who threw acid at 4 American college students studying abroad was deranged and a one off signaling it somehow doesn’t count, unknown if she purchased or made her acidic concoction. While here at home democrats, independents, progressives, pick your political persuasion hold up charts comparing us with the rest of the westernized, world at large conveniently forgetting their comparison is with countries where they don ‘t possess freedom of speech, press, peaceful assembly, ran by dictators and subject to caning for littering like the Philippines, Singapore, China, who has its own legacy with knife crimes via daycare workers, school personnel, random persons targeting children, but they all live, except when they don’t, capping it off with a huge swath of unpaved roads. Worse it keeps happening every few years, one attacker fueled by what CNN’s international desk anchor called doomsday rumors, yet Americans are the only ones driven by fake news and conspiracy theories, Christian ideology just as terroristic and devastating as anything doled out by ISIS, Al-Qaeda, Hamas, Boko Haram; for those holding onto their enamored view, heartened by limits of what a knife can do versus an automatic weapon, let’s talk about the coordinated attack on a Chinese train station by so called separatists (their version of terrorists) and the 33 no longer breathing thanks to ‘long knives.’ Still no moves to ban those ‘long knives’ or accurately identify the other ‘knives’ that look more like meat cleavers, nor ban them from their society, civilian ownership, the very idea absurd; those daycare workers ‘armed’ with craft tools. Next to nothing ever mentioned about the permanent, lasting injuries inflicted on children whose age hasn’t reached double digits, some of whom were barely out of diapers if they indeed were old enough to be, that they likely have some of the same mental trauma every student who witnesses gun violence does, everyone for whom it is a daily scene in their neighborhood; experience identical difficulty in returning to school, feeling safe at school when their own teacher was their attacker. True Japan has a staggeringly low crime rate to be envied the world over, what’s not enviable the coercion, family shame used to garner such confessions out of innocents, illiterate innocents at that; yes America has a criminal justice problem, has kept the believed barbaric death penalty, but at minimum in America activists and politicians are fighting for criminal justice reform, non-profit projects working to get believed innocent people off of death row based on new evidence, advancing technology, achievements in DNA testing/processing, presenting evidence of prosecutorial misconduct. Footnote, those repeatedly guilty of aforementioned misconduct lose their jobs; contrast that to the other widely known Asian country, China again, whose justice system was starkly depicted in the Hollywood film Red Corner swift in their trials, guilty verdicts and preferred method for exacting ‘justice’ execution, billing the price of the bullet to the person’s family. Even critics shredding the screenplay for being out of date, Hollywood trope-y, totally unbelievable i.e. the Chinese depicted on screen called out because they wouldn’t believe an American with a dead girl in his bed, blood all over him and his finger prints on the knife murder weapon was innocent and being framed or that jurors get to decide when bored with a line of questioning, reviewers rolling their eyes at the last minute courtroom theatrics held up as evidence of a bad Chinese justice system not risky American behavior in a known strict foreign country, reluctantly conceded the portrait of Chinese justice was probably accurate; angry Red Corner wasn’t helping shine a light on the injustice found in the country. And Japan, despite their aggressive tactics to secure confessions, hard lines on crime, isn’t without telltale violence killing people who weren’t victims of family disputes, chose suicide to save face, 19 in an attack there on a home for the handicapped; why, he (the perpetrator) was upset about being fired, had even sent his plans to Japanese lawmakers, but Americans are the only ones consistently ignoring warning signs, meet exhibit A labeled glaring proof otherwise. Yes Australia banned citizen gun ownership and saw a significant reduction in suicides, yay them but not relevant to our discussion; praise lauded on them now for their swift action post their one and only school shooting. Americans lulled into this false sense of problem solving thinking the gun is the worst and only thing that can hurt them on a wide scale and if we could only get rid of the gun, find the right combination to ban select guns, often called weapons of war because that’s where they were first used, outlaw bump stocks, limit magazines, restrict purchase amounts of ammo this would never happen to our babies again; a cruel false hope really for already grieving parents, those who pray they never have to. Utterly dismissive of instances embodied by the kid in Spain who killed one teacher and injured 3 students with a crossbow made from ballpoint pens and a machete. No, clearly referenced above they don’t have a lot of school/mass shootings throughout Europe, the ‘more civilized western world;’ you know what they do have, a lot of vehicles rammed into Christmas markets, outdoor shopping/pedestrian walkways, tourists spots, British night clubs, explosions and guns rocking soccer stadiums and concerts, including the Champs Elysee and an Ariana Grande performance, by something far worse—terrorists. Vehicle attacks, at/near government buildings most recently the bridge leading to the British parliament where a man mowed down people simply walking then stabbed a police officer to death, mere months later there was the London bridge, borough market (a popular restaurant hub) carnage, less than 2 weeks after that suicide bomber responsible for the Manchester Ariana Grande concert panic. There was a terror attack in Sweden long after President Trump made one up to make his point about soft laws in foreign countries perpetuating such things, on the heels of so called no go zones in Europe thanks to violent terror activity, though the latter 2 parts be totally untrue; what is true, a man did plow through their busiest shopping district, deliberately trying to run over pedestrians, ramming the beer delivery truck he was driving into a department store killing 5, injuring 14 while following standard current ISIS instructions to attack where you live using personal/individual transportation means as a weapon. Perhaps we don’t remember the man who got a gun way too close to the Canadian parliament leaving solider and attacker dead using a rifle, assuredly they do as the French will have etched in their memories attacks on French grocery stores leaving hero officers willing to exchange himself for hostages dead, partly due to his awe inspiring heroism. Here at home we’ll set aside the New York truck attack and the guy who detonated a suicide vest pipe bomb inside New York city’s port authority bus terminal, because those were terrorist attacks, a specific subset of violence and not involving guns, skipping ahead to the Austin package bomber who killed 2 injuring at least 5 including severely wounded 75 year old Esperanza Herrera who clings to life after losing fingers and having a leg amputated results of the blast, before literally blowing himself up after a vehicle chase with police. Bombs while terrorizing and terrifying for residents not tied to any identified terror ideology, terror group rather reminiscent of home grown, far right, so called ‘white terrorists’ whose motivations tend to be white privilege and white supremacy, the common buzz phrase ‘toxic masculinity;’ also a foreshadowing of what can happen when guns are harder to get, but random chemicals, combustible materials used in a variety of normal, benign activities aren’t. Another one absent ideology, discernable rhyme or reason even when it comes to professional analysts, behaviorists delving into why criminals do what they do, there was the man who detonated pipe bombs inside a local Sam’s Club; thankfully no one was killed and injuries were minor. Or the man who drove a car loaded with propane onto Travis air force base setting himself on fire in the process, motive still a mystery; further countering the narrative our biggest tragedy in America is gun violence, the only thing that can generate gut wrenching tragedy is gun violence, ponder the woman killed in her own home when a car plowed through her very bedroom, driver alleged to be drunk. Something else we’ve waged social issue wars against for years and still find happening far too often while America’s stint of prohibition was an unmitigated disaster that gave rise to the mob, facilitated the war on drugs, another manifested nightmare, on the law enforcement side giving prohibition enforcers something to do, in full swing by the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s; leading our mass incarcerations up to now in the 21st century despite new scientific research about the potential medicinal benefits of illicit substances in a controlled medical environment, when combined with traditional medical approaches or mental health treatments. Somewhat of a contradiction to the above statement, the commercial bus driver charged with taking lucky ticket winners to the master’s tournament in Augusta Georgia allegedly high on drugs, weaving all over the road prior to crashing and hospitalizing at least 12; however, the opioid crisis teaches us the likely place he got them was his doctor, additionally taught by the opioid epidemic how backwards we are when it comes to the most effective methods of handling drug addicts, treatment—being the one thing they can’t get thanks to bed shortages, us stigmatizing them away from even trying. Absent initially doctor prescribed opioids for pain management, the strong correlations between hard core drug use and severe abuse, trauma, any substance abuse and self-medicating for undiagnosed, untreated, poorly treated mental health problems; issues we continue refusing to confront on a national level, put meaningful federal funding behind their solution, once more treatment, support services for existing and new parents, comprehensive sex ed., birth control access stemming the tide of unplanned pregnancies, but I digress. Or the 99 year old man driving an RV who snuffed out 2 teen girls’ lives; easy question what was he doing driving in his 90’s, let alone and RV of all things, while every other week there’s a new story about Alzheimer’s numbers, the struggles of caregiving any person with the multi forms of dementia, mental decline, every old enough to be aware American having seen a news special/segment on having ‘the other talk’ with older persons about their driving privileges/why they can no longer keep their car keys. Despite how safe they have managed to manufacture cars over the years headlines like these still persist ‘1 killed 4 injured in a San Francisco hit and run’ starting over a parking space argument and a man in a van wielding an ax, you read that right and ax, but only guns kill people, injure people, drastically alter lives when those injuries are permanent, the biggest scourge to American life is gun violence. Before reaching for the clichés of lifestyle related illnesses, poor diet, the obesity epidemic, the opioid crisis, crippling effects of poverty diminishing life expectancy carefully read the above. During the course of producing this article one more man drove a truck through crowded bar housed in a popular university town location: Münster Germany, ultimately using a gun to kill himself, the terrorist in that French grocery store in addition to pipe bombs, a knife, he had a gun too; both from countries who have dramatically restricted gun access. During the course of writing this article 2 knife attacks have made headlines one in Indianapolis by man upset at being asked to stop playing the siren on his bullhorn and a thwarted one in Berlin Germany attempting to target persons at a half marathon there; the former another mental health undercurrent situation similar to the road rage ax wielder. The man who appears to have blown himself up in his own apartment was apparently a white supremacist who had turned his living space into a liquid explosives den housing a gallon of things like acetone. Breaking: 10 dead, others injured after van hits pedestrians in Toronto (that’ Canada for the geographically impaired); authorities there calling it a deliberate attack motive unknown, but it fits all the previous terror inspired MO’s. It’s like that classic cartoon An American Tale about an immigrant family of mice and on the boat over to America they break out into song ‘there are not cats in America and the streets are paved with cheese;’ utter fantasy of course on 2 levels one being it’s a cartoon and the other characters in the story believing exaggerated descriptions about the promise of America. Paralleling that to our view of the rest of the western world, holding them up as a utopia, we have to come to grips with the fact yes, there is violence in the rest of the western world and each area has to deal with it in ways shown to curb it, put a sizable dent in it and there are no easy, cookie cutter solutions. Speaking of mental health, I’m tired beyond measure of hearing about gun control and never about mental health until it’s in the context of describing a laundry list of missed warning signs about the most recent mass shooter to dominate headlines, the help so and so was getting but was in no way helping them conquer their disorder, combination thereof, stave off them being a danger to self or larger society. Mental health a haphazard footnote unless it involves the prescribed psychiatric medication they had suddenly stopped taking, public citizens at large bearing the brunt of the consequences coming down like a hammer, the lengthy mental health history they had battling insurance companies for care their medical professional believes they need. Lacking insurance at all translating into mental health medical professionals they never had access to and never saw, if seen their insurance status meaning they were thus foisted onto a Medicaid, non-profit waitlist for a psych bed, simple appointment wondering through society until then; whatever happens in the meantime not the bureaucratic red tape operators problem. Gun type used always mentioned if known, the amount of ammunition found on their person, in their vehicle, home or apartment, mental health struggles rattled off as an afterthought unless it’s the psych bed they abruptly left or were unceremoniously dumped out of freeing room for someone deemed psychologically sicker days before wreaking havoc on public space X, the help they couldn’t get from sought out institutions regularly mentioned the local VA insert excuse here— assuming one is given, story often left with no explanation as to why they couldn’t obtain the help they actively strove to receive, the mental health problems their family usually accurately pinpoint, were attempting to get them help for but tragedy struck us first. Mental health a 60 second blurb on the local or national news when shutting down such and such facility shepherding mental health patients, long term institution dwellers into prison for a bed, an inhumane practice if there ever was one, fires sending mental health providers scrambling for a place to shelter patients highlighting the abysmal options for mentally unwell individuals with chronic conditions virtually eliminating living totally independently, persons acquiring said skills post diagnosis of more severe mental disorders who might at some juncture live on their own again just not yet. But we keep talking about guns as if it’s the only conversation needing to be had, the biggest part of our culture that needs to change; this citizen says hell no.
Nearly needless to say it has happened again another kid has taken another gun, another assault rifle to school and shot this time former classmates; Nikolas Cruz, 19 driven onto the Marjory Stoneman Douglas high school’s sprawling open air campus via car service entered building 12, colloquially referred to by students as the freshman building, pulled the fire alarm sending students meandering for the exits perplexed if it was a drill or an actual fire only to soon hear gun shots and know certainly it wasn’t a drill ultimately killing 17 people including 3 teachers. Among them a beloved burly football coach Aaron Feis putting his sizable body between hapless students and bullets, Scott Beigel geography teacher who was felled trying to user students into his classroom when shooting broke out, Chris Hixon Stoneman Douglas’ athletic director known for treating students like his own children doling out rides and lunch money to students needing it, opening his home to kids as a hang out, study space. Another teacher managed to hide 19 students in a classroom closet; students’ whispered calls to 9-1-1, frantic calls to parents and smartphone captured real time video give us visual documentation of the frantic moments Cruz spayed 5 classrooms on 2 floors with bullets, showcased SWAT teams clearing classrooms, a whole other jarring experience: hearing glass break, the door being jiggled and those heart stopping moments wondering is it the shooter, palpable relief when realizing it’s the police, lasting mere seconds, next being bellowed at to put your hands on your head, prostrate yourselves on the ground, told to slowly stand up and exit with hands on your head. Much of the anger directed at congress and their decades long inaction on gun control, allowing the assault weapons ban to lapse, going so far as stymieing research by the CDC toward addressing gun violence as a public health problem/threat while the above has become America’s new normal; this and worse playing out every day at some school across the country, happening to more and more students. Slightly different, surviving students’ anger refusing to take thoughts and prayers, condolences, refusing to accept old, tired arguments regarding why these things keep happening, why it seems the NRA, people’s right to own guns supersedes their right to be safe in a place they must go 5 days a week, school, seemingly in too many cases surpasses their right to their very lives. Openly challenging the second amendment, parameters of the second amendment pertaining to assault rifles whose purpose was to kill in a war capacity, the purpose of bump stocks which only serves to turn a semi-automatic legal weapon into an illegal weapon a-la a machine gun, high capacity magazines another instrument to kill well beyond what any hunter would ever need. Quickly broadening their focus past gun violence incidents encompassing their school, engrained tragedies like Sanyhook, Columbine, even mass gun violence exemplified by the church in Texas or the concert in Las Vegas, mentioning both the community violence ravaging Chicago understanding what they experienced once, shaking them to their cores is every day for other continuously traumatized students, persons in certain parts of the country, common denominator in their eyes, guns and their overwhelming prevalence everywhere. Readily rattling off impassioned statistics of people, children killed in accidental gun deaths from improperly stored guns in homes across America, theirs or that of a playmate, classmate, friend; galvanizing a movement with rallies and walkout protests, organizing a trip to their state capitol to confront their lawmakers in person, standing in the congressional balcony as Florida initially voted down so much as bringing a gun bill to the floor, staring down senators and NRA spokespeople at a nationally televised town hall, initiating a call and response type dynamics with crowds saying to “politicians who sit in their gilded house and senate seats funded by the NRA telling us nothing could have ever been done to prevent this…we call BS,” “they say that tougher gun laws do not decrease gun violence…we call BS,” listing NRA talking point after NRA talking point, “they say a good guy with a gun stops a bad guy with a gun…we call BS,” “they say guns are just tools like knives and are as dangerous as cars…we call BS,” “they say that no laws could have been able to prevent the hundreds of senseless tragedies that have occurred…we call BS,” they say “that us kids don’t know what we’re talking about, that we’re too young to understand how the government works…we call BS.” Creating a list similar to Martin Luther’s 95 theses regarding regulations needed for guns, shortening it to 9 at first glance uncomplicated and majority supported by the American people; measures aimed at making everyone safer while honoring both people’s rights and constitutional traditions embodied via the second amendment. 1. Ban semi-automatic weapons that fire high-velocity rounds; Lawrence O’Donnell starkly explaining the difference between an AR 15 and a hand gun, how fast and how many bullets are aimed at people when it fires, followed by a doctor who published a piece in The Atlantic describing the devastation done by AR 15 bullets and a handgun contrasting parkland victims and the airport shooting noting all of them lived because their vital organs were perhaps lacerated (medical jargon for a minimal to severe cut) versus shredded, turn to soup, rendered an unrecognizable blob of tissue that used to be something humans cannot live without. 2. Ban accessories that simulate automatic weapons namely the bump stock and high capacity magazines holding a ridiculous number of bullets capable of firing in rapid succession no matter which one you’re using. 3. Establish a database of gun sales and universal background checks citing the DMV does the same thing with license plates and car owners while gun sales are restricted to paper records as a matter of law 4. Change privacy laws to allow mental healthcare providers to communicate with law enforcement; parkland students believing this critical communication breakdown facilitated Cruz’s access to guns and the school. 5. Close gun show and secondhand sales loopholes, magnets for people who know they cannot pass a background check an easy source for people too impatient, too impulsive to wait for legitimate channels for buying guns. 6. Allow the CDC to make recommendations for gun reform. 7. Raise the firearm purchase age to 21, 8. Dedicate more funds to mental health research and professionals, 9. Increase funding for school security. Yet, there is a reason they say the devil is in the details and that phrase remains relevant today; zero question ban the assault rifle as it is all too popular with persons preoccupied with mass shootings, utter no brainer ban the bump stock, forget if it was only used once, once is one incident too many in this case, ban high velocity round dispending fire arms no matter their classification. But, there’s that word and the complicated caveats again, mentally calculate what you tangibly achieve when Cho ended 32 lives with an assortment of hand guns, Loughner snuffed out 6 with the same, Aaron Alexis shot up the Washington navy yard hiding a sawed off shotgun in a duffle bag, the Washington mall shooter killed 5 with a long rifle, Oklahoma mall shooter opting for a similar style ending 9 lives, Jason Brian Dalton opted for his handguns not his larger rifle only switching between 2 of them because his first malfunctioned. It is with a heavy heart I regret to inform the parkland students and newer readers it does little good to pass federal law mandating universal background checks against a background check system that isn’t universal and was never meant to be; felony convictions, domestic violence convictions in one database, orders of protection also preventing legal gun purchase somewhere else, no fly zone in yet one more location and no federal statute mandating its inclusion in those restricted from buying firearms on the basis of mental health, what merger mental health stipulations there are: those involuntarily committed to a mental health facility or deemed incompetent by the a court. States’ rights a doubled edged sword effective in refusing to deport non-criminal, non-violent, minor offending immigrants, been here for years/decades regardless their immigration status, withholding contracts to companies willing to work on the border wall, legalizing medical and/or recreational marijuana, weaning us off fossil fuels for cleaner energy, Obama care, abortion, upholding LGBT rights, facets Bill Maher articulates best; honestly dangerous when it permits states not to catalog/database persons unable to buy gun for the 2 mental health reasons written into law leaving it up to the discretion of individual gun store owners circa one in Ohio hailed a hero for refusing to sell to a young man who seemed off. Good thing since he’d recently stormed out of his 4 year university vowing to return with a gun, had been involuntarily committed to a mental health facility in the past, lying on the application form. It is with a weight bogging down my soul, because I too remember being that young, honestly as if it were yesterday, truthfully it almost was, and I hated it when adults dismissed my problem solving ideas, used their words to push me away from trying to see if whatever might work, I reiterate to parkland students what I detailed in my last mass shooting piece in January this year requiring background checks for every gun sale, less gun show and more person to person friend buying from friend, acquaintance doesn’t just present a legal quagmire around states’ rights and how you implement such a thing, but opens the door to impotent corruption as an intermediary is needed to keep John Q. Public from having access to that kind of information on relatives or fellow citizens, intermediaries endowed with incredible power basically allowing them to allow or disallow gun purchase based on whether they know them or not, like them or not spelling out a different problem. Much the same conundrum when A- repealing the law prohibiting a gun sales registry and finding people who can next be trusted doing the data entry on such information; B-compiling the subsequently desired personal details on all gun owners will doubtlessly ignite leftist progressives (their closest political age group) upset by NSA spying a few years ago, decrying proposed bills, now signed law virtually eliminating internet privacy, rolling back permissions needed to share and sell your data by advertisers especially in light of the Cambridge Analytica Facebook scandal. Sure you might get away with pairing gun serial numbers and their owners up to infractions of gun laws, past criminal offenses, only real fight from the NRA, because it mirrors criminal records something long established governments, law enforcement are allowed to keep; getting into the status of the gun owner’s mental health and physical capability unless and until they have been deemed unfit to own guns on mental health grounds, red flag warning laws become standard putting evidence before a judge to remove someone’s gnus and there was adverse action on person X for duration Y or ordered to forfeit their weapons temporarily pending the outcome of court cases related to violent crimes they are accused of screams too much in the other direction. C- whether discussing the background check system, linking or consolidating various lists of persons who are criminals, suspected terrorists, too mentally ill to get guns, have domestic abuse charges or orders of protection against them barring gun ownership there remains the years if not decades old backlog on top of the ever mounting pile of records amassing currently. Continuing, assuming you can find people appropriate for such highly sensitive data entry who/how are you going to pay for it in the gargantuan quantity needed; at the same time universal background checks create a related problem for gun sellers particularly the smaller their store, concerns they can’t afford costs of running multiple checks against so many systems meaning, even with a law it won’t be followed by sellers who agree, forget the ones who don’t. I am an American citizen who keeps waiting for a parkland student, an inspired k-12, college student or equally inspired adult to merely propose an innovative solution, none forthcoming. Also incredulously worth asking why students who just emerged from a traumatic event should be forced to do all the heavy lifting, the burden should all be on their shoulders; there are other computer coders, app builders, adult data entry persons, officials who know systems and background check issues inside and out, where are they to help, brainstorm innovations, tell them aspects laid out here so they don’t look like fools making speeches, commentators like myself aren’t hated for bashing them, telling them truths they couldn’t necessarily know. Just as YouTube’s pledge to take down video tutorials showing how to assemble gun kits bought off the internet may initially sound like a step in the right direction, still not only are you engaging in slippery slope censorship causing substantial problems down the road, you also rob future students 20 years plus down the road of an easy resource showcasing how it was for a school report on the violence that used to be, once gun assembly kits are no longer available assuming we get there; presently wildly assuming someone buying a kit doesn’t have the inherent know how to figure it out, sans video. Hardly up for debate mental health and law enforcement should communicate and communicate well; perplexing is where the parkland activists got the idea HIPAA (America’s mental health personal medical records privacy law) is what prevented this either in Nikolas Cruz’s case or any school/mass shooter seen to date; it was Virginia Tech’s misunderstanding of privacy law that kept shooter Cho in class, James Holmes’ psychiatrist never felt restricted when she contacted the school’s threat assessment team or his mother, in fact following the law stipulating doctors, mental health professionals are obligated to report patient confessions to crime, reasonable suspicion they might imminently commit crime. Another fact, Cruz’s case represents the exact opposite; when social services evaluators directed to the Cruz home tried to get a better sense of him and his issues, they found the school police officer uncooperative (see the NY Times article in the following paragraph for more in depth details) Similarly of course the CDC should be making recommendations on gun control, gun ownership policies, it was wrong for them to ever be hamstrung in the first place; though they probably won’t tell people anything gun control advocates didn’t already know and that politicians, lawmakers have a proven track record of not listening to regardless. Absolutely raise the age to purchase guns from 18 to 21 across the board, statewide/nationwide, in no way should you have to be 21 to buy a handgun but be able to buy an AR15 assault rifle, called a weapon of war at 18 perfectly legally; however, understand while it is common sense gun legislation it isn’t the panacea you almost desperately want it to be, it would have stopped your life altering shooter but not a host of others. Several have taken guns from their own homes, relative’s homes sans buying them to commit their deadly rampages whether you go back to the Jonesboro duo, the Pearl Mississippi shooter, the Oklahoma mall shooter, or more recent mass violence; Adam Lanza didn’t need to own guns as his mother did and regularly took him to the shooting range in an effort to draw him out, engage him in something he liked, attempting to connect, Christopher Shawn Harper Mercer yes owned guns but had access to plenty owned by his mother where he likewise lived. Mere weeks after Parkland a Maryland high school student took a gun from his father, brought it to school and shot his former girlfriend who’d recently broken up with him and an innocent bystander who appears to have just gotten in the way, finally turning the gun on himself. Worth remembering Seung-Hui Cho was over 21 when he killed 32 at Virginia Tech, Jared Loughner was over 21 when he shot Gabrielle Giffords at a political rally held in a supermarket parking lot, succeeding in killing 6 others, James Holmes was over 21 when he killed 12 and injured 70 inside a Colorado movie theater, Eliot Roger was 22 and used a combination of guns, knives and his own car to kill people, Harper Mercer 26 when he execution style blew holes in the heads of his community college classmates, Dylan Roof was 21, gifted a gun on his 21st birthday, independent of if it was the one he brought into Emanuel AME church or not. Multiple added names to the mass shooter epidemic list were well past of age arguably entering old age Robert Dear who attacked a Planned Parenthood, John Russel Houser who shot up a Lafayette Louisiana movie theater, Kalamazoo shooter Dalton killing people as he drove around an Uber, James T. Hodgkinson who opened fire on that congressional baseball practice nearly killing congressman Steve Scalise. Agreed more funds allocated to school security, Marjory Stoneman Douglas though a glaring example of lackadaisical attitudes and mindsets where security just isn’t made a priority (see next paragraph for full details); compare facts surrounding their shooting to the disgruntled former doctor hiding his AR style rifle under a lab coat; hospital security didn’t see him, common areas full of patients didn’t see anything to alarm them and alert staff, subsequent interviews with co-workers revealing a familiar pattern, he gave hints about what he wanted to do which no one reported either to police or hospital administration, things that can’t be fixed with dollars. We can limit ammo counts bought at one time, the size of ammo clips legally sold, a subheading surprisingly absent from their demands, though predictably forthcoming since they have stated plainly their actions are just the beginning and how hastily early events were pulled together, then you are left combatting events happening at a Waffle House in Tennessee 2 weekends ago; a man who showed up at the restaurant holding an AR-15, wearing a jacket and nothing else, spraying, bullets killing 4 confronted when he stopped to reload, reloading not a new phenomenon, nor stopping shooters when they stop to do so. Information reveals details we’ve come to expect history of mental health issues, run ins with the law; he wasn’t supposed to have guns after trespassing on Whitehouse grounds requesting to see president Trump authorities seized 4 guns in his possession, eventually returning them to his father a lawful gun permit holder in the state, warned to keep them secure and away from his son, stating he would comply only to give them back to him sometime within the last year. That father will likely face charges since it is against the law to knowingly give guns to a person you are aware isn’t allowed to possess them following all the other girlfriends and helping persons who bought guns for those who killed; point being, there isn’t a whole lot to be done until the tragic has taken place. During the listening session held by president Trump at the Whitehouse a parkland survivor talked tearfully about the best friend he lost then the story he heard on the news within the last day if not that morning centering around an 18 year old somewhere in America able to easily purchase an AR-15 identical make, model as the shooter used to terrorize him, fellow classmates on a day meant for celebrating love, with an expired ID. Transaction not seeming right to me either upon first hearing until I pondered what an ID tells anyone who sees it name, birthdate, address, height, weight; so, provided the ID’s not fake, (surely gun sellers like those offering tobacco and alcohol trained to spot them) it’s expiration should have nothing to do with buying anything. Disconcerting on a far greater level, described sale took 5 minutes meaning whatever background check was done, if it all was minimal, probably not going beyond the state, potentially not farther than the county, maxing out at the tristate area. Pivoting to more frequent, local news making types of gun violence, looking to other countries and how they’ve prevented mass gun violence before it ever managed to take hold, viewers seeing the gun shop in England probably wonder how it’s not broken into like a jewelry store by someone who wants a gun versus thousands or millions in expensive wears they plan to fence for large sums of cash; gun stealing hardly abhorrent or a deterrent if people are mentally ill, criminally minded enough to want to commit violence, violence with a gun. Scrutinizing mandated gun safes for British citizens cleared to own a gun after formal background checks and healthcare provider sign offs confirming persons with mental health problems, ever having suffered depression aren’t getting guns would be of limited effectiveness here; certainly in keeping young children and their friends from accidently shooting themselves, their playmates/classmates with a parent’s gun, not to be dismissed but that too not entirely fool proof if my best friend‘s almost 4 year old is anything to go by, unlocking his mom’s smartphone after seeing her do it a few times knowing his numbers close completing his first year of preschool. Thus wholly ineffective at stopping that Maryland high school shooter well past old enough to watch their parent open such a safe and learn the combination, would have done little to stop the Central Michigan University student who killed both his parents with a gun, again owned by his father perfectly capable of ascertaining the combination, though he actually retrieved from his father’s car. Utterly stupid to call something garnered from their own home stealing, nevertheless that’s how one Salon author categorized it when writing on the topic comparing shootings done with parents, relatives guns; why there is merit to definitively differentiating between kinds of gun violence, because each carries varied and unique solutions. Don’t get anyone wrong, any life you save from gun violence, accidental shootings exc. is a victory— until a few short years from now after the laws, guidelines and actions wanted by this group of brave young people is settled in place, woven into the fabric of our nation a new batch of young people stands before adults, making impassioned speeches to adults; except the person who got a gun and made up their tragedy had a record barring him from legal gun ownership but it was old and lost in the backlog, was sitting on an information, criminal record, domestic abuse, order of protection pile to be imputed within days, the perpetrator learned the combination to their parent/guardian’s gun safe, found the key opening it at will, why removing ‘their need’ to do this represents a more permanent solve. To say nothing of why some are never locked up rather just hidden where parents think their kids don’t know the location or won’t find them, because they bought it for protection and when they are threatened there is no guarantee they can remember a combination, fumbling with keys or loading the firearm costs precious seconds in which you could be dead, why some are frequently stored loaded. And, whatever gun control measures they manage to achieve, manage to be achieved in the coming short months, years must be the right, nuanced ones otherwise like universal, more citizens covered healthcare, if we don’t get them right, things slowly go back the way they were it will be 100 years before society, having tried the new, clinging to their guns all the harder, will let us try again.
Aiming toward curtailing mass violence specifically, work on sharpening our focus to what can we do, we can get serious about security exactly what one victim’s parent, whose news reported screaming rant asking just that question, about where was surveillance, metal detectors at every entrance to the school, resource/security officers in every building, directed at president Trump telling him what he can do, demanding he do something, wants. Contrary to response pieces post the Valentine’s Day shooting, metal detectors students asked at a different school said would make them feel safe, to the inexplicable surprise of their teacher. Stoneman Douglas high school did have a form of surveillance on some level because event audio has police, SWAT team conversations saying they see a person fitting the shooter’s description on school security cameras headed in a particular direction; why weren’t they actively using it to keep a database of names, where relevant and available, photos of people not allowed on campus, either those who’ve been expelled or would otherwise be arrested for trespassing and have it running against visitors and non-student or staff persons on campus at any given time. So that when Nikolas Cruz got out of that Uber with a guitar case hiding an AR15 the person(s) also watching that surveillance immediately saw him, knew he wasn’t allowed there and intercepted him before he could carry out his plans; at least he would have had to barrel through them to hurt anyone else. Following the lead of the parkland father Fred Guttenberg who lost his daughter calling for states, officials to fortify school buildings saying it shouldn’t be this easy to walk into a school campus and do what this young man did; sentiments echoed partially by survivor David Hogg, interviewed on how he was holding up after what happened, about the movement him and his fellow classmates started. Sitting on MSNBC’s Morning Joe and post calling out congress asking why he should go back to school when government won’t do its work why should he, elaborating that the glass shattered with bullets, or to enter rooms and rescue students isn’t being replaced with bullet resistant varieties to make it harder next time, potentially save lives, provide students a sense of security that was just decimated. Locks that were broken aren’t being replaced with ones that lock from the inside so teachers don’t have to risk their lives to secure their doors, many of them breaking shooter/intruder protocol opening their doors to scrambling students simply looking for a place to hide, looking for cover being initially confused by the pulled fire alarm; building on what Hogg told the morning show, a key fob or other means to open/unlock doors from the inside if they see students stranded unprotected. And there are schools who have indeed taken these security precautions; Indiana has the most secure schools in the country housing intercom boxes in all classrooms directly patched into police to transmit information, deliver the status of their classroom safe or not, key fobs that lock doors from the inside and can trigger school-wide security alarms if they see a shooter, it happens in their classroom, there is a colored line on the floor demarcating where students should hide behind so they can’t be seen from the door by a shooter, drills held regularly. Bullet resistant classroom doors and whole school surveillance systems work in tandem to limit who a shooter can get to and so they can track shooter/intruders in real time; smoke cannons that can be deployed into otherwise empty hallways to flush out shooters/intruders, confuse them until police can move in. Hearing the documented 2 parents demanding sweeping security changes in the name of all kids not singularly theirs, we can get over the idea of the metal detector as a sign of our emerging gestapo police state because they have majoritively been used in urban schools on black and brown students, rather seeing them as a tool in our arsenal of student and general public safety; metal detectors we walk through every time we visit select places say a court house, why because once upon a time someone brought a gun/weapon into a court house to harm a witness, a judge, and to prevent that from happening again metal detectors were installed. Often used in government, prominent buildings due to their being sought after targets, football stadiums in California, detectors that should have been in place at the Washington navy yard well before we came to know the name Aaron Alexis, because of what it was and what people working there did. Directly after parkland there was the Alabama school shooting, thought to be an accident, where a student brought the gun to show it off, it discharged hitting at least one victim; key, they had metal detectors but they weren’t turned on, why just one of those perplexing questions seemingly forever without answer. Going back to that justifiably angry parkland father, applying his suggestion to the entire nation fortifying all public buildings; metal detectors that could have tipped off hotel staff something was wrong about the cases of unknown items Steven Paddock was carting to his room in the middle of the night, metal detectors that at least might have slowed down movie theater shooter James Holmes, told theater goers there was a problem especially when they become a fixture and people comprehend what that beeping sound might mean. Detectors capable of stopping that man planting pipe bombs in a Sam’s Club as well as deterring the Weis market shooter before him. Metal detectors would have alerted administrators at another school previously of the knives in one student’s bag, requisite search revealing the gasoline and firecrackers too (thankfully their plan thwarted anyway); detectors capable of alerting people to the knives, pipe bomb components and nail embedded baseball bat one man had, aerial photos suggesting he meant to attack a school, crucial in circumventing people like him absent criminal record, psychiatric history, prior behaviors that would put him on any government, law enforcement’s radar. Basic, been around for years technology that would have detected the knives a parkland student brought to school without the prison like measures now implemented for security reasons including only permitting clear backpacks students point out serve as window dressing designed to give a false sense of security as opposed to real change; protesting by filling it with tampons others putting $1.05 tags on them symbolizing how much money Florida senator Marco Rubio has taken from the NRA divided by the number of Stoneman Douglas students accompanied by signs #never again, this bag probably costs more than my life. Though it isn’t prison like to be mandated to wear an ID identifying you as a current student, who belongs there, the adults around you as teachers, support staff, the janitor who belongs there; considering blending in is how Cruz initially escaped once his massacre was complete, blending in how the Aztec New Mexico high school shooter entered the building then the bathroom to assemble his gun and open fire following a number of shooters, intruders who’ve done the same. Opposite absurd insisting visitors to the school go through a special gate, different words for using a visitor’s entrance/parking lot, what this student is probably reacting to is attitudes and overreactions in the wake of 14 dead students and 3 dead teachers; said student would be disheartened to know they do the same thing in Israel posting armed guards at entrances to school their sole purpose to keep students safe from the constant threat they live under as an entire country. On U.S. soil, in American schools maybe we use more school resource officers, but the right, properly trained ones polar opposite personalities capable of earning the nickname ‘officer slam,’ an officer who thinks handcuffing an 8 year old post being kick in the shin at after a bathroom trip is appropriate; school resource officer not being an off ramp dumping ground for cops who couldn’t pass muster anywhere else, those who wish to lord their authority over small beings. Maybe we don’t build sprawling open campuses like Stoneman Douglas, solving 2 problems at once seeing as one Baltimore school hired a resource officer due to the sheer size of their campus not any looming problems already in existence only for him to be caught on video slapping, kicking and berating a student, his partner looking on yet doing nothing to stop him. We don’t paradoxically punish trained SWAT officers who when they heard the calls go out, diverted from their non-priority task to jump into the melee; what should be hailed heroic actions garnering them suspension. Perhaps we look at what else was/is going on beyond sidestepping default topics of gun control, sparse interjections of mental illness to examine Stoneman Douglas specifically, Stoneman Douglas who has a serious security problem made even more horrifyingly apparent after the shooting than before or during it; in addition to the school resource officer who didn’t go in as students were shot up and died, not with guns blazing possibly injuring innocent bystanders and adding to the melee, chaos but to put his own eyes on the situation, assess it and usher any vulnerable students you find/see to safety. Parents and students both angered by the revelation saying in part this is what you signed up for; disgusted by his actions, the complete lack thereof, students baffled he didn’t know how to act like a police officer when it was called for. There was the resource officer on campus who was found asleep in his patrol car parked behind the building where the shooting took place, no longer in use, awoken by students passing by, there was the student who then brought knives to school, readers capable of guessing it wasn’t to defend themselves from the next potential school shooter, another remitted to mental health after making threats against the school; still a short while later Nikolas Cruz’s brother was next caught trespassing on school grounds. And to cap off what can only be called insanity, coming up on one month after the shooting snuffing out 17 lives, pointed out 5 of them in their freshman year of high school, only to find a teacher at Marjory Stoneman Douglas, one of the select few who supported president Trump’s idea to arm teachers in the interest of keeping schools and students safe, was arrested after leaving his personal, legally owned hand gun in a beachside bathroom for a homeless person to pick it up and fire it, bullet luckily hitting a wall; funnily ironic we believe it here but no one wanted to believe illegal immigrant Sanchez, arrested and tied for killing Kate Steinle when he claimed the same thing despite reports of how many federal worker guns are lost or stolen yet unreported—begging the question what the hell is/was going on at Stoneman Douglas high school? Totally divorced from any of these equally common sense security measures you have articles bemoaning our times now include active shooter drills, which is the 21st century equivalent of asking why we have fire drills versus regionally appropriate weather drills for earthquake, tornado, natural disaster events like tsunami in Hawaii, our island territories; the former had because accidents can cause fire, human error, bad equipment can cause fire, so when those things inevitably happen students and staff knowing what to do can save lives, it reinforces what parents should be teaching children about what to do if there is ever a fire at home, any place they are staying, visiting, happen to be in when fire breaks out. Shooter drills, easily transposed with the word intruder drills repeatedly lauded as a positive; teachers say such practice, knowledge helped them keep students as safe as possible, has been credited with saving student lives in the not so distant past. Addressing the common lead up always seen weeks, months repeatedly years predating various categories of mass shootings, we can stop letting periphery professionals/agencies off the hook, we are far from the days of the first school shootings in America, 19 years out from the game changer, branded in memory shooting Columbine, well removed from the days when only postal workers went berserk and committed violence on their job, years out from the first mass shooting perpetrated on a public space not a school or where the shooter was employed; it’s high time we act like it. Examining the totality of information had on him, IEP (individual education plan) documents form 2015 indicating he attended a specialized school for those with emotional disturbances, mental illness and/or behavioral problems, reports stating he was making progress but still became distracted when the issue of guns or the armed forces came up, what the hell was he doing at Marjory Stoneman Douglas in the first place? Because while his mental health/school records may have been sealed from the public to protect a juvenile, they weren’t hidden from his new school yet he was allowed to transfer anyway rather than remain where he was in specialized education, being transferred to a specialized high school equipped to handle his needs. Error after error, once again a profoundly mentally ill and potentially dangerous teen was expelled from school only to be turned out into the community absent warnings; expelled from school for what important because it represents another sign missed and dismissed, allegedly he threated a girl he previously dated and fought another student over the relationship, threats reported to the school and the fight caught on video. Police received 20 calls concerning Cruz, the Cruz home or wherever he was staying post his mother’s death November last year detailing fights with his brother, hitting his mother and scaring the neighbors willing to take him in but law enforcement did nothing, he had a history of hurting small animals, trying to corner and kill a squirrel with rocks long before he was old enough to get a gun, but redundancy setting in law enforcement repeatedly did nothing. Here is where you’ll doubtlessly hear the laundry list of limits they operate under, the reality they had no legal grounds to seize his guns, but while the question has since been asked prompting discussions on red flag warning laws, a process by which a person can legally be taken to court by family, neighbors, medical/mental health professionals and based on evidence a judge render a decision on temporarily removing someone’s fire arms, that isn’t want the parkland students or the majority of the American population is asking; they are asking why he wasn’t remitted to a 72 hour psych hold, why he wasn’t hauled before a judge and remitted to state mental health even if it was only for 90 day intervals permitted in Florida. We can amend the law to say any and all torture of animals is a crime, misdemeanor or felony based on age of person and severity of action, frequency of offense; no Cenk Uygur another word for the killing of small animals is not hunting in a residential area where it isn’t safe to be firing guns, killing small animals the way he did with rocks an established precursor to serial killers and mass shooters. If not changing the laws themselves then the sentencing guidelines, recommendations pertaining to select offenses identified as precursors to mass violence, why couldn’t they have put him before a judge even on misdemeanor animal cruelty or domestic assault for hitting his mother ordering mental health eval and treatment, greater extent evaluation and following the recommendation of that mental health professional, facilitating merger and/or coordination with his existing treatment providers; if the woman in video below can be hauled into court over a domestic issue with her daughter to be hassled by a judge with her litany of health problems, be held in jail and denied medication only to die days post release, Nikolas Cruz could have been brought in on misdemeanor domestic assault remitted to juvenile detention if nothing else. The judge did it (mental health diversion) with the Washington mall shooter on his domestic assault against his girlfriend, her mistake, not including guns as something he had to abstain from, or forfeit, to defer prosecution; Esteban Santiago was also ordered to anger management on identical charges in Alaska before flying to Florida culminating in an airport shooting. We can change laws not centering around gun but the classification of crimes to prevent what happened last week in Vermont when a thwarted school shooter could not be charged with felonies under their law and while being removed from legally buying or owning guns, mandated to seek mental health treatment he will get out of jail, a ‘new normal’ striking fear into the high school he threated. Why, because under a 100 year old Vermont law they virtually split hairs when it comes to planning and attempting a crime, planning is not attempting therefore he is charged with misdemeanors only likely to return to a school if not that particular one. Returning to the saga of Stoneman Douglas, the FBI was informed not once but twice, possibly 3 times about Cruz and it didn’t do any good; despite posting an online comment about becoming a professional school shooter under his real name they couldn’t find him to question him, fair enough. Yet the second call placed to the public access line giving more information including that he was about to explode was never forwarded to local FBI personnel for them to investigate; students aware and having reported his comments to shoot up the school, known for bringing knives to school selling them out of his lunch box, previously suspended for bringing bullet casings to school, on top of threatening the girl he once dated he stalked a former friend and threatened fellow students on social media plus the disturbing comments about becoming a school shooter. Child services investigated the Cruz home after he posted a video on snapchat cutting his arms, knew he was obsessed with, had an affinity for guns, but didn’t know what he wanted one for, failing to ask the crucial question of if he planned to shoot up his school, previous school, planned to target another public space. Closing the case after determining the cuts were not inflicted by his mother, he was experiencing no signs of abuse/neglect at her hand or anyone’s at home, was enrolled in school, receiving in home mental health services, prescribed and taking medication. Prompting the exclamation what do you mean you didn’t ask, assuming he doesn’t answer you using a clear yes or no, say anything at all responding to you, you remain able to gage his demeanor, ascertain by the look on his face, his nonverbal reactions if you’ve hit the nail on the head, as it were, determining his possible current/future plans. Being in the post Sandy hook, Adam Lanza era child services had a further reason to ask such questions based on what they found during the Sandyhook report unveiling both Lanza’s school and mother were more interested in accommodating and enabling him rather than treating him; something they had an obligation to investigate and prevent or forward it to the appropriate social services entity to observe for public safety. Was this mother in denial, was Nikolas getting the best, maximum mental health help available commiserate with his diagnoses, were any barriers present associated with his mother, things she didn’t understand about clinical findings concerning her son or, often happening, a lack of knowledge about resources they could take advantage of, resources such an organization would be ideal to refer them? Because, according to the New York Times Cruz’s mother told social services he didn’t have a gun only an airsoft pellet gun she took away from him when he violated rules about being limited to backyard shooting practice contradicting classmates who spoke about YouTube videos featuring Cruz showing a double digit number of guns on a bed, a hamper in the background indicating how normal this was to him, how crazy it was to fellow students while still attending Stoneman Douglas, records lining up he bought his controversial AR15 days post his expulsion spring 2017, yet his mother didn’t die until months later in November; whereas the last people he lived with bought him a gun safe, stipulating if he stayed with them he would keep his firearms there, homeowner believing he had the only key. Facts chipping away at Stoneman Douglas students who passionately say it wasn’t the FBI who should have placed barriers from him and guns rather persons he lived with and neighbors; morphing an interesting dichotomy knowing their own reports went nowhere in effecting the deadly outcome. Circling back to social services, stated feelings of being depressed all the added reason to press harder for an answer on why he wanted a gun, weighing the possibility for a suicide attempt since they were there investigating self harm done on social media. One worker found the school police officer to be uncooperative, school counselors and personnel who dealt with Cruz daily wondered if their finding was premature, so why didn’t you talk to them, no indication privacy law was a factor preventing aforementioned conversations, though managing to make it into the parkland student manifesto of changes, no mention of conversations with his current mental health professionals either, a critically negligent oversight. Moreover if authorities could ‘Baker Act’ one of the students brining knives to school, making threats online post the shooting they could have done so beforehand with Cruz himself but for unknown reasons didn’t, noting he had a history of past Baker Act attempts; bolstering evidence he merited reevaluation beyond the child services, vulnerable adult with mental illness social services visit(s), due to his recently turning 18, conclusions he was stable and well enough at home, not hospitalized, despite his autism, ADHD and depression diagnostics, were based on him living with his mother, attending school, medicated for his ADHD and receiving in home mental health services. Except that was at least a year before what unfolded at Stoneman Douglas by which time he had lost his mother, was living with a neighboring family, had been expelled from school, unknown if he was still seeing any counselor. Agency missteps and missed warning signs concepts not stopping at Nikolas Cruz, the CMU student from paragraph 2 was taken to the hospital the night before on suspected drug overdose/reaction, neither police nor the hospital ever once thinking mental illness/mental health episode, apparently released; police encountered the YouTube headquarters shooter in her car asleep near the complex, having been reported missing by her family and having been told she might be there because she has a beef with the video sharing giant never asking in depth enough questions of her or her family to determine if she was a threat, no substantial attempt to get past their accent, questionable facility with English to ensure they understood and could fully answer their questions. The FBI knew pretty much what they were dealing with when Esteban Santiago wandered into their office talking about hearing voices and being forced to watch ISIS videos, dutifully remitted him to local mental health who let him go after 4 days going so far as returning his guns no less; listed cases comprising only the most recent flub reel carried out by people whose job holds various aspects of keeping us, the public, safe. And we’re talking relentlessly about the gun, almost exclusively about the gun, young people too have been co-opted into talking about the gun nearly absent anything else, calling for measures on guns and measures on all of nothing else. I am an American citizen just like the parkland students and I am as tired of that as they are of thoughts and prayers; tired scapegoats of video games, no bible, religion, Christianity in school and the prevalence of pornography redundantly blamed for such shootings, mass violence sans little evidence of said truth versus overwhelming evidence of other things, the gun not being the most significant one.
Changing tactics on how America confronts gun violence, we can get ruthlessly realistic about what we can’t do, instead focusing on knowing our limits, operating within them; no governor Cuomo almost guaranteed you are not regulating gun sales on the internet, not with so called ‘ghost guns’ unregistered and 100% legal, gun kits that can be bought online sans and circumventing background checks to be assembled at home, no matter how good your state’s laws are. Realistically we can’t treat guns like cars in restricting semi-automatic guns the way we did fully automatic ones back in the 20’s concerning tommy guns currently having a lengthy process to own one, permit fines, law enforcement member vouching for you as a person, filling out a verified questionnaire weeding out people with any criminal record, any drug use, mental health issue, paying a 200 dollar permit fee if you want to own one as a novelty, antique less for logistics of processing said paperwork lacking personnel, backlogs and lags in the background check system and more for it creating an even larger black market for guns than we already have rivalling the prohibition era for alcohol with the devastating side effect of creating the mob. People who are bent on killing someone, fed up with the hugely long waiting lists, as discussed in paragraph 2 will steal one or many, talked about later in this paragraph will chose another weapon, means turned into a weapon by virtue of how it’s used, prime example the knife. Equally we can’t license and insure gun owners the same way we do car owners and have it be anything called effective toward stopping violence, because it isn’t effective pertaining to making driving/cars on the road safer either; first guns have serial numbers the way cars have VIN (vehicle identification numbers) which can be filed off, watchers of cop and forensic science shows know well, or hasn’t the Salon author linked below caught a CSI Miami binge-a-thon (locate WE TV on your cable package dial and get back to us); VINs a little more complicated and involved to duplicate, alter or forge but doable putting stolen vehicles on the road driven by unsuspecting drivers, nothing worse at thwarting the law than criminal ingenuity. Second the idea of licensing gun owners the way we do car owners on competence sounds great, sensible and a problem solver, until you look around you on the road; how many people have you seen driving through local streets, traversing highways whom you wonder when they last passed a driving test forget how, well surpassing merely distracted driving. Locally I know of persons who went to a neighboring town to take their driving test because it was easier in a smaller town, so not difficult to deduce, certain gun ranges would be friendlier to license seekers; here again is where knowing someone or someone knowing you could impact getting such a license positively or negatively and diminish the effectiveness there might be in professionals catching “off kilter” persons like Nikolas Cruz. Speaking of which, driver’s ed. has gone the way of the dodo, parents filling in the gap though driving experts say it isn’t the best way cautioning teens pick up their parent’s bad habits, yet no moves to reinstate drivers ed. hubs nationwide; and, relating that to this gun tracking ‘solution’ we all remember the shooting instructor who let a 9 year old fire an oozie resulting in his death, goes without saying we don’t want that gun rage certifying anyone’s firearm competence. Subject being guns versus cars, what are the odds they demonstrate competence, they buy all the things you must to get their gun and promptly throw out everything they learned; parallel example go back to America’s roads and the people on them. Thirdly how many times have we heard news stories of persons driving without a license, driving on a suspended license, apprehended for their 6th plus DUI, cars being something needed for transportation outfitted with breathalyzers for DUI offenders only for a mother to get her 11 year old to blow into it, a more recent case the 2015 Florida mom coercing/teaching her 4 year old to do the same thing, a 2016 Oklahoma mom asking all her kids multiple times to do so, and the winner for most innovative albeit dangerous way beat a breathalyzer equipped car, the man who use a raccoon to activate his vehicle, left the passed out animal in the back seat only to be attack some while later needing a rabies shot, but sure let’s apply principals of regulating cars to guns— and let the mayhem begin. Fourthly flowing into the next problematic piece of implementation with the Thom Hartmann school of gun regulation, similarly how many motorists are driving right now, costing the nation millions if not bullions, without required insurance that is too expensive and adding another thing to be insured in a system of scam racket insurance whether its private healthcare, identity theft protection or home owners insurance that doesn’t cover floods, majority, never mind full cost of rebuild as California mudslide and fire victims found out, is as much of a really dumb idea as Emma Gonzalez thought the Trump administration rolling back the ability of the FBI to cross check social security records for the severely mentally ill happened to be. Wrapping up this section, who is enforcing this, who’s going to come knocking on your door to seize your gun if you let the insurance/permit lapse; they don’t do that with cars, usually finding out when you’ve caused an accident leveling additional tickets if you are sans insurance, proper tagging and registration, only putting you before a judge if you have no license, a suspended or expired license, significant fatal injuries were involved or it represents a habitual pattern. The repeated claim of police reform advocates is we have long asked them to do too much to be social workers, drug counselors, defacto family planners, child support enforcers, beat cops who should be seeing to the health of neighborhoods becoming traffic cops (think Walter Scott’s malfunctioning 3rd break light and speculations by family he ran fearing jail time for back child support); even the ATF (division of alcohol tobacco and firearms) would be hard pressed to keep up rendering you right back where you started. No we can’t sell the American people on whole population removal of guns for the ordinary person on the self-protection, family protection element alone something the parkland students’ current and foreseeable future activism isn’t pushing for and doesn’t want. Gun control advocates often think good guy with a gun mindsets are solely American and come from regurgitated NRA talking points people can’t help but hear and on some level internalize; ideas backed up by the Toronto van attack suspect who was found to be part of an ‘incel’ group (standing for involuntarily celibate) openly praising Eliot Roger who killed 6 at his community college upset about the way women treated him, continually ignored him. But, in that reasoning is discounted experience, take the band Eagles of Death Metal whose front man spoke with NPR 3 months after the terror attack on the Bataclan music hall to harshly criticize French gun laws as they returned to finish their concert; his declaration that the only thing stopping them was some of the bravest men he’s seen in his life charging head first into the face of death with their firearms. Later commenting the only way my mind has been changed is maybe that until nobody has guns everybody has to have them came from his experience with violence; said front man who has gone after parkland students calling their March for Our Lives pathetic and them vile abusers of the dead, later still deleting the controversial Instagram post. Nor would banning, eliminating or subjecting online gun sales to universal background checks (virtually impossible without changing the structure of the internet rendering it as censored as it is in dictatorial countries like China and North Korea, recall the YouTube reference earlier) prevent the criminal element or otherwise desperate and/or deranged people for securing one off the black market; where exactly do people think the guns in Chicago came from when you can buy one at the corner store, literally making their own with the proliferation and availability of 3D printers that can yes also make guns. Lawsuits pushing for damages from online gun sellers who sold guns to someone later committing a crime, resulting in a death or mass violence are limitedly effective even after taking into account the Bush 43 era law greatly curtaining who can and cannot be sued restricted to those who set up sites, scenarios directly designed to break or skirt the law. No we will never be able to ban all the things people might turn into a weapon whether it’s acid in Europe, crossbows and machetes in Spain, meat cleavers and craft tools, long knives in China; parkland survivor Emma Gonzalez said in one of her first protest speeches angrily countering popular NRA talking point stricter gun laws won’t prevent gun violence “he wouldn’t have been able to kill that many people with a knife.” A- I am an American citizen too, I too don’t want to lose my life to anything, least of all a gun, and I implore you please don’t say things like that; please don’t inadvertently issue a challenge to the next mentally ill, misplaced raged filled individual who can’t get a gun, but can access a knife, prefers a knife for whatever twisted reason who will set out to prove you wrong. B- Once more, please be careful not to downplay the devastation that can be wrought by knives on American soil not merely global soil, revisit the gruesome details of the slender man stabbing where 12 year old Payton Leutner was stabbed19 times, barely survived an attack by her sleepover friends in the name of a fictional internet horror meme. Tragic numbers of parents beheading their own young children, literally removing their heads; certainly we can argue the one’s history of drug use should have meant her not recently getting custody of her child returned right before it happened and mental health issues is all the more reason for practitioners to pay special attention to those who have small children nevertheless, their weapon remains a knife. The 20 year old cousin who stabbed another cousin age 14 over 80 times then shot her in the head; now is it possible she might have survived the gratuitous amount of stab wounds, yes but equally likely not, plus that many wounds added to the gunshot constitutes something police, criminal behaviorists call overkill, result still being death. 4 stabbed in a Corpus Christi Texas home church sound familiar, it should mirroring Dylan Roof only the weapon was a knife and by the ineptitude of the perpetrator they all might live. The man in a diner stabbed with his own daughter on his lap by a homeless man who had been reported to police for yelling and being disruptive on the promenade near the restaurant, probably ran off from it too hours before; wounds that turned fatal, leaves a 5 year old without a father and didn’t require a gun. Stabbings no stranger to schools either 2013 was the Lone Star college stabbing carried out with an X-ACTO knife, Pennsylvania’s Franklin high school 2014 20 stabbed in a rampage by student armed with steak knives; the question isn’t did they live, the question is did the boy stabbed close to his spine resume walking, is to remember those left urinating and defecating out of a bag for the duration of their lives post living through situations like this gun, knife or blunt object impacting, damaging their spinal cord, Orem Utah high school stabbing 2016 by a straight A student, no hints of bullying and no answers for victims or authorities left behind. UT Austin suffered a stabbing not a shooting by a guy who had a history of mental health problems, a commitment to a psych ward and disturbances so obvious police could identify it on scene; he never tried to get a gun and it still happened, doing his spree with a knife. When a guy in a grocery store can turn a can of Chef Boyardee into a weapon slamming it into a 14 year olds head because he didn’t think she and her friend said excuse me ‘the right way’ leaving a gash requiring 8 staples, coming within an inch of literally cracking the teens skull, victim suffering chronic headaches and random dizziness, limited in hairstyles, ways she can comb her hair, bans aren’t the answer. Illustrated perfectly in stories of children choked by window blind cords, affected parents’ wanted move wasn’t to ban blinds rather to heighten parental awareness to needed childproofing of your home, cordless blind options that are in existence offered on more shelves giving parents a safer choice, warnings issued by store staff not just on packaging when consumers directly ask about safety concerns, seek assistance in buying blinds for a home with small children, correcting legalities so the consumer product safety commission can outlaw corded ones, industry loathed to make a better product; children’s bedroom and playroom furniture tip overs have sparked eventual recalls but also proliferation of wall securement kits and warnings of the danger. No, we can’t fundamentally change how the media covers mass shooters nor should we do so in the predominant way suggested by most op-ed. writers, media consumption experts eliminating profiles of who they are and how they came to do this making it a false dichotomy of exchanging that for greater focus on the victims of mass violence, not because it isn’t capable of preventing at minimum some idolization and fetishization of mass shooters, stopping the spigot identified as a type of ‘violence porn’ certain Americans can’t turn away from, so called copycats looking to earn their 15 minutes of fame imitating the dangerously mentally ill and severely mentally unsound. Not because it isn’t possible, even exceedingly likely a movement could/will spring up forcing that change lead by the children of parkland students 20 years from now, sooner by children graduating high school in 2 to 5 years, but because the American people have a right to know who does this, what type of person commits these acts so they can help stop them by speaking up when they see it. Adjacently the American people have a right to know when the agencies, entities and institutions meant to keep them safe, help people with mental health and other disturbances precisely so they are not a danger to larger society screw up causing innocent people to pay for it, especially when that payment is with their lives. The American people have a right to know Nikolas Cruz represents merely the latest in another round of procedural failure, policy adherence cock ups America is the wrong kind of famous for. They have a right to know the singular reason Devin Kelly remained eligible to legally buy a gun, the assault rifle he used to mow down 26 people confined in a church on Sunday attempting to take revenge on his once in-laws, not even present, is because his domestic assault charge, conviction, time served in a military brig was never forwarded to the FBI database in accordance with federal law, exposing a pattern of military failing to input felony level domestic violence cases into the appropriate databases going back to the ‘90’s. They have a right to know Kevin Jensen Neal got gun assembly kits off the internet and put them together at home after being ordered to forfeit his legally owned firearms in connection with an aggravated assault charge against his neighbor a condition of being permitted out on bail pending trial, so when other, additional neighbors again complained about Neal shooting off large quantities of ammunition usually late at night officers had the authority to search his home and arrest him if they found guns because of his bail status, the conditions of it, yet local police didn’t seem to know that telling surrounding residents there was nothing they could do unless they saw him actually committing the act; because they didn’t, Neal killed 5 people among them his wife and shot up an elementary school hitting one boy in the leg, terrorizing the rest. They, the public have a right to know there should have been a stop to Dylan Roof obtaining a firearm because he had been arrested and admitted the drugs on his person, in his car were his barring him from legal firearm purchase in South Carolina; the snafu, clerical errors listed the wrong precinct somehow voiding the paperwork. Forestalling the massacre Arron Alexis perpetrated to appease the voices in his head should have been easily achieved by forwarding his police report about people following him, sending microwaves through his body, keeping him awake by talking to him to his employers, following the procedure already in place; when that didn’t happen, 12 people died along with Alexis himself. Americans should be interested in knowing the New Mexico Aztec high school shooter was interviewed by the FBI 1 year prior to sneaking into the school, blending in with students and pulling his gun out in a bathroom shooting 2 students before being confronted because he asked what gun was best for a mass shooting in an online forum, agents determining him not to be a threat. To those ends, America’s citizenry has a fundamental right to know their problem doesn’t just stem from a nation ‘awash in guns,’ minuscule percentages of the population possessing an overwhelming amount of various firearms including several kinds normally seen on the battlefield, staggeringly lacking basic legislation regulating guns the same way we regulate cars, quality of building parts, circuit breakers exc., but an astounding lack of enforcement of laws we’ve already written and are supposed to be abiding by. They too have a fundamental right to know, be given information to come to an understanding their shooting problems don’t even originate from an inordinate percentage of violence, an elevated number of mentally ill persons running rampant (we’ll discuss more on that in the next paragraphs), but completely absent security in any and every public place well before Nikolas Cruz and Parkland Florida. No not a gestapo style police state/police presence, officers in riot and tactical gear patrolling the Wal-Mart, creating scenes a-la Ferguson Missouri accosting persons buying groceries, renewing their driving licenses and state I.D.’s at the DMV, entering their bank to conduct account business or interested in opening one, but Adam Lanza never should have been able to get into Sandyhook elementary school due to security procedures it shouldn’t have taken an intruder shooting to enact. Definitively after his rampage no one should have been able to easily saunter onto a playground and mow down elementary school kids at play like a teen did in South Carolina circa 2016 4 ½ years passing between the 2. Demonstrating identical themes as parkland, Caleb Sharpe shouldn’t have been able to find his way onto school grounds owing to having been ordered to undergo a mental health screening prior to reentering school; at least when office workers permitted Cedric Anderson to go to a classroom it was because he was the husband of a teacher employed there, her never telling co-workers or administrators about her domestic troubles, separation after their short tumultuous marriage. The man who took a teacher hostage in California was a parent, at worst the non-custodial parent but not out of place being there as a parent of a child currently enrolled, unless they had been told he was not to see his child without notifying the primary custodial parent or legal guardian before just appearing, no indications given that applies. Kevin Jenson Neal’s only warning before spraying that school with bullets shouldn’t have been the shots that rang out a half a mile beforehand and the astute administrators, personnel outdoors who instantly knew it wasn’t fireworks. We can’t get where we need and want to go focused almost exclusively on who gets guns and how; so, let’s shift scrutiny to already law abiding, long term and longtime gun owners, rules for them when handling their guns. Every shooter within the last 5 years to a full decade ago had a history of unsafe gun handling that in a sane world would have meant permanent removal of their firearm ownership privileges, but were couched under accidental shootings never viewed as a red flag in and of themselves; Aaron Alexis shot out someone’s tires and discharged a firearm in an apartment where he was staying, yet not only retained legal status to buy a gun, never faced a single charge. Curtis Reeves, known for shooting a young father in a movie theater over texting’s, daughter got up on the stand at is bail hearing talking about his arthritis, carpentry and tool work he hoped to get back to but never could, yet kept his conceal and carry permit, whose family rather than having a conversation similar to the ones you do with those who show signs of Alzheimer’s, show they can no longer live alone, about his guns, possibly removing them; it took a tragedy for them to so much as think about doing so. Talk about a true case of family, people living with a potential shooter who should have done something; it wasn’t Nikolas Cruz instead situations like this. Micah Xavier Johnson, the Dallas protest shooter, had his guns taken from him on his last tour of duty by the military only to return home legally able to purchase a gun, no evidence the military tried to revoke his civilian gun ownership, possess a process to do so for persons clearly not well enough to handle them battling the after effects of combat. John Neumann was arrested and yet charges never filed on battery of a co-worker committed 3 years before and had actively threatened to kill his boss still permitted on the property of his Orlando awning job, once fired a lack of alert, paying attention category security measures permitting him to skulk in a backdoor with “semi-automatic pistol his hand, knives in his pocket and revenge on his mind,” to quote the news. James T. Hodgkinson had a prior police report where he’d struck someone in the face with the butt of his shotgun and right before he left his hometown to land at that Virginia baseball field was upsetting neighbors firing large quantities of ammo; police came, found Hodgkinson a licensed gun owner and left it at that, next thing we know congressmen Steve Scalise was fighting for his life. Independent media found the story of an 80 year old who shot himself in the hand and his wife in the abdomen when he removed his gun from his pocket upon request of a fellow parishioner asked to see the firearm, irony of ironies the church persons gathered there to discuss church shootings in light of what happened in Texas; again someone whose advanced age, behavior around guns says they probably shouldn’t own one, should face an extra layer of scrutiny to ensure they have the physical and mental faculties to handle one willy-nilly. Here is a thing we do with drivers passed a certain age that would translate well in assessing who gets/keeps a gun; said 80 year old who again didn’t face charges because the shooting was deemed an accident, this kind of carelessness not considered any type of crime. Many remember Roy Moore as much for alleged child molestation and pursuit of teen girls while in his 30’s for what he termed ‘dating’ as for his stunt at a campaign rally whipping out a small purse pistol waving it at the crowd (non-threateningly) just shocking to see, announcing he supports the second amendment; well, not to be outdone, then there was Ralph Norman who put his gun on a table during a constituency listening event, unlike Moore simply stopping at saying he supported the second amendment, going a step further in both tastelessness plus dangerous declaring, “I’m not going to be a Gabby Giffords.” Listed precautions, implied suggestion making accidental shootings some level of crime, talk about a place where it was ever acceptable to employ a 3 strikes rule, 3rd instance of accident, reckless gun handling revoked gun privileges, it would be here, a solid way to keep track of and assess persons who maybe once were fine owning fire arms but age and mental status have changed over the years evident in exhibited behavior indicating they are no longer safe with guns. As this piece is being finalized a man was arrested on child endangerment charges after his 3 year old shot her mother using the gun he left on the center console of his car while he went to do something and the pair stayed behind. Important the sole reason he is going to jail is child endangerment not failure to safely secure his gun; pointing out he could have gone through all the steps in the ‘treat guns like cars’ piece and still done this, but without laws saying it’s a crime nothing would happen. Even when you have laws it doesn’t stop some people from breaking them courtrooms, jails cells and prison s are filled with such persons, population filled with multitudes more headed there; example the Missouri man apprehended on his second unlawful use of a weapon charge caught on security cameras brandishing his gun inside a gun store, so should we ever regulate guns like cars as has been suggested you still grapple with this, grapple with persons no longer well enough to handle their legally gotten guns. Closing here, obtained footage shot by a neighbor of Nikolas Cruz shooting a gun is only of a bee-bee, pellet gun substantiating the mother’s claim to social services that is indeed the only gun he had, but demonstrates why giving him a real gun was a real bad idea neighbors alleging he pointed it at their window, harming animals with it, setting his dog on a neighbor’s smaller pets completing the picture of exactly how disturbed he was.
Report: Man Uses Raccoon To Start Breathalyzer Equipped Car; Raccoon Then Attacks Driver
Much of the consternation held by parkland’s students isn’t just a teenager got a gun, the easy process for getting that powerful a gun, that teens can buy any gun but not a beer, and is centered around exclusively how this teen with all his compiled red flags was able to get a gun, such a powerful gun on top of it, jaws dropping at why he wasn’t already on a list of persons prohibited from buying firearms, his name synonymous with at least a proceed with extra caution warning should he attempt buying one, never mind the several he apparently owned. Listen again to the last video after the previous paragraph listing the types of calls made to police about the Cruz home over a 7 year period phrases like mentally ill person child/elder abuse, social services under the division handling vulnerable mentally ill persons had been to the home and worth reiterating there wasn’t something as simple as a caution put next to his name if he tries to buy a gun. Pushing to the forefront proactive, preventative measures means elevating mental illness to the national conversation prominence it deserves, never ranking less than number 2 on a list for sweeping changes; counterproductively numbers 4 and 8 on the parkland student’s published list of 9 wanted major changes to be implemented as soon as possible. Even then only couched in terms of making it easier for mental health professionals to communicate with law enforcement which wasn’t the crux of the problem leading up to what happened at their school; not say calling BS, to borrow their phrase, on the mental health community who constantly stated for years how difficult it was to profile mass shooters when Chris Mathews reporting on parkland nailed the profile to a T-young high school/college age, white male who felt alienated or bullied at school. Yes calling for increasing funding for mental health however not nearly as fervently as they are calling for the ban of the assault rifle, the bump stock or ratcheting up the age to buy any fire arm from 18 to 21; not calling out congress, local and federal government for their repeated budget cuts, virtual defunding of mental health services cross country to rival their crusade against Planned Parenthood spelling the closure of mental health facilities resulting in shuffling them into prison for an institutional bed talked about in opening. Failing to call for reinstatement of the Mental Health Services Act mandating federal funding be allocated to the building, upkeep and operation of local mental health facilities nationwide as opposed to the ‘care in communities’ it’s abundantly clear they can’t provide and probably could never provide when president Reagan rescinded the act, but it was as close as he could get to today’s privatization push for things like education, social security, Medicare/Medicaid, the VA in the 1980’s. No Hardball round table, pundits, commentators, mental health isn’t a red herring, a diversion, a copout just because president Trump said it; never mind an avoidance to meaningful gun control, rather it’s needed as much or more than the former. Having been said many times before Trump because it’s worth saying then acting upon arguably the leading cause of mass violence; again no Hardball roundtable, talking about mental health doesn’t mean locking up those deemed mentally ill indefinitely, too quickly classifying persons mentally ill to institutionally segregate, ostracize them from society because they are different, think differently. But effective preventative measures perhaps means parsing which regulations we need pertaining to mental health and guns discarding ones we don’t, newspersons and gun violence prevention advocates screaming about Trump’s so called double standard hypocrisy response to shootings, mass violence saying it’s about mental health then rolling back Obama administration regulations putting safeguards between the mentally ill and guns, except oh wait one of those involved automatically disqualifying persons deemed mentally ill by the social security administration, i.e. receiving benefits due to a mental illness, also unceremoniously and arbitrarily unfairly lumped in, persons under a conservatorship for their finances; progressive firebrand Kyle Kulinski conceding the ability to do math in terms of money, budgeting and the skills needed to handle a gun were 2 separate things. Being a person with a disability and having a tiny window into the vast community that makes up those who are differently abled I know firsthand what it’s like having to convince people just because you’re body doesn’t work doesn’t necessarily translate to your brain is adversely effected also, because you need to or choose to do things differently people think you cannot take care of yourself. Conservatorships becoming a quick and dirty control mechanism for well-meaning, or not so well meaning relatives, conservatorships once in place hard and costly to reverse not happening without an advocacy agency involved; misuse and overuse of such criteria can have far reaching and devastating consequences, take the couple who lost custody of both their children, baby taken from her at the hospital, not because of any documented neglect, abuse or unsatisfactory home conditions, but a DFS administered intelligence test revealing well below average IQ’s signally what used to be called mental retardation, now termed moderate developmental delay; proving the specialized nature of these cases their original appointed attorney didn’t know they had regular high school diplomas. Couple succeeding in getting a specially advocate and retaining custody of both children, yet there is no reclaiming the 4 years limited to visits, the lack of bonding, missing firsts with their newborn who wasn’t returned until 10 months old. Switching gears completely to mental illnesses intersection with guns, weapons and violence, the single biggest preventative is utilizing tools previously in place e.g. the standard 72 hour psych hold option precisely for people like Cruz, following the advice of the Parkland Florida sheriff calling for strengthening the Backer Act, that state’s statute to handle mentally ill individuals, allowing police to remit people to that mandatory hold; ensuring officers know how far that remittance goes, in tandem with holding local/state mental health professionals to the law temporarily institutionalizing those who are a clear and present danger to self, but especially, others. It means challenging the mental health professional community to perhaps amend the parameters of the standard 72 hour psych hold (doubling it to 6 days, a week for example) when handling persons meeting 2 glaring criteria: possibly mentally ill, violently mentally ill to the tune of high potential for mass violence rated on a scale similar to the pain management ones given to patients, the higher the clinically assessed likelihood the higher priority given to getting them a psychiatric bed and the longer they stay even if that translates to petitioning the court for their involuntary remittance; they too are years/decades out from the first school shooting, the first non-workplace public space mass shooting it’s long past time they too acted like it. Proactive prevention starts at ending rapid turnaround, treat and street policies for people seeking help for their disorder, think Arthur DaRosa the Massachusetts mall stabber who was released from his local hospital 1 day before, described by family and friends as manic depressive. Think Alexander Bonds responsible for the savage killing of police officer Miosotis Familia who had been diagnosed schizophrenic and bi-polar, did well on meds but frequently went off them and mixed them with alcohol, who had a lengthy rap sheet and mental health history (gee I wonder how those 2 fit together) was released from a hospital he’d gone to at the urging of his sister 1 week before and whose girlfriend called police earlier that day describing him as erratic, manic off his medication, even giving details he was walking down a particular street; little was done it seems in part because his girlfriend did not believe him to be armed or dangerous, she was wrong, dead wrong. Look deeper into people like Radee Labeeb Prince whose outward behavior closely matches those deemed paranoid, delusional, crazy by family, friends and neighbors or diagnosed schizophrenic, with periphery related disorders upon capture, evaluation and court ordered medication. The second, most recent child beheading story, his mother was in a hospital for mental health reasons the month before and is now in jail, slated to spend the rest of her life there because the help she did get wasn’t thorough enough, didn’t last long enough. The woman currently on trial for the kidnapping Kamiyah Mobley 20 years ago told jurors she was in an abusive relationship and depressed post a miscarriage when she took the infant from the hospital. Her explanation coming amidst new care guidelines for women just after giving birth spotlighted as the much watched Kate Middleton took home royal baby number 3; care guidelines meant to address post-partum health including potential for depression, target those who are likely to drop out of care for themselves after having their child, predictably higher percentages in lower income areas. Looming battle convincing insurance companies to cover such aftercare; services for expectant mothers who suffered miscarriages on the other hand doesn’t go beyond referrals to counseling then we have the audacity to wonder why we have so many Kamiyah Mobleys, women literally cutting babies from the wombs of other women, women driving their kids into the ocean in their cars, did Andrea Yates teach us nothing? Parkland students would have done well, would do well going forward getting much more specific about what they envision on mental health; one solid example added to blanket funding, federally mandated setting up of aftercare supports when mentally ill persons are indeed ready to go home, reenter society, normal, daily life. Supports that would have likely literally saved the lives of Lavall Hall shot by police wielding a broom in his yard during the pre-dawn hours one morning post his mother calling police frightened by his behavior upon recent release from a mental facility, Ezel Ford who was known to his neighborhood as mentally ill and well taken care of by his community, assistance meaning police wouldn’t have needed to get involved with Jason Harrison, Saheed Vassell, dozens like them because they would have been getting the care they needed. Investing the funds to open facilities to direct persons to, because the one area where ‘cops are being asked to do too much’ reform advocates have a point is when police who were always defacto set up as referral mechanisms, conduits between citizens and social services, community resources, that breaks down is when there’s no one to send them to; funding that would mean more pediatric psych doctors available to see the thousands needing help ideally before they become school shooter, mass violence headlines. A boon for the Franklin high school stabbing suspect who authorities couldn’t find a secure mental health place to house him pending trial, to adequately evaluate him to see what the next legal moves were concerning him, officials interviewed volunteering the facility who’d previously done that for juveniles, adolescents had been shut down years prior and not supplemented with anything else; revealing not only was he slated not to get care post his offense to treat his obvious mental illness leading an exceedingly miserable existence institutionalized for the rest of his life surpassing the shock that is prison or a criminal mental ward, but structures of things where he lived blocking him from treatment options before his crime had he wanted them, had his parents sought them . His situation emblematic of what’s happening across the country; lawyers for Nikolas Cruz argued in court he was screaming for help in every way the mind knows how to scream out, child and adult services had been to the home recently. Broward County’s school superintendent confronted with the litany of missed red flags describing it “we’ve got different agencies, we’re all working, I think doing the best job that we can but it’s being done in individual silos;” dressed up version of the same fragmented crap Massachusetts was called out for in a report on the Sandyhook massacre noting the state’s fragmented mental health system greatly contributed to what he ultimately did, the same thing said by Lisa Long blog author of the post ‘I am Adam Lanza’s mom’ opening up about her son who has many of the same problematic precursors as Adam and her endless fight to get him adequate help, describing systems where to benefit from some programs your child also had to be in trouble with the law (what?). Again I’m struck by one burring question, why Parkland students are left doing the heavy lifting, why that superintendent hasn’t joined them in crafting helpful mental health parameters that would get young people effective help, why mental health advocates are not standing shoulder to shoulder with them at events discussing the arena they know best, it left to young people to do what gown-up’s won’t. Fixing it encompasses removing barriers to care, if a kid needs extensive mental health assessment they shouldn’t have to wait until they’ve broken the law, willfully break the law to get it, outreach to exactly the kinds of people who don’t make doctor’s appointments physical or mental health, once persons find a therapist, mental health professional, program, medication that works for them bureaucratic red tape, thoughtless budget cuts, confusion about state funded programs and Medicaid expansion, making patients choose between what’s working and holistic care under Medicaid seeing to their physical needs too. Stop playing footsie with people who do have insurance encountering baffling hurdles to care when their provider doesn’t bother to list mental health personnel as a category, says they don’t have any doctors who practice X subsection of psychology/psychiatry when you call them up with a PR statement regarding shortages to boot, doctors they do supply booked up months and years in the future, full to the point of taking no new patients while psychologists and psychiatrists seeking a job, seeking patients, seeking to establish a practice who can’t get onto panels making themselves available to insurance companies thus patients are repeatedly told they have enough providers for the area; someone’s lying and precedent doesn’t indicate it’s the medical professionals. Even that stabbed father’s father wanted more help for the homeless, wanted local officials to do something, not simply toward sweeping the homeless out of sight out of mind, cracking down on vagrancy but aimed at getting them help so they didn’t have to be homeless at all. Growing percentages of homeless persons suffering profound mental illness or substance abuse problems; problems exacerbated by the opioid crisis; substance abuse known to be self-medication for mental illness. Gavin Grim the transgender teen who took on his conservative state’s bathroom bill branched out seeking to help reform the education system that failed him; often dumped in with behavior problem, termed at risk youth what he saw was students not knowing why they were doing what they were doing discovering his bullies were being abused at home while others didn’t fit into cookie cutter, one size fits all education causing them to act out. Functioning prevention, heading off school shootings, mass violence and multiple sections of violence period means moving away from the nebulous blanket awning of ‘getting help’ and zeroing in on getting the right help; sobering statistics state 20% of teens have a history of depression while only half get diagnosed, and of the half that seek care, only half of them are getting appropriate care, and those are just the stats on teens and depression forget any other age group or disorder. Eliot Roger had been in therapy for years and it did nothing to impede his eventual rampage, James Holmes flitted from psychiatrist to psychiatrist and was under treatment just before he opened fired on that movie theater. Yes amend the law so that a 14 year old minor can’t voluntarily sign himself out of a mental hospital (scene playing out in Washington state) based on a 1970’s law originally designed to protect youth concurrently comprehending it was enacted in the days of shock therapy and locking up beat nick poets (go read Alan Ginsberg’s ‘Howl,’ digesting how relevant it is today and thus ceasing calling gay conversion therapy therapy so kids don’t have to have the ability to sign themselves out or endure mental torture and sometimes physical abuse for their sexual orientation, a practice 10 states have banned using on minors precisely because of horrors discovered by news organizations like ABC news the lasting mental harm noticeably inflicted on LGBT young people from the therapy not their underlying sexuality, Maryland slated to be the 11th , that young man killing himself likely suffering auditory hallucinations. When state, city or county social services is bought in mandate they investigate long enough to get the necessary information to properly assess the person they are assigned; standing out from the New York Times deep dive into Nikolas Cruz’s background while the social services meant to look after at risk mentally ill adults found him stable enough not to be hospitalized and in need of no further services findings they might have reconsidered had they spoken to, more in depth with the school counselor and support staff who handled Cruz on a daily basis who as explained in paragraph 3 thought was premature for a variety of reasons. The newspaper’s investigating turned up just how many schools Cruz had attended, most for those with behavioral or mental health problems, deemed at risk students, his recurring habit of getting kicked out for inability to follow basic rules, his shifting mental health problems no one could skillfully identify making compliance impossible, part of school records social services should have been able to view, nothing indicating law is what got in their way rather overwork, laziness or apathy. At the same time it isn’t just that Illinois gets it, that schools need more therapists not armed guards; it’s that they have both the mental health professionals available period and the number they need plus, if not armed guards, it’s that they have the appropriate security measures in place, the necessary balance for your school, district, state, regional area just a pipe dream now because it’s still in the legislation budget negotiation phase. What is infinitely more likely to happen is they will get their mental health professional, 1 per district, too much to hope for one per school, or if it gets that far one per giant such as Stoneman Douglas with thousands of students, promptly overwhelmed, kids who need help slipping through the cracks, simply different ones, putting us all right back where we started with a side of gun advocates screaming touchy feely therapy doesn’t work wanting to of course go back to the armed approach. Training mental health professionals and no shortage of teachers adequately to know when they can and are required to report an at risk student/person’s violent confessions, fantasies emerging into reality, from a New York Times op-ed. about an LA program the author saw 5 years ago “Educating local clinics, school psychologists and teachers about laws governing the release of privileged communication can improve the chances of identifying potentially dangerous students. Many educators and mental health professionals believe that they cannot disclose troubling confidences, even if they believe that there might be a threat to public safety. But this is not the case.” Facts that should be mental health provider 101 if your patient is confessing to a crime, is talking about a crime he intends to commit in the imminent, near future, talks about harming others in a threat you believe to be real, not only is it your right to disclose that information to authorities, it is your legal obligation; if you are a teacher or mentor to a troubled student it is your obligation as well as putting in a call to any existing mental health professional they see. Clinics can and should do the same with hand off agencies meant to get mentally ill individuals long term help, more in depth evaluation, moving from crisis clinic to sustained care. Dovetailing us into established solutions proposed to mitigate and manage mass gun violence, the concept of arming teachers isn’t new it goes hand in hand with the armed guard, armed police officers in schools initiatives floated by gun advocates, those who feel safer armed, being armed makes them feel like they can do something to protect themselves and their students if confronted with a gunman; what is different, the armed teachers ‘solution’ has the fervent backing of the president. Fortunately for less guns advocates, America’s children going forward teachers don’t want to be armed, not with guns anyway. They want to be ‘armed,’ as it were, with social emotional education materials and time to spend teaching it, teaching students to understand and process their emotions, comprehend the emotions of others, they want more, better, present mental health services in schools to identify troubled students and expedite treatment part of select pilot programs across the country precisely meant to ease bottle neck at traditional mental health and family counseling offices housing tremendously long waitlists for standard evaluations. They want to be ‘armed’ with resources and supplies for creative outlets to benefit students; twitter pictures see educators holding glue guns and other art supplies, music, theater, to basics like books, paper towels and smaller class sizes. Predictions armed teachers would have disastrous consequences in engineering more tragedy not less predicated on what we have seen throughout history seem to be accurate ,when teachers do ‘safety demonstrations’ during criminal justice class and end up firing into the ceiling causing a chunk of mentioned ceiling to be lodged in a student’s neck, 2 others wounded by falling debris, thankfully the shot in the ceiling did not injure anyone on an upper floor; all the more disturbing because like Curtis Reeves before him, said California teacher was a reserve officer and presumably trained to handle guns properly. When a school resource officer’s gun goes off in an office, slightly unnerving being in Alexandria Virginia home of that blood bath baseball field mess; when a teacher having some variation on mental breakdown A- brings a gun to school sans permission, permit, alerting school administration, fellow staff and B- locks himself in a classroom telling staff and students to get away from him, principal able to talk him down. But let’s arm more teachers with actual guns than the tools they actually asked for; it’s hard to argue with the ones who feel safer with a gun, honestly feel like they are protecting students should a mass shooting day ever come to their school, not hard in the slightest to argue against not perpetuating the accidents and breakdowns of persons while carrying guns at school.
To solve school shootings, mass violence incidents post putting in basic security measures oddly missing, post putting mental health structures in place to help people on a regional, state, county, city level and in the meantime while solidifying those structures start teaching our kids and ourselves the warning signs to look for and what to do if we see them in our friends, our children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, brothers, sisters, those we mentor; distinguishing with an ordinary person’s degree of certainty when someone needs a hug, a friendly ear, simple human help and when inclusion won’t work, mental illness too severe, you’re several steps past that. Distinguishing the benefits of a kinder, gentler world especially at school a place students all have to be absent a choice, being just a little nicer to each other, befriending the person who is different, treating someone who is LGBT like that isn’t all that defines them, regarding the person(s) who has a disability as normal, just like you, listening and understanding the person who struggles with dyslexia and handling deeply disturbed, waiting to explode individuals like Cruz. Distinguishing between things within the students’ capabilities at the advanced, budding on adulthood, for juniors/seniors, stage of life, and the things that should still be the purview, responsibility of adults for a reason; a classmate forced to be his peer counselor effectively countered why it wouldn’t have worked with him horrified she was left with a fellow student ogling her chest, cussing her out while adults knew his history of, as she put it, rage and brutality. As citizens and parents we should be too though perhaps not ready to wholly throw out the idea of inclusion where it can work, where the mental illness is being treated, person X isn’t mentally ill just needs companionship, compassion, to know they aren’t alone in their feelings about the teen years, parents, school, college stress, while getting up to speed ourselves on mass violence tendencies, kids whose brains are violently broken not just broken. But to their credit every student who spent more than 5 minutes with him knew exactly what Nikolas Cruz was, what he could become; it was adults and ‘professionals’ who didn’t. They told school officials, even the FBI only for it to fall on completely deaf ears, not be forwarded to the appropriate people, various personnel mystifyingly uncooperative, others dropped the ball on asking the right questions; it was a collective ‘them’ who didn’t listen. Just like students at Jared Loughner’s community college suspected exactly what he was, what he might do, math teacher envisioned one day turning around from writing materials on the board and seeing him with a gun, persons in online forums seriously though him schizophrenic; it was the school counselor, “I talked to him and he said he’ll stop,” and police who were apathetic, throwing up their hands. Once James Holmes dropped out of school thank school officials for thinking their obligations ended; the same ‘adults’ parkland’s students, America’s students have set about cleaning up after while we call them, millennials, gen Y, gen Zers, entitled, lazy, apathetic, uninvolved, catalyst behind a laundry list of things ruined by a vapid generation, this too, mass shootings and mass violence, we’ll slam on their shoulders no matter how many older adults from previous generations who were perfect to hear others tell it commit mass violence on a scale dwarfing any school shooting. For the love of the twin elephants in the room named the common sense gun laws we won’t pass, for the record I never disagreed with rather their effectiveness yield once implemented, and mental health we refuse to learn about, emotional and psychological well-being facts we refuse to take in, assimilate then apply preferring to stick to thinking we already know what the problem and solution are, insisting on sticking to harsh discipline and vicious spankings as the prescription for what ails our youngest generation. Nikolas Cruz no longer qualifying as the latest mass violence perpetrator who was hearing voices, having stopped taking their medication, identified by family, friends or neighbors as paranoid, delusional that goes to Tennessee waffle house shooter Travis Reinking. Housing the history we’ve come to expect from shooters, run ins with the law once claiming Taylor swift hacked his Netflix account and asked him to meet her in a restaurant parking lot, was arrested by the secret service for trespassing trying to get into the Whitehouse, desiring to see president Trump, belatedly connected to a car theft the week before; as if his showing up that night/early morning wearing a jacket and nothing else holding a gun wasn’t a giant clue to his deteriorated mental status. Mr. Reinking merely the latest in the persistent string of shooters experiencing auditory or other hallucinations, paranoia; things plaguing Aaron Alexis and Kevin Jensen Neal, Esteban Santiago. The Washington teen who was astoundingly able to check himself out of a mental health facility despite being under age, to shortly commit suicide, based on parent described behavior of talking to himself, laughing at randomly inappropriate times, grabbing his head at one point while rolling on the floor was probably battling some form of auditory hallucinations, unclear if his parents didn’t think/know to ask if he was hearing things, which direction to steer evaluating professionals in; why educating the public is so important especially parents and persons associated with kids, a job we fail at miserably. Assertions Washington mall shooter Arcan Cetin was indeed suffering mental illness comes as much from how police found him than relative statements after the fact; wandering streets in a zombie like state, their words, the CMU student charged in killing his parents you’ll recall was initially taken to a hospital by police the previous night on suspicion of drug use/OD, reaction, after the shooting next found strikingly close to campus hypothermic and incoherent- hmm picking up a pattern here? UT Austin’s stabber and Pennsylvania’s Weis market shooters’ mental health malfunction was so profound police readily identified it on scene or looking through belongings. Jason Brian Dalton’s behavior in jail as well as out of it tells you exactly what you’re dealing with dido Robert Dear’s court appearance and subsequent behavior; Dear evaluated every 90 days for the last going on 2 years and found incompetent each time rambling incoherently and remains remitted to the psychiatric facility as of his last screening February 2018. Hearing voices or outwardly disconnected to reality around you not the only visible indicator of significant mental illness; on the heels of Esteban Santiago there was Michael Wayne Pettigrew, who waved a training gun around an Orlando airport begging cops to kill him, seen regularly enough they have a name for it, suicide by cop. The Ocala, Florida shooter who marred 4/20 national walkouts to end gun violence organized to honor those who were slain at Columbine as well as a continuation of the parkland movement, firing a single shot through a door hitting one student in a school only minutes from parkland detailed exactly what this article has been saying; gun bought online no background check, 19 and a dropout able to walk right into the school no one stopping him like even he thought there would be, taking his time in the bathroom putting on gloves before taking that shot halted when he saw fear in surrounding students’ eyes, putting his gun down and giving up to a teacher who called police. Who when interviewed said he wanted to be locked up where he couldn’t hurt anyone seeing only solitary confinement in his future; speaking to a young man who knows there’s something wrong with him, prime suspect mental illness. No amount of ‘better parenting’ going to stop auditory hallucinations, onset of schizophrenia, paranoia or psychosis, treat manic depressive symptoms, exact opposite best way to handle suicidal individuals. No amount of ‘better parenting,’ as those who say that define it, going to stop school and mass shooters unless it involves getting them help, except perhaps the case of Mr. Reinking senior who was advised to keep guns away from his son and didn’t. Avid progressive Kyle Kulinski supporter of the idea of classifying white shooters, gunman a-la the Bundies, Dylan Roof, Christopher Shawn Harper Mercer exc. terrorists the same way we name people of color, the immigrant, someone affiliated, pledging allegiance to ISIS a terrorist is starting to come to the conclusion whether you’re part of a misogynist group or identified terror group we’ve heard of there is an underlying psychological issue, cause contributing to their actions; conclusions reached after discovering the Toronto van attacker was part of an incel group praising Eliot Roger. Toxic masculinity for as much as it’s not being mislabeled as a cause of mass shootings over other more dominate factors is coming from us, adults prone to telling young men to ‘man up’ every time they show emotion, communicate being upset about something, heaven forbid cry independent reasons to be sad; sadly they don’t know what the, popular a generation ago, phrase means they just know what the people they care about signal isn’t allowed, until they aren’t at all surprised a young man picked up a gun, unable to live an expressionless life, denying the feelings every human being has. Studies leaned on by gun control advocates are correct we don’t have a disproportionate number of mentally ill citizens, we spend relatively the same amount per capita on mental health and have commiserate levels of mental health professionals adjusting up or down for population compared to the rest of the western world. What they have that we don’t, where they possess an advantage is they aren’t fighting the quantity of stigma around mental health disorders, seeking mental health treatment as we do in the United States; they operate on much more centralized system and eased access to care than the bureaucratic red tape, disjointed hodgepodge found in the states before tackling the insurance problem, no insurance, insurance that only covers select facets of mental health care, doesn’t cover the specialized mental health provider you need to manage your disorder. Aforementioned hodgepodge, disjointedness and red tape leading to episodes like that second beheading case in paragraph 4 his mother was so desperate for care and ignorant of other resources she called the sheriff’s office seeking mental health services direction; Reinking’s ex-boss begged the secret service to both hang on to him and be sure he got help because she plainly didn’t know where else to turn, recall videos after the paragraph above showing Medicaid expansion confusion dumped mentally ill Chicagoans off some of the first care they’d been able to receive, disrupted the rapport, connection they’d built with counselors, remembering too the asinine way many states configure their programs forcing you to be in serious legal trouble before having access to certain care. Cruz himself had neighbors calling in a mentally ill person and abuse/neglect to police, multiple agencies had seen him, been notified about him, failing to find him ill enough for hospitalization period let alone involuntary commitment; why it’s just as important once we, the adults, have agencies not to let them off the hook, let them drop the ball, if we do not, the emerging generation will do it for us and hate us unto our final ragged breath. These people shouldn’t have had to resort to calling police, begging the secret service for help because they are who concerned individuals knew how to get ahold of, who wandered into their path due to our abysmal non-dissemination of information about where to get help for themselves if they are exhibiting X psychological symptoms, where to get help for a loved one or adult child if you see symptoms, because states refuse to fund mental health but can always find tax cuts for the rich, bolster corporate welfare. A husband shouldn’t have to call 9-1-1 to report his wife’s murder of their children, previously calling in suicidal tendencies because she wasn’t aware and able to get help before then; an expectant mother suffering a miscarriage’s only option through her grief fevered brain shouldn’t be to steal someone else’s baby, because she’s been left utterly alone and without support absent a business card with a counselors name, a generic printed sheet of resources if that. End product we don’t meaningfully treat our mentally ill the way other counties do; yes we have commiserate numbers of mentally ill citizens in our country, yes we spend about as much per capita, but it’s poorly, unevenly allocated compared to population need and poorly managed once allocated. Yes we have comparable numbers of mental health professionals to other comparably sized and populated countries, but like funds, they are not efficiently dispatched throughout the country paralleling exposed problems with a lack of judges holding law degrees and legal professionals in rural, isolated parts of America; employment experts say there is, or at least was, a glutton of lawyers during the recession as grads were getting jobs as baristas they just weren’t in the right place to get a legal job, no guarantee tiny towns would have the dollars to hire them if they could convince them to move somewhere not found on most maps. What we do have is a shortage of facilities for mentally ill persons needing acute or long term care, those who must be permanently institutionalized outside an incarceration setting illuminated by the fires that ripped through California the Franklin high school stabber they struggled to house before trial; what we do have is a shortage of specialized mental health doctors treating specific disorders or age groups, mirroring physical medicine commonly children and the elderly. Bulk of our mentally ill consigned to wander around homeless, too ill to hold a job, manage a dwelling, too many never diagnosed resorting to spending their lives as extreme misfits at best and at worst resorting to shelf medicating though substance abuse, negative behaviors like cutting, promiscuous sex, daredevil behavior sometimes culminating in school shootings, mass violence, workplace rampages. Complicating the listed trifecta of problems is prevailing attitudes about treatments for mental health, mirroring and perpetuating ones correlated to toxic masculinity, always talking about the wussification of America, how soft kids and younger adults are today for want of hard, no nonsense parenting often perceived as equal parts character flaw, personal weakness and literal contagion like a cold or the flu; race snaking in there too in all the negative ways we’d expect, the bratty black or Latino kid in the store ‘throwing a tantrum’ in public an embarrassment to ‘shameless’ parents and society is a hood rat, little thug product of ghetto culture, probable illegal immigrants who don’t have children but rather ‘breed’ and don’t stop ‘breeding.’ The white kid getting the benefit of the doubt he might have autism, a sensory processing disorder, something else might be going on medical or psychological in nature, though tolerance for either, even with a known medical undercurrent is fast disappearing to the point specialty events theater, movies and outings have to be crafted so spectrum kids can be kids without getting on the public’s nerves. Subsequent issues, feelings ADHD and so called ‘alphabet soup’ disorders are made up excuses for bad parenting careening society into legions of badly behaved kids. No matter how many adults are diagnosed yearly or how many adults looking back on their school years now understand their chronically disruptive classmate night have had the disorder, Ty Pennington and Lisa Ling to name but two famous examples. Knowing the larger western world doesn’t use such distinctions going instead for the more traditional clinically severe diagnoses something is going on with these kids, older people and correctly treating it should be the goal, not nitpickingly splitting hairs on what you call it as opposed to the symptoms exhibited that define it- not according to popular opinion. Psychotropic drugs AKA the stimulants used to calm the overactive neurology of those with ADHD the top layman’s cause for school/mass shootings based on how they ‘alter the brain,’ second to SSRIs used to treat depression; flimsy evidence how many shooters who were diagnosed with one of the ‘alphabet disorders,’ common knowledge you can’t cold turkey go off these medications without dangerous side effects. As if using it as directed, heeding listed warnings on any medication you take even over the counter pain killers, indigestion relievers is a bad thing; by the by they say the same things about blood thinning medications given post stroke/heart attack to prevent another stroke, heart attack DVT or PE, medical shorthand for blood clots in the leg that can travel to heart or brain, blood clot in the lung that can travel to the heart causing heart attack or death. Would you hold the same attitude to your grandmother’s stoke pills, your father’s heart attack prevention pills, I think not; Bob Harper known for his work with contestants on the Biggest Loser recently made headlines for an unsuspecting heart attack only to find out he has a rare blood disorder explaining the event. Carrying said phenomenon over into the arena of behavioral, emotional and psychological problems, never once given serious thought, one: we want rid of mass shooters but fail to make the connection, to stop the thing making them want to commit mass violence, arguably most common auditory hallucinations or paranoia if not both, is to give them medication, usually anti-psychotics, mood stabilizers the remedy for Arthur DaRosa’s manic depressive symptoms with a heavy dose of cognitive behavioral (talk) therapy; therapy like their understanding of god for many, is ‘a crutch for people who can’t manage their own lives.’ Two: mass shooters purported to have so called ‘alphabet disorders’ and placed on the standard treatment meds were misdiagnosed, thus put on the wrong meds; Christopher Shawn Harper-Mercer was only self diagnosed autistic by his mother who self diagnosed her own ‘condition,’ how many instances have we heard of in traditional medical settings with physical ailments, disease, where second opinions and closer looks came up with something different, a more accurate description/diagnosis of person X’s affliction, we don’t know what Adam Lanza had because his mother don’t want him treated. Or, separating from the medication entirely, it wasn’t the medication or the disorder that drove them over the edge, subpar treatment by doctors, but harrowing mental institution experiences, moreover how society treated them, shunned them, blamed their erratic behavior on being a screw up, a degenerate good for nothing, ignored efforts to be normal, to comply with adults; the Oklahoma mall shooter was estranged from his family, Adam Lanza killed his mother before coming to Sandyhook, the South Carolina teen who shot up the playground killed his father prior to, Caleb Sharpe initially seeing the school counselor for suicidal tendencies, school finding a suicide note the week before, wanted to drive home the consequences of bullying, part of why the columbine shooters asked who was a Christian, witnesses said Harper-Mercer asked the same question seeking to free them from a cruel world. Unique problems we do have other countries don’t can be summed up, we are coming from behind the preverbal 8 ball, violence took hold in a way it never did in other western nations; so, yes that means some judges are going to get it right and some are going to get it wrong hints one who ordered a teen forfeit his phone to his parents and abstain from violent video games post making an online school shooting threat in part picturing him playing a violent game, while another ruled a young man who idolized the most recent mass shooters could purchase guns. No Cenk Uygur, it is not time to rail on the right and how they’ll never let preventative laws take their guns ahead of time or defend the FBI’s failings to follow procedure; we saw the same thing before with judges saying skinny jeans were a defense for rape because there was no way they could get them off alone, a judge who said overweight teen probably liked her sexual assault, the judge who ranted about 19 year old Zach Anderson for sleeping with a 14 year old who lied about her age after using a website known for hook up encounters to find date, teachers given lenient sentences stemming from bogus reasons she acted older than her chronological age or shouldn’t have flirted with him. Yes they were wrong, sentences appealed; resentencing taking place and the reckoning always comes. You curtail school shootings, mass violence by following the recommendations of professionals like those working for the secret service, long term findings not just the guys caught talking on their cellphones letting intruders onto the Whitehouse lawn, getting drunk and crashing vehicles into gates at the Whitehouse, leaving critical doors unlocked leaving the leader of the free world vulnerable to threats, noting shooters often mention what they plan to do beforehand; that’s how several would-be shootings were thwarted long pre parkland and directly post parkland due to greater awareness over the years to dynamics of mass shootings and people willing to report what they had seen, heard or known about person X, parkland a jarring reminder. Including parents noticed missing guns and raced to their son’s middle school, the father who turned in his own daughter, the grandmother who turned in her grandson after finding journal entries police then finding a gun in a guitar case, bomb making materials. Shooters often exhibit disturbing behavior sometimes years before their act John Russel Houser, James T. Hodgkinson, Seung Cho, Jarred Laughner, Adam Lanza; the shorter list is who didn’t have some variation on noticed problems? Shooters often show signs struggling to cope with losses and personal failures even to the point of suicidal thoughts or attempts; we know Kevin Jensen Neal’s domestic dispute lead him to shoot his wife and hide her body in his floorboards, speculated to have been the catalyst to his rampage, the ex-wife of Devin Kelly described him as someone with a lot of demons i.e. emotional/personal problems, recently divorced and fighting with his former in-laws. Cruz was expelled from Stoneman Douglas, his mother had died and he was living with strangers; Caleb Sharpe had been seeing the school counselor for suicidal thoughts, had written a suicide note and wanted to send a message to bullies. The last bullet point on the secret service list of things to watch for, proactive measures indicates shooters were bullied at school, the columbine shooters thought so, targeting a school they once attended where they had problems think Lanza, the South Carolina teen, the YouTube shooter was upset she was being demonetized. As I’ve reiterated repeatedly throughout my near decades worth of coverage of mass shootings imagine what would have happened, or better yet not happened, if the hotline you can call in Arizona was better known and used, if as a last resort the mental health hotline James Holmes was trying to call had gone through. Imagine if someone had managed to help little Adam Lanza and his mother too before murder was ever on his mind, imagine if that South Carolina community had gone from knowing the gun wielding teen who shot up a playground’s family to doing something to help them; could help for persons with autism and similar disorders meant Eliot Roger, Christopher Shawn Harper-Mercer had reasonable chances of having the romantic relationships they wanted. How many might be alive if Aaron Alexis’ VA doctor had asked more questions about his insomnia or the writer of Steven Paddock’s Valium prescription, these things mattering more than any law on guns.
Robert Dear, admitted killer in Planned Parenthood shooting rampage, remains incompetent to stand trial
Contrary to the probable perceived tone I respect the Marjory Stoneman Douglas survivors, I likewise admire the movement the Parkland students started, students who have joined them, adults who support them and, it has clearly had an effect; select retailers like Wal-Mart have raised the age to buy fire arms, ammo and accessories to 21, Dick’s Sporting Goods has stopped selling AR-15 and assault style rifles, airlines and a handful of other businesses have stopped giving discounts to NRA members based exclusively on that membership, the inventor of the bump stock has shut down their website and many across America are either destroying their AR-15’s or ripping up the NRA membership. Several states have enacted their own gun legislation blueprinting the Parkland model, before there was a parkland model Oregon closed loopholes there preventing anyone with a domestic violence or stalking conviction from buying guns whether they lived with, were married to or had children by the person or not, raising the age to buy firearms to 21; Florida after a 3 day waiting period, giving law enforcement the power to remove guns from people who make threats and allocating money to school security and mental health also arming select teachers. New Jersey passing an eyebrow raising 6 legislative measures post the March For Our Lives 2 making it easier for authorities to seize guns from potentially threatening, dangerous people, another banned all types of armor piercing bullets to better line up in accordance with federal standards, a 4th would lower ammo round batches in magazines, 5 and 6 required background checks for private gun sales and would mandate a legitimate need for a carry permit respectively. Vermont limited ammo clips, banned bump stock like devices, and raised the age to buy any gun. Maryland signed a flurry of legislation banning bump stocks, crafting and red flag law permitting persons to go before a judge and temporarily bar access to guns, plus 5 million in state funds for gun violence prevention programs. People are starting to understand the way things are is not the way things have to stay even when going up against something as powerful as the NRA, the gun lobby and the endless excuses of congress; and that’s nothing but a good thing. I agree with them, Nikolas Cruz should not have had a gun, been able to buy a gun, should have been on a list of people too mentally ill to buy a gun; the same way Seung Cho should not have been able to buy a gun and placed on an identical list, Jared Loughner should not have been permitted to own guns on a warning list, James Holmes exhibiting signs enough mental health professionals around him should have taken the above actions, Adam Lanza should never have been allowed around guns forget living in a home with many and his mother’s actions entirely negligent, Harper Mercer echoed in the lessons we didn’t learn. None of the people ultimately committing mass shootings, many of the almost committed ones should have had access to firearms or weapons of any kind, lone exception, Steven Paddock whose motive continues to baffle police. At the same time if the gun enthusiast wants to mount his AR-15 on a wall and regale neighbors on how he came to own the item that just so happens to be a gun, what do I care, if he wants to display it in his home the way others would place their bowling trophies on the mantle, their teacher of the year, employee of the month plaque on the wall, and that’s all he does besides maybe shooting inanimate targets at a shooting range, who am I to stop him merely because of his type of weapon; want to know why the ‘gun nut’ in the above video doesn’t bother me, because he keeps his permits current, has permits for all his weapons, has a huge expanse of property complete with shooting targets when he chooses to use them. And though his land is built like a Halloween horror attraction, no trespassing signs and dummy bodies making it clear what happens to any trespasser (in accordance with local law he has the right to defend his property) number of trespassers he’s shot- zero, number of people he’s shot forget killed-zero- number of schools, public places he’s shot up, shown any indication of wanting to shoot up- zero, despite his massive gun collection, ample access to number of people he’s threatened, thought about killing at least with a gun, for all intents and purposes-zero. Any accidents had only injuring himself; him arguable more careful than the average gun purchaser today independent age. Why all these positives amidst tons of guns, probably because he is not deranged, psychotic, suffering any mental illness, cognitive decline, he’s not facing recent loss, being older he’s established and not burdened under financial stresses, career plan derailments regularly facing young people just starting out, is either past or never experienced midlife crisis sort depression, erratic behavior middle of life reevaluation, or at minimum not in a negative, destructive fashion. The needle is moving, for now seemingly in a positive direction, as a fellow American citizen though I am concerned about the direction that needle is going in; because, like they never want to again be touched by gun violence, wouldn’t wish their experience on anyone except perhaps politicians who refuse to react, then only as a virtual reality simulation single purpose empathy begetting action, I too never want to know what it feels like to be shot, I don’t ever want to know what it feels like to see people shot in front of me, laying bleeding, possibly dying, too afraid to move from my hiding spot to help them, untrained in first aide so I don’t know how to help them (for someone else, trauma and shock causing any said training to flee their mind). And I’m infinitely sorry the parkland students and all the others touched by school violence, mass shooting violence, gang violence, other neighborhood violence know what that feels like period, forget at such tender ages. But I am also an American citizen who doesn’t want to know, someday be forced to find out what it is to have acid thrown in my face, over other parts of my body, be set on fire and wake up a year later still screaming in agony even after the medically induced coma has done all it can to spare me sanity stealing pain. Neither do I want that to be the fate of the next set of students whose only crime was getting up that day and going to school to be confronted with a mentally ill classmate, former student from years past, deranged intruder wielding any of the above and more; to have to watch as acid corrodes their best friend’s beautiful or hansom face, hear their screams as corrosive substances eat away 3 layers of flesh and work through bone before treatment can be administered. Watch their friends, fellow human beings engulfed in flames, see their flesh burn away amidst deafening screams that will haunt them to the end of their days, try to visit them in burn wards unable to recognize the person they once were against swaths of bandages, raw open wounds and slated to be amputated limbs rendered dead by the damage. Therefore I am an American citizen and don’t want to see the day when the Molotov cocktail replaces the drive by shooting, because we haven’t adequately dealt with the reasons behind the drive by; when people settle seemingly petty beefs, grievances, arguments and disputes with homemade flame throwers owing to you can easily turn a can of hairspray, colonel, body spray, select aerosol deodorants into a blowtorch, instant fire crackers. Types of paint, paint thinners and lighter fluid used on model cars, airplanes exc., to start a barbecue grill carry the same flammable properties, hair gel, mousse if you’ve ever read the warning on the label; far worse than guns in one aspect, storage improperly stored large quantities of these things, others besides can level an entire apartment complex succeeding in not only killing the person intent hurting fellow human being but far more innocents than might have originally been thought, think the gas line explosions rocking neighborhoods. IED’s (improvised explosive devices) remain things talked about in wars overseas; exactly how long do we think that will last if we systematically phase out ordinary person gun ownership, the logical progression of the parkland movement, we already know the devastation of things like the Boston marathon, the whole point of the article though I fervently wish I was wrong. I am an American citizen who equally hopes to never discover the effects, devastating impact of crush injuries, traumatic amputations and so forth from hammers, axes, machetes, nail guns picked up by persons 20, 30 years from now as the second generation from parkland finally revokes the idea of citizen owned guns, any time between now and then, now and the days ending citizen owned firearms when the person bent on destruction, murder, injury is too impatient to wait to buy a gun, doesn’t even think of a gun reaching for the things they know best, i.e. the contents of their tool shed; the 2015 New York man arrested for attacking a woman with a hammer was known to police to suffer from paranoia and schizophrenia proving if we don’t handle mental illness even in a post gun America people will still be hurt and potentially die by another’s hand, the woman saving her co-worker from a man with a hammer was probably on the tail end of a domestic dispute/abuse situation or intercepting a serial killer predator type like the golden state killer or the 1970’s child predator police are currently excavating woods to find his victims. Illustrating if we don’t deal with these things we will be right back where we started only finding it much harder to ban paints, paint thinners, knives and various hair care and personal grooming products, carpentry tools, crow bars and canes used by old men or women. We’ve conveniently forgotten you can lose your eyesight thanks to blows to the head from hammers, crowbars, canes just as easily as you can from bullets or acid. Morbid curiosity, which one is more costly for society, our healthcare system to treat gunshot wounds and all their lasting effects or the TBI’s (traumatic brain injury) normally seen in warzones soon to be commonplace on Main Street because we got rid of the gun and criminals, persons with violent tendencies improvised on a scale like never before? Contrary to the parkland manifesto, note none of the secret service suggestions for combatting school shootings involved gun laws, gun restrictions and would work combatting any mass shooting or workplace violence incident focusing instead on public and professional awareness, focusing on the specific behaviors potential shooters exhibit before they act, focused on educating the public to take seriously talk about committing a shooting, hero worship, research of school/mass shooters, easily practically added knowing whose supposed to be in a place more importantly who isn’t. I too am an American citizen and here is my manifesto: based on all of what we know regarding every school/ass shooting to date 1. fire persons found to have been derelict or incompetent in their jobs; in the Cruz case this extends to the FBI person who did not forward info, the social workers who were repeatedly in the Cruz home, did not ask relevant questions and kept seeing no need for him to be hospitalized, person or persons who refused Baker act requests submitted on him, recurring officers who answered those 20 calls never remitting him to a 72 hour hold, any recurrent hospital personnel who rejected holds on him, rejects holds on similar persons in the future. Fire the police officers who did not go into the home of Kevin Jensen Neal and do so much as a cursory look for guns, ask him questions about what his neighbors were hearing, fire the administrator giving the press conference spouting the BS about needing to see him reckless with a gun before arrest, withhold all increased military funding until they correct their domestic violence database backlog and fire the persons responsible for letting that state of affairs continue. Fire the FBI agents who investigated the New Mexico high school shooter the year before deeming him no threat and referring him/his family to no further help. Investigate the mental health facility who evaluated Esteban Santiago and fire the person who deemed him free to go 4 days later with his gun. 2. School and mental health personnel managers know privacy laws in your state and, like sex ed. talks with young people, review them early and often with those you supervise. 3. New laws, A- federal guidelines school counselors cannot be fired, removed from schools, especially pre-k though 12, for budget reasons the same way we cavalierly remove art, music and P.E., to do so is to forfeit federal funding. B- Numbers of school counselors should mirror student teacher ratios so counselors are not 1 per district, 1 per school the size of Stoneman Douglas leaving lesser degree mentally ill children falling through the cracks. C- Every school nationwide mandated to have a licensed therapist psychiatrist capable of prescribing medication to evaluate severely troubled students and expedite care, again ration of counselors commiserate with number of students identified as needing that level of help. D- at both the high school and college level any violent student thought to be a mass violence risk who drops out or is expelled means notifying police; police who then have as history like the one associated with the Cruz home able to remit for a psychotic hold. 4. People who have files with local social services like the one checking on Nikolas Cruz as a vulnerable adult with mental illness must be notified when elements of their stability permitting them to stay at home change, are for any reason removed; example when he was expelled from Stoneman Douglas, when his mother died, chief reason the latter didn’t happen isn’t because it wasn’t known it was because there was no mandate necessitating it. Had they done so they might have noticed his deteriorating mental state, had grounds to Baker Act him before he killed 17 people. 5. Public education and awareness campaigns, television, streaming service public service announcements about what signs to look for in a would-be mass shooter and what to do if you do see it, complete with local numbers to call, regular similar PSA’s on mental illness and where locally to receive help; we still have too many people who see and don’t say a word, only mange to call police overworking them, there were no end of concerned neighbors who thought Cruz was the last person who should have a gun but few reported him despite the volume of police calls, police were not who needed to hear what was happening with him. 6. All adults who let this go on without so much as a word against it, all the ones who are prone to seeing headlines involving the bad thing a vapid teen did and calling for their prosecution to the fullest extent of the law and far worse, you know you are the ones in online comments, sometimes on camera shouting about what barbaric punishment should be visited upon them, maiming, castration, burning alive, vicious beatings, life in prison the top 5— stop pretending you have the moral high ground or your opinion should be given any weight, credence, credibility. You don’t when you agree the slender man stabbing suspects should have been tried as adults regardless their mental status, when you never tune back in to hear all the story, new information, just begin spouting about back in my day or my parents would have… think like prosecutors the appropriate punishment for Cruz is the death penalty knowing all the missteps had concerning him, the mental illness he suffered from. Interesting the parkland sheriff stated at an event 18 year olds didn’t need guns they were kids in high school but his fellow law enforcement officers and too high a percentage of the American public rush to try perpetrators as young as 12, the age of the defendants in the slender man case, as adults; make up your mind it can be one or the other not both. 7. All adults stop telling your sons, the boys, young men in your neighborhood, in your orbit to ‘man up,’ stop talking about how the world is going to hell in a hand basket because emerging adults do things differently don’t believe in the masculinity you hide behind, stop calling this generation vapid and lazy and selfish and look in the mirror, the selfishness of baby boomers and early gen Xers gave us the mess we are cleaning up. Quoting again from the New York Times op-ed author describing the LA program they saw, “After my trip five years ago, I wrote a story about the Los Angeles program and others like it and left feeling hopeful that even if our society can’t stop school shootings altogether, we can certainly reduce their frequency. The horrific shooting in Parkland raises the question of whether we are serious about trying.” No the right people aren’t trying, trying near enough, trying in the right areas, that’s the problem.