Thursday, January 24, 2013

Examining US mental health system critical precursor to gun control


It does not make sense that this country is not working feverishly to improve the mental health system when it accounts for so many gun deaths.  In all the mass shootings from columbine to Newtown’s Sandy Hook Elementary School, this predictable demon continues to raise its ugly head and kill innocent people.  In the case of Newtown, 20 little children only six and seven.  There are two groups that will always get guns somehow, the mentally ill and the bad guys, but we must at least make it harder for each to obtain the weapons with which they do their destruction.

As an example, just a few days ago, Christian Oberender from Minnesota was arrested for having an arsenal of guns in his home including an AK-47 assault rifle.  He was able to get a gun permit just last year and build this arsenal of 12 weapons in less than a year.  The catch is that at age 14, in 1995, he had killed his mother with a shotgun, shooting her five times.  Oberender was determined to be mentally ill and dangerous at the time and was placed in an institution for an extended stay.  He has again been diagnosed with a serious mental illness and “potential schizophrenia.” 

Here’s an example of his ramblings in a letter from Oberender to his mother thought to have been recently written:

“I am so homicide,'' and "I think about killing all the time. The monster want out. He only been out one time and someone die.''

Minnesota has a law that requires sending mental health records to the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS).  Either the state was negligent in its transfer of the data, or those approving gun permits were negligent in either receiving or retrieving the data.  In any case, this is a prime example of how the system failed and must be fixed.

Excellent video from Bloomberg on guns and mental health:

Former Arkansas Gov. and presidential contender Mike Huckabee believes that since "we have systematically removed God from our schools, should we be so surprised that schools would become a place of carnage?"  This is the kind of crap you would expect from a conservative trying to take the focus off gun control.  Michael Kimmel on CNN said, “As if those heathen children deserved it?”  Kimmel also reminds us that almost all the recent mass murderers targeting non-work settings—like schools—were middle class white boys.  Not from the ghetto.  From upscale middle America.

Here are some more facts that Kimmel has collected.  Men and boys are responsible for 95% of all violent crimes and there is concern why so many of these young mass murderers are white.  While black kids are killing each other in the ghettos, it “seems to be nearly the exclusive province of white boys to so dramatically expand the range of their revenge and seek to destroy the entire world, not simply the person or group that committed the supposed offense.”  Not that race and gender are the primary concern; that remains the lax gun laws and mental illness.

So the only conclusion to be reached here is that a combination of federal and state laws must be enacted that will require the reporting of the mental health records of those people affected to NCIS and any other appropriate databases that are involved in determining whether or not a person should possess a firearm.  The laws must be stringent enough to discourage any lax participation by those charged with enforcement resulting in the proper punishment for those who don’t comply.  Only then will we be secure in at least knowing we’ve done all we can.

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