Navy Shipyard Shooting

I wanted to pass my condolences on to the friends and family of those that were senselessly killed in the Navy Shipyard shooting that occurred yesterday, September 16th, 2013. I hope you find comfort and strength as you grieve the loss of your loved ones.

I will admit that I have not followed the talking heads closely enough to know all the information about the shooting and even if I did, it is a race to get as much information out as quickly as possible to the public, regardless of its validity. Nice journalism there. But, it was no shock when the media immediately became focused on the use of a gun in the shooting. Now, again, I haven’t followed the scenario closely, but immediately heard the magic word of “AR-15” which equates to “Assault Rifle” and later heard the individual had a shotgun. This became the focus of the media, because as those of us who are aware, this fits the media agenda of gun control. Yes, looking at the FBI statistics, 71% of homicides in 2009 occurred due to firearms. I can look at the facts too and not solely fit my agenda. But, it is also must be understood that these types of random mass murders are rare. They seem more common today but that’s because we live in an internet age where everything that is happening unfolds in front of us on TV, the internet, our smartphone, and any other device you want to insert. So, as much as 20 years ago we would only hear about major events in L.A., Chicago, New York and the like and maybe hear about others a few days later in our local paper, or perhaps, not hear anything at all. But now, everything that happens in Timbuktu and Mayberry is center page news.

Something else to note is that most individuals killed know their killer. There is a media driven myth that we should all be worried about strangers and what they might do to us, but perhaps we need to worry about those we do know as much as guns! The same statistics indicate that almost 43 percent of individuals knew their killer with only about 12 percent being killed by a stranger. Seems like all media driven agendas aren’t true, eh? The relationship was unknown in about 43 percent of homicides. So, there is no denying that firearms play a role, but killing is occurring, especially between individuals that know each other. Let’s take a closer look. Do you need a gun to kill someone? Do you need even need a “weapon?” Anything can be used as a weapon – including one’s own bare hands to either strike or strangle. I heard a report a few months ago about a mass killing in a Wal-Mart in California where like 4-5 people were stabbed to death but since that didn’t fit the media’s gun control agenda it wasn’t widely reported – I couldn’t even find an article to share on the blog. Killing is a problem, regardless of the medium. Since the topic of gun control always seems to follow on the heels of mass murder scenarios, let’s circle back and dig further into those types of scenarios. But first, here are the FBI statistics I provided.

Today, it came as no surprise to me, when the media made a mere passing mention that the suspect, while not being medically diagnosed as having a mental disorder, was in fact suffering from paranoia and “hearing voices.”Sound familiar? Similar scenarios played out recently at Virginia Tech, Arizona, Aurora, Colorado, as well as in the killing of John Lennon in New York and the assassination attempt on Ronald Reagan, both over 30 years ago. In all scenarios described above, and more I didn’t list, the individuals suffered from sort of mental disorder, thus affecting their judgement. Obviously, mental illness and killing have been a problem for a long time.

If you want to explore guns, why are some people who have been known either through hospital records and/or court records to be mentally disturbed, still able to purchase weapons legally? It is a system failure. The issue is that the dirty secret of this country is that we don’t care, or want to care or deal with mentally affected patients. We simply stick these individuals to the side, give them a hearty pat on the back, and wish them well and hope for the best. Maybe we don’t need “hope,” maybe we need action. Seung-Hui Cho’s medical records detail a troubled history of suicidal thoughts as well as a stay in a psych ward yet very little of this was discussed at the time of the shooting at Virginia Tech in 2007. Proactive legislation from then Governor Tim Kaine was put in place so that individuals who received court ordered mental treatment, must be placed into a database to prevent them from being legally being allowed to purchase a weapon. Now, that is a proactive measure that will help.  Here is the source for that information.

Finally, what can we do to help the mentally ill? The old solution was to stick them in decrepit prisons and let them rot in deplorable conditions. That isn’t the answer. Letting them walk the streets and pretending we can neither see or hear them and then act surprised when they violate the rules of our society isn’t the answer either. If individuals aren’t able to follow the basic mores, norms, and rules of our society due mental disturbances, we shouldn’t be surprised when these individuals can’t even take care of themselves and progress to more extreme situations, such as murder. We have an issue in this country and that is we don’t know how to deal with mentally affected individuals. We need to be more proactive in helping these individuals but how? Normally, I don’t like to point out problems unless I can come up with a solution. But, in this case, I don’t have the perfect solution. I am only one person. I do know the first issue is we need to recognize this is an issue and it needs to be addressed. Together, by recognizing the problem, working to put in preventative measures like the legislation discussed above, and seeking answers to the problem as a whole, maybe everyone can be helped. No plan will be fool proof or 100 percent effective. Killing is a problem in this country. Take away guns and people will use knives. Take away knives and people will use something else. People don’t fear the law in this country or its repercussions. That’s an issue with the justice system that is a topic for another day.

But I do know that ignoring an obvious problem in front of us and hoping it will go magically go away will only create more of these scenarios. The time to wake up and act is now. Let’s stop pretending that guns are the only issue and let’s find a way to help those who are mentally ill and help protect them from themselves, for their own being and all of ours.

Again, my condolences to the families and friends of those killed. I honor your memory.

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