“Then someone came and told us to run down the hallway. There were police at every door. There were lots of people crying and screaming.The officers led children past the carnage. “They said ‘Close your eyes, hold hands.’”
How many times do we have to repeat this scene before we tell the ideologues who run the NRA that they no longer have a veto on gun legislation? Even the rank and file of the NRA believe in background checks to keep criminals and the mentally ill from getting access to firearms. But Wayne LaPierre and his minions want to protect the right of gun show dealers to sell to anyone with no background checks needed. This has to stop. Congress needs to pass a bill with the following pieces, now.
- No gun show loopholes for background checks
- Ban assault rifles
- Ban large magazines for semi automatics
This is at least a start. One other matter that needs our attention is the care for the mentally ill. Most of the mass murderers in the past two decades were severely disturbed men, in some stage of Schizophrenic Breakdown. Clearly Adam Lanza fits the profile perfectly;the loner with the overly protective mother, who probably bought the guns for him, never realizing they would be used to end her own life and those of her beloved students. In the 1970’s Ronald Reagan decided to change the way we treat mental illness in America.
The Reagan and subsequent state administrations promoted the trend to community-based care by closing nine state mental hospitals; only five remain in operation today. Between 1957 and 1984, the California state hospital population dropped 84%. Together, these developments placed the primary clinical responsibility for mental health care on the counties, which were forced to rely for the bulk of their funding on the State.
In our state we can directly track the rise of homelessness to Reagan’s action and when he became President he carried out the same philosophy.
In 1980, congress proposed new legislation (PL 96-398) called the community mental health systems act (crafted by Ted Kennedy), but the program was killed by newly-elected President Ronald Reagan. This action ended the federal community mental health centers program and its funding.
By putting the responsibility to care for the mentally ill in the hands of cities and towns we have essentially decided to wash our hands of the issue, leaving it to the police to lock up the most severely disturbed. We must understand that the combination of paranoid disorders and drugs like Methamphetamine are deadly. It could also be that the combination of paranoid disorders and first person shooter games are also toxic, because a kid like Adam Lanza had rehearsed the scene of his killing hundreds of times on the screen before pulling the real triggers.
Finally, on the issue of gun control, it is time for the politicians to stop cowering in fear from the NRA and pass legislation quickly.