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I have a number of close friends in Colorado, oddly all centered in about the same region. Most of us remember when in September of 1999, a shooting at Columbine High School there took the lives of 15 people including the perpetrators. Twenty one people were injured, some of them permanently. Some time afterward, there was the New Life Church shooting in Colorado Springs. Now, there has been a horrible shooting at a midnight matinee of the latest Batman film, by of all things, a University of Colorado Phd student of neuroscience, who has recently withdrawn from the program in which he was enrolled. Fifty people are said to have been injured, and 12 are comfirmed dead. Despite the late hour, many of the victims are children,
An old friend of mine who lives in Colorado would say that since many of these cities are a mile high, (Denver and environs are 5,280 feet above sea level) that the oxygen level being provided to the brains of some people, is so minimal that it causes them to act up. Of course, she was kidding. I don't really think that Colorado has too many more events of this type than the rest of us do. The Virginia Tech Massacre in which a lone insane gunman shot professors and students, producing a death toll of 33 with 27 injured, occurred in April, 2007. Please note that I have deliberately excluded the names of any of the perpetrators of these crimes. I think that by making the gunmen famous, that in the minds of these mentally ill individuals, that we immortalize or glorify their actions, and therefore I omit them from the discussion whenever possible.
I think before we decide that guns are dangerous devices, we need to realize that many more people are protected by guns each years than are killed by them. The next step after guns would be to impound all steak knives in the event that hungry people waiting for dinner feel compelled to stab the cook. What I think we could use in the US, is a revisitation of our laws regarding mental illness. In some states, forcing a person to get mental health help, is almost impossible. Of COURSE, it should not be too easy to commit a family member for inpatient treatment, or people in dysfunctional families would do it more often than is rational. However, I know MANY families where a mentally ill person has developed a pattern of avoidance of their family in order to sidestep mental health assessment, treatment and regular medication. A few of these people may wind up killing someone someday.
Many years ago, when I was a child, my mother had a friend who was a schoolteacher. Unknown to us was the fact that her husband, and the father of her two children, was being treated with medication for schizophrenia. One day, before leaving for work, she asked him if he had taken his pills, and this made him angry. He then strangled her in front of their two children. Although we cannot hope to prevent all of the actions that people experiencing mental illness might take, many people who are killed by relatives, have complained to law enforcement and to psychiatrists and friends that they feared being killed by the mentally ill person, and police were powerless to intervene BEFORE someone was injured or killed. I would venture to guess that there is a mother or a parent out there who fears that her son, brother, husband, uncle or father who she think could, under the right set of circumstances, plan and execute a mass killing. The problem is, she would likely not be believed until AFTER such an attack.
So, Colorado is probably no more dangerous than it ever was. Anything can happen anywhere, at any time. My family and I send sincere prayers and good wishes to those in Colorado who have been impacted by todays occurrances at the theater shooting. May God bless those who are impacted.
Let's make the focus of this mental health, not guns. I need my gun to defend myself and my family against nuts who would do such a thing.