Thursday, August 27, 2015

Not About Racism, Not About Guns, It's About Mental Illness

Anchor Parker, and Cameraman Ward, in happier times.    I have not published the photographs of the killer because I don't believe we should glorify what they have done to others who may be mentally ill.

        I have so little confidence in standard American news that I wasn't watching so I didn't hear about the on air Roanoke area shooting until Euronews brought it to me.  It was surreal to see such a thing announced by a European news outlet speaking of an area I recognized,  not all that far from where I live. Smith Mountain Lake is a lovely area.  Of course, the Euronews has an agendic spin......... Implied is "See what happens when mere humans are allowed to have guns?".   My answer would be, "why in the US, where police often can't get out to such a vast area, would you ever have a remote broadcast without having your own handgun ?"  I live in this area, and in all honesty, if I can't go somewhere with a concealed weapon, I won't go there.  A high end jeweler at Christmastime last year was upset when I rang the bell to enter, and when I saw the handguns prohibited sign returned to my car. She followed me out to the car thinking that I had waited too long to have the door opened. I told her that I have a concealed weapons permit and it would be unsafe for me to leave my weapon in the car, security system or not, so I won't ever be able to shop in her store. It is not safe for most women to be out in the world without a weapon, and without sufficient training to use it properly. We hear about mentally unstable people who use guns to murder people in an active shooter scenario. We don't hear about the ever growing number of abductions, rapes and murders that are prevented when the potential victim pulls a weapon and improves or equalizes their own chance of survival.

                      The assailant in the Roanoke shooting was named Vester Flanagan.  He had worked as a a television announcer a few years ago at the station in question, and used the on air name Bryce Williams.  From information he faxed to other news outlets in advance of the shooting, he felt that he had been fired a few years ago from his television job as a result of prejudice against gay men and against blacks.(His words, not my own)  Several sources claim the man "had anger issues".   Apparently, although the man in his early forties had worked in other jobs since, his firing was a festering wound which furthur deteriorated his mental state.  News reports say that  he bought a gun a couple of days after the Charleston church shooting, and his statements indicate that he feared attacks against blacks.  How ironic that a man who said he feared racial violence killed a twenty-four year old young news reporter and a twenty-seven year old cameraman who are reported to have been the very best of friends. He perpetrated the very type of insane violence and injustice he feared !  He also shot the woman they had been interviewing, in the back.

                    Mental illness isn't confined to people who have been fired from a job. It isn't confined to gays. It isn't confined to blacks. The internet age may enhance the mental deterioration of some of these mentally ill individuals as it may leave them less actual contact with other human beings.  Years ago, a withdrawn or persistently angry person would have had contact with a friend or relative who would have told them it was time to get help.  The internet may add an extra veil for these people, sometimes even validating the mentally unhealthy perspectives and disordered thinking they usually exhibit.

                 It's ironic that our first biracial president has done more to underscore racial differences than we could have imagined.  In many parts of Virginia, whites and blacks work together well. Biracial families are common, although the white spouses are often targets of nasty comments by black women who think the pool of black men should be left for them.  Mr. Obama has had even those who were adapted and thriving wondering if racism has impacted their lives.

                 The answer is not to furthur restrict guns allowing the very people who need to protect themselves to have fewer options.  Perhaps the answer in this case is to educate employers that when you fire someone, that a security contractor should speak with them in a terminal interview.  People who perpetrate violence either just after a firing or some time after are usually assessed at high risk for doing so IF they have come to the attention of s savvy security contractor. The field is called protective intelligence and threat assessment. People who are going to act out after a firing usually give pretty clear indications that they aren't operating normally.  The fact that when fired, Mr. Flanagan or Williams if he is on air, wouldn't leave the premises until the police were called to escort him.  This was a bloody red flag.

  One of the best companies for threat assessment work is: