Monday, December 12, 2011

Another School Shooting in Virginia

Another school shooting; this time a Virginia Tech police officer, Deriek Crouse, is dead, shot by an obviously mentally disturbed student from Radford University, Ross Truett Ashley. Ashley went on to kill himself with the same gun. Authorities have not released details about Ashley and his motive, but it is clear even without knowing those details, that he was a deeply troubled.

That the shooter was mentally disturbed should be no surprise. An examination of all the campus killers uncovers some form of psychoses. Eric Harris at Columbine, Peter Odighizuwa at the Appalachian School of Law, and Cho Seng-Hui at Tech—all suffered from mental disorders.

The need for better mental care was stressed in findings after both Columbine and after the 2007 shootings at Tech. In fact, a key element to tackling the problem of campus safety centers on better mental health care, identifying those who are a danger to themselves and others, and getting them the care they need before they kill.

But Richmond has not lived up to promises made following the 2007 massacre to allocate more resources to mental health treatment. The truth is, Virginia now spends less on mental health than it did before April 16, 2007.

Governor McDonnell wants to weaken Virginia’s mental health care through privatization. McDonnell, to my knowledge, has never put forward any meaningful proposals on how to keep weapons out the hands of those who would do violence to themselves or others. In a state plagued by campus shootings, McDonnell doesn’t have a clue about what to do.

McDonnell did propose a jingle contest to promote safety awareness. We see how well the jingle worked on December 8th. His answer to everything is pure ideology—privatize everything including mental health, even if it does endanger our children on campus.

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