There are no easy solutions to ending gun violence. The causes are numerous: lack of mental health care, failure to recognize these shootings are a male-related crisis (97% of the mass shootings are done by males), no universal background checks for people buying guns, and politicians who have sold out to gun manufacturers and the National Riffle Association (NRA).
The sharp rise in gun violence can be pinpointed to the states’ cutting back mental health care services and facilities. In many instances people who are a threat to themselves or others have no place to go. In Virginia the mental health care system is so dysfunctional that when state Senator Creigh Deeds tried to get his son committed for treatment, he was told there was no bed available. In fact beds were available. Within 24 hours of being denied treatment, Deed’s son seriously wounded his father and then killed himself.
Despite the promises in Richmond to allocate more resources to mental health following the Virginia Tech rampage, the state spends less on mental health care today than it did on the eve of April 16, 2007. Innocent people are mowed down in places of learning and houses of prayer; we wring our hands, cry, and pray. Our legislators cut funds for mental heath care despite the near unanimous opinion by mental health care experts that we could dramatically cut all crimes if we put a major effort behind broadening the availability and quality of mental health care.
There are no cheap fixes to the problem of gun violence, but one thing is clear, letting a student kill others is an abdication of responsibility and authority.
The slaughter goes on. (To be continued)