This country can longer stand by and allow the Adam Lanzas of our neighborhoods to continue to fall through our educational and mental health cracks, while we, as tax payers, parents, relatives, elected officials, educators, and professional care givers continue to mourn for places like Colorado, Oregon and Newtown, Connecticut… all victims of gun violence.
Reducing violence by guns is an extremely complex issue. Resolution must be the result of commitment, input and planning from a cross section of society to include all those directly or indirectly affected by violence, which may include: youth, parents, legislators, health and non health professionals and representatives from across a broad section of institutions.
Enacting assault weapons and mega load ammunition restrictions is certainly headed in the right direction in protecting society, especially its youth. The most recent proposed background checks and controls by President Obama make common sense, but by it self, it will not be enough to curb violence by weapons.
Those identified as having mental health issues, either through background checks, screening in schools, government, and health care institutions will need increased access to diagnosis, therapy and care. A closer look at the complex issues involving access will be necessary if long term change is to occur. Some obvious places to begin looking would be those factors influencing access, such as 1) availability and willingness of trained professionals to meet the demand; 2) willingness as further influenced by inadequate reimbursement for long term support for either in-patient and out- patient care; and 3) sites for in-patient care are too often only available to the wealthy, not dependent upon insurance, while prison systems occasionally end up providing limited care for the poor.
A few decades ago, these long term institutions closed their doors and put ten of thousands out on the street with the well documented assumption that out-patient care was more cost effective. As mentioned above, availability of providers to meet the demand has been inadequate. It may be time to revisit the long term care model, but on a regional basis with selective mental health demographics being the basis for identifying the demand and selecting a site. Let’s reopen some of the mental institutions that have been closed across the United States and may still be viable.
Changes in attitude toward the impact of violent movies, video games and TV cop shows must have high priority as well. The first amendment does not condone falsely yelling fire in a crowded theater. The amendment should also be interpreted to include media vehicles, which over past decades, have fostered violence as the “new normal”, thus making violent behavior more acceptable in our society.