Saturday, December 15, 2012

Not only gun control, but mental health services...

In the wake of the horrific tragedy in Newtown yesterday, there will be calls for tighter gun control. I am 100% behind that. Recent laws that preserve the gun show loophole and broaden concealed-carry permissions are a travesty. This isn't about constitutional rights to preserve the ability to field a well-regulated militia. This isn't about folks who go out in the woods to take a wild turkey or a buck in season. This is about acquiring guns that serve no purpose but to kill other human beings, and getting to carry them in all sorts of places that surely don't need to have guns in them.

But the other part of the equation in trying to reduce the number of tragedies like yesterday's (number 13, if you count ones in Norcross GA, Chardon OH, Pittsburgh, Oakland, Tulsa, Seattle, Aurora CO, Oak Creek WI, College Station TX, Minneapolis, the ironically named Happy Valley OR, and Newtown) is getting whole lot more serious about providing mental health services to those who need them.

I know what you're thinking: we can't force troubled people to get these services. But we can make them available, especially for young people as they begin to manifest some difficult mental illnesses that may open them to turn into Adams and Jareds and Chos. We can make it possible for them to have residential treatment when appropriate, and medications that mitigate the effects of their illnesses. We can recognize that sometimes folks are a little odd, and then there are those who are more deeply troubled. We can love them all, and we can also provide help for parents who are trying to sort out "quirky" from "something's really wrong here."

 Until we do, these stories will continue to horrify us.

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