Monday, May 26, 2014

Do Not

Police and sheriff officers are already overloaded with all the stuff they have to know and do to enforce the laws in their jurisdiction, do not make them be psychiatrists too. They don't have the academic and clinical experience to evaluate anyone for a mental condition other than the obvious, and the record has shown in many incidents they still get that wrong and almost always use force than reason.

And do not make them the front line to make legal decisions as to the mental state of a person without due process and ensuring their rights, otherwise, they're only guessing, and almost always, wrong on that too. They do not have the knowledge or experience to know the suite of laws, regulations and policies of the state for their jurisdiction.

The police acted correctly when they assessed Elliot Rodger in an interview and did not acquire a search warrant or ask to search his apartment. They had no legal cause to do either, and if they had any suspicions, they had every obligation to report them to the District Attorney's office for further action and only then excuted any search warrant if the DA obtained one.

My point is that we shouldn't blame the system for one person. As the history of the country with guns has shown, normal looking and acting people can legally acquire a mass of weapons and ammuntion without raising alarms or  causing suspicions. Any laws to identify and stop someone like Roger would be overly burdensome for local law enforcement and district attorneys.

What Elliot Rodger showed us is that there are ways anyone can acquire weapons to do a mass shooting within the law, even within the most restrictive laws, we could enact let alone imagine. We shouldn't make the many who suffer from a variety of mental health conditions subject to additional scrutiny unless there is an obvious risk to others.

We shouldn't put mental health professionals on the front line to report their clients or patients unless there they determine there is a risk from that person, and there already are sufficient laws for them to do that, but do not put the 99+% of those getting therapy at risk for being labelled by law enforcement and district attorneys when and where there is no clear evidence.

Any action to do so, as we heard from many politicians, would further alienate those needing and wanting therapy and those in therapy. The vast majority of those people will simply stop therapy for fear of losing their legal rights and protections under the laws and the Constitution. They're not the enemy, the single person who commits mass shootings are.

That's the reality we live in, one person can quietly live and go live unnoticed until they act out their hate and anger. We've seen this with home-grown terrorists (eg. Timothy McVeigh) and the many mass shootings which occur every year. This is our reality, and there are many good reasons why and many good ways to reduce it. 

It's not 100% preventable, otherwise, everyone will be required to be regularly evaluated for their mental stability, and we know that's not foolproof. So let's not kid ourselves into thinking it's preventable in a climate of nearly unrestricted access to guns courtesy of the lobbying and political efforts NRA and other gun rights organizations.

Any solutions must deal with that issue in a responsible way. Let's remember more people die in this country almost daily than any one mass shooting, many by family members or friends in domestic violence cases, many in sudden acts of rage or anger, and many in some neighborhoods in cities.

The answer to the quesion, "How many more mass shootings must we have?", is easy, until we get the politicians to agree to reasonable laws for the sheer quanitity of guns in this country and the easy legal and illegal accessibility to them. There are no soundbites or simply solutions, it's in our culture, and that's where we should start.

No comments:

Post a Comment