Wednesday, 26 December 2012

Guns, Mental Illness & Sandy Hook

I find myself really hating most of the news stations and websites I frequent in recent weeks. All because of the shooting at the Sandy Hook Elementary School.

First off let me say I really have a lot of woe and compassion for what all the families are going through. They are hurting, and we as onlookers are hurting as well. I think this insident will go down as sadly go down as one of the horrific days of this century, not quite on the scale of 911, but pretty close. Mostly because of the age of the victims, and their pure innocence and potential that lost with them.

What angers me is how the various news channels and individuals on Facebook and other websites use this insident (and other past insidents like them) to push their agenda, by manipulating the facts of this tragedy to make their point. I cannot even look at my facebook feed without stupid comments about how if we just had gun control, more guns, locked up all the crazy people, had prayer in school, etc etc, we would would never have another shooting ever like this. If only it were that simple.

Gun Control.

Controlling guns is not going to work, simply because it is the law abiding people who will pay attention to the gun control issues. When ever we try to regulate things, like alcohol during Prohibition, all it does is make the criminal element take it underground. The problen does not go away, it in fact gets worse, because some criminals decide to start making money off of the sales of the illegal items.

More Guns

This is not going to solve the issue either. It will just make people more paranoid; more on edge. More willing to shoot first, then ask questions. Not everyone is trained to shoot. When you look at law enforcement, not everyone there is allowed to carry a firearm. What makes us think we have more rights? More sanity? More skills, than someone who is professionally trained to do this. If an FBI agent or Police Officer has to pass certain criteria to gain a gun, and can lose it just as easily -- we should not expect that each and every one of us should have the ability to discert who to shoot and who not to. Vigilante justice is not the answer.

Locking Up The Crazy People

Mental Health is a big touchy subject for many. I grew up in a family with major mental health issues. My father has confirmed Multiple Personality Disorder. My mother-in-law has BiPolar Disorder. There are also several schizophrenics, and a lot of depression in the family. At least a dozen family members have been hospitalized short term (and a few long term) in mental health facities. Locking people up without helping them does not good to anyone. Yes it makes people on the outside feel safer, but it does not solve the problem, and it only helps with those that are severe enough to be diagnosed and institutionalized -- you usually have to be pretty sick to be locked up against your will; most of these people who have committed crimes would not have met the diagnostic criteria if they were tested prior to the crime.

What is needed is better services for mental health clients. Better diagnostics. More therapists. More beds for those who need residental treatment. Especially in smaller communities, those with poorer resourses, higher First Nations populations, or other at-risk factors. And yes, for the few that do need to be locked up, there does need to be more facilites for secure lockup. But within those facilities it cannot just be hold and maintain, it must be a full treatment facility, with the best care for these people. We need to give as much care and fundraising to mental health as we give to breast cancer and other less stigmatized illnesses. We need to accept that there is nothing wrong with being mentally ill, and there is nothing wrong with getting help for it. And we need to put the money into fixing the gaps we have greated in the systems, over years of neglect, when we as a society have refused to deal with this issue until it is to big to ignore. Mental Health problems probably affects more families than cancer -- we just refuse to acknowledge it. We have been taught to ignore it. look the other way. But it will not go away. It never does.

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