Is Mental Health the Real Issue That Needs to Be Addressed After Mass Shootings?

After a mass shooting, the first issue that comes up for debate is gun control, but shouldn't we really be addressing the mental health issues behind the person pulling the trigger?

The country is still in shock over Friday's massacre in Connecticut and already the debate on gun control has kicked into high gear. But shouldn't we look at the perpetrator and what prompted his actions in the first place? Shouldn't the first debate be about mental health issues and how to address them?

Authorities say Adam Lanza, 20, shot and killed his mother that morning and then drove to Sandy Hook Elementary School to commit the horrific killing spree before killing himself. According to initial reports, Lanza appeared to have had some mental problems prior to the shooting, but it is difficult to say that it would have predicted this.

Authorities also say that the guns Lanza used had been purchased legally, and he was actually stopped from purchasing another rifle by existing gun laws. He appeared to have circumvented school security measures by forcing his way into the building. He appeared intend on doing what he did and gun laws and security measures were unable to stop him.

Gawker.com had a poignant story titled "I am Adam Lanza's Mother." It is authored by someone going by the name of Lisa Long and chronicles her attempts to deal with a child struggling with mental illness. Someone born to her. Someone whom she loves - but is scared of just the same. Her own child - a potential Adam Lanza.

Instead of rushing to address gun laws, shouldn't the mental health system be the first issue that needs to be addressed?

George Wilson December 17, 2012 at 02:46 PM
Today, elected officials at every level of government must get serious about gun control and mental health services. There is so much to be done to minimize this happening in another community. There is so much to be learned from other countries that experience very little school violence and gun crime. Mental illness is no longer a closeted disease. Cutbacks in services are negligent on the part of politicians. The public must demand immediate action on both these fronts.
Patricia Sabin December 17, 2012 at 02:48 PM
The problem and solutions are multifaceted and complicated. We do not have a safety net for people with mental illnesses and their families. If the family is fortunate enough to have good health insurance, it may not cover any mental illness. A large number of our country's homeless people have some degree of mental illness, and we have an entire generation of combat vets coming home with PTSD or traumatic brain injuries. I think we also need to ask what has changed in the last 30-40 years. I'm no expert, but it seems pretty obvious that the increasing violence in video games and movies, combined with the ease of purchasing semi-automatic handguns and assault weapons, are factors. I accept that some people feel that they need a handgun for protection, and I accept that some people enjoy killing animals, but I don't know why anyone needs a semi-automatic weapon unless he/she hopes for an opportunity to use it on another human being one day. If that person were my neighbor, I would feel very uneasy. I think these weapons should only be in the hands of police and military personnel.
Ed Thomas December 17, 2012 at 03:56 PM
I just heard the president say that we as a country have to put politics aside, and call for some "meaningful action" in the future to prevent further tragedies like the one in Newtown, Conn. Friday. Here is the "meaningful action" that I recommend that you call for, Mr. President. Call for a nation to repent of the sins of our culture that produce monsters of destruction. Call on your Hollywood friends, Mr. President who continue to flood our nation with violence, hate, and abuse to turn their skills to promoting righteousness, purity, love, and peace; call on the leaders of public education to put God back at the center of our school systems; call for those of your political party who war against Christianity to stand down and, call on the patriotic Christians to step up to the challenge of leading America in a new direction, the opposite of which it is going today. And lastly Mr. President, as a husband and father, take the lead in your own household and lead the nation out of this racial, cultural, spiritual war that we are in, and be the example to the land of a man whose heart has come under the control of the Holy Spirit. Bring dignity back to your office, and help bring sanity back to our nation. Make this Christmas the most Christ centered Christmas in our history, and help turn something demonic into the beginning of a national spiritual awakening. In Jesus' name I ask for this. God will back you up if you will lead...
Ed Thomas December 17, 2012 at 04:10 PM
Patricia, the Framers of the Constitution did not create the 2nd Amendment for hunting or for self protection. The 2nd Amendment did not have any clause/clauses in it about what kind of firearms, weapons, or how many we could own. “We The People” have the unalienable right to possess, carry and own any type of firearm we choose. Mainly to secure the rights of the people (everyone) to own firearms, not only for self-defense, but to insure that our government does not make us slaves to their policies. We have the right to defend ourselves and our Nation from any form of tyrannical government that would remove our rights/freedoms and try to enslave us. The primary step for a government taking control of a nation is removing guns from its citizens.
Good Grief Y'all December 17, 2012 at 04:19 PM
There are many facets to the problem and the solutions. Priorities should be set to deal with immediate security issues, mental health focus, but it has also to do with cultural and personal values degeneration. And, sorry, but assault-style weapons are at the center of these tragedies. We as a nation need to address the hard facts to find and enact what will be unpopular, politically divisive solutions. On the mental health front, we should ask what is going wrong with our young men who perpetrate these horrible acts. A look back at the first occurrences in modern times to 1998, pre-Columbine) will show that the school shootings were carried out by young men. It seems that women who resort to violence turn on themselves and their immediate family or friends and don't commit massacre. Why is that?
Sandra Greer December 17, 2012 at 05:41 PM
Mental health needs to reevaluate mental disorders and guns in the house.
Good Grief Y'all December 17, 2012 at 06:02 PM
Mr. President asked that politics be put aside. Let's start there. The POTUS is not our spiritual leader, but he is a Christian, which guides his conscience. Judge not, lest ye be judged.
John Daniel December 17, 2012 at 10:44 PM
Sure it is mental health, but the awkward kids do seem to love first-person-shooter games! I've known a lot of teenagers over the past decade or so, and the average awkward, nerdy kid puts in enough hours playing Call of Duty, Halo, etc. to qualify as an expert under the Malcolm Gladwell definition. Too bad they had a lot of guns and assault rifles laying around. It's a bad recipe!
Diana December 17, 2012 at 11:51 PM
Monsters? These people have all been mentally ill. I believe God is showing us that we are failing our children as well as our mentally ill. I remember when they closed St. Elizabeths hospital in Washington D.C. they just turned them out into the streets to "main stream" them into the population. How many of our homeless are mentally ill, left to fend for themselves. If you have ever seen a mother try to get help for her mentally ill child you would understand just how backwards our country is. We have more crime than any other civilized country. When we had state run mental hospitals they were horrible with shock treatments, straight jackets, medical testing.. we need a descent health care system. As for guns. Guns aren't the problem but high power weapons and the ease in which people obtain them is. We need the Brady Bill, we need a system of checks and balances to regulate who is buying arms. I too am a Christian, as a matter of fact it was God who showed me that it wasn't guns but our lack of care for the mentally ill. God is here, he is showing us we need to care for our children and our mentally ill.
Tammy Osier December 18, 2012 at 12:07 AM
I'm getting ready to do a story on this. I studied it in Abnormal Psychology and the laws were changed around late 60's, early 70's because some groups felt that mentally ill patients should have more say in their treatment. Therefore, they had to be "self-committed". Even if the ypresented a danger, they had to somehow come to the conclusion that they needed help. Today, many of those people are on the streets and homeless and lining our cities because our laws keep us from committing them and getting them the help that they need. A person in the position of this shooter's mother is really held hostage. It is hard to know what to do with him and what type of treatment will work. many times people don't want to admit that they have a mentally deficit relative, so bury their heads in the sand. I think we could amend the laws to make them work without violating anyone's "rights". The rights of the mentally ill is to get treatment, not to be left on their own to treat themselves; many are not competent enough to do so. There's some good research that can be presented and I hope to find time to do it this week.
Ed Varn December 18, 2012 at 01:03 AM
Let's see, now. We passed laws banning alcohol, and alcohol use rose. We made drugs illegal, and drug use has risen. Who thinks banning guns won't produce the same results, and why?
Jim S December 18, 2012 at 01:08 AM
Ed, we need to stop knee jerk reactions and come up with common sense solutions with root cause analysis to stop the mental illness in this country. The Oklahoma bomb was easily obtained material, and yet it took out the building. Mental illness is the cause of the last 4 killings. The fact that guns were used is secondary to the intent of the murderer. He could have used arrows, or bombs.
Jim S December 18, 2012 at 01:10 AM
Ed, what I didn't say is that I agree with you completely. We have an eating problem in this country....let's ban forks!!
Susan December 18, 2012 at 01:26 AM
I agree, I live Georgia and we have a huge state mental hospital in Millageville that is just sitting there empty. I think the state needs to opens these kind of facilities up for the mentally ill, We have jails for people who break the law, why can't we have these institutions for the mentally ill?
Katha Blackwell December 18, 2012 at 04:31 AM
Ervin, I completely agree! The most vulnerable place is an elementary school and it is shameful that we have not done enough to protect them. The article...Is Your Child's School Safe? mentions more about a few safety measures we could take beyond changing gun laws and mental illness.
Ed Thomas December 18, 2012 at 05:32 AM
Some argue that the Founders never envisioned the weapons of today, I argue, maybe not, but they did cover all the weapons available at the time. This put the citizens on the same level as the army and government; you don’t want to bring a “knife to a gun fight.” Please note most of the police had AR-15s and/or other weapons, probably capable of full auto, in all of the news coverage scenes. It comes down to: “How much of the government are you willing let control you?” It is the 2nd Amendment that protects all the others. Restricting legal responsible ownership of any weapon only lessens the importance of the 2nd Amendment. Enforcement of current laws, maybe adding 5 years to any sentence that an illegal weapon is used, would provide a greater reduction of innocent deaths than restricting AR-15s. But I forget, liberals do not like putting criminals in prison. So am I worried about a tyrant taking away my guns and liberty? No!! It’s because we have the Second!
R++ One of the Famous Dacula Crew December 18, 2012 at 06:54 AM
Because they apparently haven't reached full parity with the males... Don't worry just like smoking, drinking and driving, they are well on their way to full participation.
Tammy Osier December 18, 2012 at 11:32 AM
John Daniel, you have apoint there. Think about it, soldiers are sometimes trained with the games for the purpose of turning off emotion and reacting to a situation.That iz as a PART of their training. Imagine a kid that is obsessed with violent video games and the parent is not strong enough to put limits on how much time is spent with these games. And some kids do this 24/7? Parenting is an issues there.
Racer X December 18, 2012 at 11:39 AM
Obviously mental illness is everywhere.
Racer X December 18, 2012 at 11:43 AM
Patricia- All pistols that are not revolvers are semi-automatic. In Germany, that is all they have ever had. Semi-automatic does not equal death and mayhem. A government, out of control, does.
Racer X December 18, 2012 at 11:44 AM
For the record, no assault style weapons were used in the Connecticut tragedy.
tank rollins December 18, 2012 at 01:12 PM
criminals in this country have more rights then their victims do (proven fact)...what about that "problem"???
Racer X December 18, 2012 at 02:42 PM
Tammy- You are right. Parenting is the issue. We need to hold parents more accountable. Obtaining a gun has many restrictions in place already. Becoming a parent has none at all. Any swinging John Thomas can get together with any bimbo and pump out a kid. Parenting is the most important job any adult can have, yet we let just anybody do it. As a bonus, they get to do it any way they want. They make teachers responsible for all or many of the things they should be getting at home. We need to wake up and smell the coffee.
Good Grief Y'all December 18, 2012 at 04:35 PM
Racer X, is this just semantics? isn't a Bushmaster AR 15 an assault-style weapon? Isn't it capable of discharging 45 rounds a minute? If it's not, any ban should be expanded to include it. "The Bushmaster was the primary weapon used by Adam Lanza in the killing of 20 children and six more adults.", from: Read more at http://www.inquisitr.com/444016/bushmaster-ar-15-pulled-from-walmart-website-manufacturer-to-be-sold/#5S84uMReKmZG5Q5L.99
Racer X December 19, 2012 at 02:24 PM
GGY- It's not just semantics and you ask a valid question. The Bush-master AR-15 is an assault style weapon, however, it was not used in the shooting (Despite what you will read on the link you posted). It was found inside the shooter's mother's car. The shooter used semi-automatic pistols which are pretty much standard fare for personal carry folks and have been for nearly a century.
Racer X December 19, 2012 at 02:26 PM
Tank- I like the idea of capital punishment after three felonies, no appeals.
Racer X December 19, 2012 at 03:23 PM
The Bushmaster was found in the mother's car and was not used in this horrible crime: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/12/14/sandy-hook-elementary-school-shooting_n_2300831.html It is deplorable that the MSM is using this to advance their own agenda. Here is a NY Daily News story that shows a picture of the Bushmaster AR-15 in the "weapons used photo, then, in the text, says the AR-15 was left in the back-seat of the car. It is pretty easy to see what is going on here: http://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/ct-school-shooter-made-combat-weapon-article-1.1220431
Racer X December 19, 2012 at 03:24 PM
The MSM is trying to control what people think, and doing a damn good job of it.
Tammy Osier December 21, 2012 at 03:47 AM
They can't control this. I have a feeling this story is getting ready to bust wide open. Of course, if it doesn't, we'll know why. Here it is: Before Friday’s heinous act, there was talk in Connecticut’s state legislature to beef up the state’s “assisted outpatient treatment” law. Connecticut Senate Bill 452 was proposed in February “to enhance the care and treatment of persons with psychiatric disabilities in both inpatient and outpatient settings.” But the bill was defeated in March, with opposition calling it “outrageously discriminatory.” The ACLU said the bill would “infringe on patients’ privacy rights by expanding [the circle of] who can medicate individuals without their consent.” Had the AOT bill been passed, it would have given the state the right to institutionalize a person who is mentally ill for treatment if the state has enough evidence to believe that the person could be a danger to himself or the community. The mother had already stated that he was burning himself and that she he was getting hard to handle. Studies show homeless people who commit crimes and taken to hospitals turn out to suffer from schizophrenia but were left on their own (due to the way the law is written) to take their own meds. Of course, in a manic state, they don't and end up on the streets. A bill like this would prevent that. Sad all the way around and the aclu continue to be responsible for this type of thing getting knocked down.
Tammy Osier April 13, 2013 at 11:39 PM
Found this. I'd rather discuss this than economics. I'm going to do some research on this and get back. The article about the Newton Dad who agrees with this stance rather than gun control belongs on this one. I'll get back later.


More »
Got a question? Something on your mind? Talk to your community, directly.
Note Article
Just a short thought to get the word out quickly about anything in your neighborhood.
Share something with your neighbors.What's on your mind?What's on your mind?Make an announcement, speak your mind, or sell somethingPost something