Other than my comments on the media, I hadn’t planned to comment on the Washington Navy Yard shootings. After all, what could I say that hadn’t already been said before?
Then I came across an Op-Ed by Charles Krauthammer in the Washington Post.
It’s must reading. For those of you who don’t know Krauthammer is a MD, who trained at the Massachusetts General Hospital back in the 1970s. Specifically he’s a psychiatrist and saw a lot of a patients like the Navy Yard shooters.
My experience reflects his and the situation has only gotten worse since his active practice days.
I had a lot of homeless patients in my career and while some of them were the stereotypical drunks that the general public thinks of, many of them had serious psychological problems for which they received no treatment.
When the state run mental health hospitals started to close in the 1960s, they were supposed to be based by “community based” out patient facilities that would take the place of the restrictive in patient facilities that were expensive to operate. For the most part that never happened. Plus laws were passed giving the mentally ill the right to refuse medical treatment unless they were a danger to themselves or others. As a result, unless someone overtly attacked another person or tried to kill themselves, they couldn’t be forcibly treated. Some states have since changed their laws to allow for patients to be treated against their will, but only to the point where they are no longer a danger.
The result is a cycle of treatment, release, bizarre behavior, treatment, release, bizarre behavior.
Many of these mass killers should have been committed to in patient facilities, but weren’t for a variety of reasons.
Instead of a comprehensive review of how we treat mentally ill people in this country, we get calls for more laws restricting access to guns and making it more difficult for law abiding citizens to become gun owners. The politicians know what the real problems are and know that the real solutions are going to require hard work and probably cost significant amounts of money. If there is anything politicians hate, it’s hard work, especially when they are going to be required to do the work. So, they’ll take the easy route and make speeches about evil guns that weren’t used in this crime, tougher background checks, and of course more laws that will place a burden on people who aren’t the problem.
I expect nothing more or less this time either.
Lather, rinse, repeat.