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The Arizona shootings

The Arizona shootings… a failure of mental health care, not political.


The tragic shootings in Arizona are a representation of many things. None of them are political.

The accused perpetrator of this terrible event seems to have a well-known history of mental illness. Of course, we find out about all the people who had concerns and voiced those concerns after the fact. This shooting in Arizona is more about mental illness and civil rights than it is about politics or gun control.

The young man who stands accused of shooting innocent civilians (including a nine-year-old girl ) and the congresswoman seems to have gotten the attention of family, friends, and educators because of his unstable demeanor and assumed mental illness.

While many people are asking how this person could've gotten his hands on firearms, I'm asking “why did he not get treatment?”

I think this answer to that question is the fact that nobody wanted to violate his civil rights and force treatment on him. This despite him being violent or unstable enough to be barred from schools and other locations.

How many violent events will it take for us to recognize these problems and take them seriously?  It seems that after the Virginia Tech massacre, the assaults on Fort Hood, and this deadly rampage in Arizona, that we look back and recognize the warning signs. They might take the form of postings on Facebook… notes on a personal blog… or even videos posted publicly on YouTube. Regardless of the media, the warning signs are there… and they were there in all of these cases. But no one took action.

Again a matter of concern over violating someone else's civil rights. In the name of political correctness we could not (or would not) mandate someone to treatment or restrict their activities because of their intent. In intent that seems all too clear.

When will we recognize that mental illness has to be taken as seriously as any other medical problems. In fact, I believe that if we were to engage mental health, substance abuse, and substance addiction with the same vigor as we do heart disease, and traffic safety we may very well prevent  this type of event in the future.

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