The Government’s Response To The Sandy Hook Tragedy

The good news is that President Obama wants some form of gun control when it comes to automatic weapons and ammo. If we limit the number of massively killing machines that there are out there, we limit the number of chances that you will get the kind of body counts you got at V-Tech and Sandy Hook. Body counts, in fact, almost rivaling the Oklahoma City bombing. Unfortunately, gun control measures are not likely to get very far in today’s atmosphere. You’ve got the gun lobby and a Republican controlled congress to contend with. Talk about gun control always triggers a gun buying frenzy among certain segments of the public as well. The gun control measures are perhaps the least likely items on the agenda to get passed.This leads us to the rest of the counteracting measures, and that’s the bad news.

First there is this matter of closing the loopholes in the federal background check database. The problem here is that people labeled “mentally ill” are actually less likely to commit violent crimes than the general population. This group has become the scapegoat for the acts of violence committed by a very few failed and frustrated individuals. None of the people who committed the multiple shootings we have seen in the recent past would have been caught by such a database even if the so called loopholes were closed. This database targets not only people who have known the inside of a mental institution, but also foreigners in this country illegally, spouse abusers, and ex-felons. This database will be used by law enforcement for harassing the people who are in it. The database itself constitutes a loophole in the bill of rights of the US constitution as none of the people in the database are to be accorded the rights that full citizenship would ordinarily accord a person. As such, it represents a loophole in constitutional protections of citizenship. This certainly creates quite a challenge for the people unfortunate enough to find themselves listed. They’ve got the fight for the civil rights that have been taken away from them, ahead of them.

Additionally, there is the matter of mental health insurance parody. Parity is too good a word. This parody involves insurance companies treating psychosomatic conditions as if they were physical conditions. The key words here are “as if”. We’re expected to allow insurance companies to take up the slack for a broken mental health system. Really. If the mental health system were recovering contributing members of society this wouldn’t be a problem, but that’s not the case. People receiving “mental illness” labels are expected to languish for the duration of their lives in some form of convalescence for which someone else picks up the tab. Insurance parity, on top of job discrimination, equals economic damage. Malingering should not be turned into the kind of a career that insurance parody of this sort can turn it into. This is economic damage. It is economic damage to the individual and it is economic damage to the nation as a whole. It is keeping people weak and dependent who should be strong and independent.

Finally officials want to beef up mental health policing and surveillance in the school systems. They would have more money pumped into counseling and screening children and adolescents in the hopes that they could catch problem kids before they left school and shot bunches of people. The problem is that such an effort is likely to have a result opposite the one intended. Early intervention is not prevention; it actually amounts to causation. Putting money into mental health in the schools is invariably going to increase the numbers of school children labeled “mentally ill”. These numbers have increased dramatically recently in no small measure due to the focus that mental health has received in the mass media. Children that enter mental health treatment don’t always leave mental health treatment alive. There is a statistic that indicates the failure of the mental health system that I alluded to earlier. If 1/2 of the people labeled lifelong mental patients are labeled by the age of 14 years old, as it is indeed said they are, do we really want to label more children? Increasing the numbers of children labeled “seriously mentally ill” is going to increase the numbers of adults labeled “seriously mentally ill”. Children grow up, but they don’t always grow up healthy. A healthy mental health system is a system that is contracting. An unhealthy mental health system is a system that is expanding. We’ve got better things to do than to sell “mental illness” under the pretext of selling mental health.

The government has better ways to serve the people of this country than by beefing up it’s mental health security force the way it wants to do in the schools. This patrolling the hallways of our nation’s schools for errant behavior is going to result in more students penalized, and in many cases, pathologized, for annoying behavior. Children, as a rule, grow up. As they are children, we have to expect them to engage in a certain amount of foolish and silly behavior. We have to expect them to make mistakes. We also have to expect them to be able to learn from mistakes to correct mistakes. Lowering the expectation for some of them that they will ever attain the wisdom that comes with age is not an improvement. Damaging the futures of children in the name of mental health, although the course we are set on, is not the kind of thing we should be doing with our nation’s children.

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