How many lives will be further ruined by the lack of mental health care screening, treatment?
Five children were injured in May in two separate incidents
involving bounce houses, those huge inflatable amusement devices often rented
for carnivals and parties. Sure, parents should be concerned about allowing
their children to play on a potentially dangerous device. The Consumer Product
Safety Commission will open an investigation, according to USA Today, in light
of the fact that at least 10 inflatables collapsed or blew away in 2011, and
injuries more than doubled from 2008 to 2010.
It’s great that a trend was identified, and action taken
fairly quickly to look into the aspects of inflatables that might cause harm.
But that doesn’t happen every time someone is injured or
killed. Some we get used to.
When two students created a massacre at Columbine School in
1999 – 15 years ago now – killing 13 and injuring at least 24, one would have
reasonably expected that Americans – politicians and citizens; parents and
children; law enforcement, gun advocates and gun critics – would have all come
together to take action to stem such senseless violence. But in the intervening
years, names and places such as Tucson, Sandy Hook, Virginia Tech and the
Columbia Mall have added more faces to the tragic stories. Add Isla Vista,
Calif., to that list, where 22-year-old Elliott Rodger allegedly stabbed his
roommates and then shot three more people while injuring 13 in the area around
the University of California Santa Barbara, before killing himself May 23. The
ready availability of guns and other weapons, combined with inadequate mental
health screening and treatment results in tragedy after tragedy after tragedy.
The evident pain expressed by Michael Martinez, the father
of Isla Vista victim Christopher Michaels-Martinez, might have been prevented
had the law-enforcement authorities who did a “wellness check” on Rodger had
done a better background check. Rodger’s parents expressed concern over videos
their son had made and posted on YouTube, prompting the visit to the young man’s
home. The authorities apparently didn’t watch the videos for themselves, or check
a database that showed that Rodger had recently (and legally) purchased several
weapons and ammunition. Rodger eventually admitted before his rampage that had
they entered his home and seen his weapons, they would have foiled his plans to
How much more outrage will it take for Congress to act to
plug the holes in the universal background check system to eliminate the shield
for private sales? When even an attack on a federal congresswoman – doing her
job, listening to constituents at a public forum at a grocery store – cannot
prompt action, then Congress must be stalemated indeed.
How many lives will be further ruined by the lack of mental
health care screening and treatment programs? Life is tough for all of us; for
some those challenges can become crippling. And for some, when their disease is
not under control, they become dangerous, to themselves and to others.
“When will this insanity stop?” Richard Martinez asked after
his son was shot. “When will enough people say, ‘Stop this madness; we don’t
have to live like this’? Too many have died. We should say to ourselves: Not
According to Catholic News Service, since the May 23
shooting in California, the state’s lawmakers have been busy re-examining the
state’s gun-control laws. A new bill was introduced May 28 in the state
Legislature that would allow friends or family members concerned that someone
may commit a violent act to notify law enforcement officials. The bill also
would allow police to investigate the threat and request a restraining order
from a judge preventing the person from purchasing a firearm or keeping one
they already own.
Will such laws be enough, without addition public support
for enhanced mental health treatment? Who needs to be convinced that this
problem begs for a solution? Can we begin today?
6/6/2014 10:54:38 AM
By Christopher Gunty