The Norman Transcript

Editorials

September 22, 2013

Mental health not sole answer on shootings

Another mass shooting — this time at the Washington Navy shipyard — has reignited a discussion about greater gun control. Yet again, mental illness is not getting the attention necessary to find solutions, partly because those solutions are not as clear.

The shooter — a 34-year-old former Navy reservist — reportedly had some mental health issues that should have been addressed earlier.

There were plenty of warning signs. Aaron Alexis told Newport, R.I., police about a month ago he was being followed by people using “some sort of microwave machine” on him and preventing him from sleeping.

He also sought treatment from the Department of Veteran Affairs for paranoia. He knew something was wrong, but it wasn’t helping.

To what degree mental health played into this incident will be difficult to quantify for a variety of reasons. First, there are privacy concerns, and families have complained they are blocked from getting even basic information necessary for them to help. The law requires permission from the patient before revealing such information, and many times they are the ones who do not recognize or admit to the problem.

Then there are mental health advocates who rightfully insist that being mentally ill doesn’t mean you are prone to violence. True enough, but let’s look at the numbers. A 2012 report from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services estimates that 10.4 million people experienced serious mental illness in the previous year. Nearly half of them did not receive treatment and many of them were homeless, crime victims, suicides or imprisoned.

Gun control advocates now are pointing to the ease with which Alexis was able to buy a shotgun even with his mental health record. Even though Alexis was seeking treatment and possibly diagnosed with mental illness, this does not disqualify someone from purchasing a gun.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Editorials
  • Repairs still needed

    Lawmakers once again kicked the can down the road on making needed repairs to the state Capitol. By a 62-34 vote, they turned down a Senate-approved plan to authorize up to $160 million in bonds to repair the nearly century-old building....

    April 24, 2014

  • Can’t have it both ways

    Local sheriff Joe Lester wasn’t among the state sheriffs and lawmakers protesting the removal of state prisoners from county jails this week. The sheriffs, some of whom have protested by having too many state prisoners in their ...

    April 24, 2014

  • Help for rural America

    A drive through rural parts of the Southwest can be depressing. For sale and for rent signs are prevalent. Businesses along main streets have closed. Unless they are close to a major interstate highway, many communities are in decline....

    April 23, 2014

  • Embarrassment to Oklahoma, again

    The standardized testing that was halted in local schools Monday is another embarrassment to the state. The same thing happened a year ago and Oklahoma gave them another chance....

    April 23, 2014

  • Time to move on; exit of Sebelius is right choice

    From the moment it became obvious that healthcare.gov wasn’t working, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius became damaged goods for the White House....

    April 23, 2014

  • Happy birthday to us

    We don’t expect any cake and that many candles might be dangerous but today is the unofficial 125th birthday of Norman....

    April 22, 2014

  • Dancing forward

    The official motto for Mike Fowler’s chairmanship of the Norman Chamber of Commerce is “Moving Norman Forward.” But after Thursday night’s annual banquet, the sub-theme should be, “Let’s Dance, Norman.” More than 500 chamber members and ...

    April 19, 2014

  • Local control or not?

    Oklahoma lawmakers are a fickle bunch when it comes to issues of local control. Sometimes they want it and other times they do not....

    April 19, 2014

  • There’s no need to fix system that’s working

    Lawmaker attempts to alter the way judges are selected are being challenged by the state’s lawyers. More than 1,800 signatures on a state bar association petition urging a “no” vote on Senate Joint Resolution 21 have been gathered in just ...

    April 18, 2014

  • On the side of openness

    Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin has been criticized for failing to release emails and other information sought by press outlets who believe it was covered under the state’s Open Records Act. Now, Fallin is coming down on the side of keeping the ...

    April 18, 2014

Video
Facebook