Caruthers: Guns do not kill, people do
December 17, 2012
I am very sad about the recent murder of 20 young children. It is heart- wrenching. I suspect that, like me, many learning of this event in Connecticut want to do something to make sure it never happens again. I know that there is a large movement afoot to ban or limit guns, especially semi-automatic weapons. I am not against that. However, I do want to add another perspective. Guns do not kill. People do. The recent atrocities that have happened in the last year and in years past have mostly been perpetrated by young people who clearly had some severe emotional issues. In normal circumstances, emotionally healthy people to not take the lives of innocent children or innocent people. They do not willfully murder. I suggest we need to look more closely at the issue of prevention from a mental health perspective. In the ’80s there were mental hospitals and outpatient mental health facilities that were funded to treat and prevent mental illness. Many, if not most of those facilities have been closed, or their services severely limited. Recently the insurance companies and government has further limited what it will reimburse for mental health services. This does not make good sense except from a very shortsighted budgetary perspective. We have a huge population that is in need of those services. There are many veterans returning from combat suffering from PTSD, head injury, and the emotional stress of returning home; we have young people struggling to enter a work force where there are limited jobs and young people struggling to adapt; and we have couples in need of help to have healthy communications. I suggest we look further than gun control to preventative services and to more effective early intervention in the treatment of mental disorders.