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A look at the Reality and the Rhetoric around gun control, background checks and mental illness.
Who decides what illnesses are used? What criteria?
Like most parents with children in school, I worry about what they are learning and doing all day. I also worry about their safety. Violence and crime in schools is on the rise and I’ve written about the troubling fight incidents going on in my own school district.
Like other parents, I also worry about the idea of a shooter coming into my kid’s school. Schools are the ultimate soft target. They are largely unguarded, especially elementary schools and middle schools.
KEEP READING…. Continue reading
A three part series by Liberty Speaks
Violence and Blame
Part Three: Hypocrisy
In the wake of these shootings where do we go from here? Which path do we take to escape such unsolicited gratuitous evil? Who or what do we blame for the actions of an individual that disrupts our society in a manner that is contrary and hostile to our beliefs? How do we survive and prevent future Loughners, Hyde’s, wounded police officers, and devastated families? How do we prevent another Newtown? In order to answer these questions, like any malignancy that plagues us, we first must realize we have a problem. The answer does not lie in the fact that there are guns, whether they are revolvers, shotguns, AR-15’s, or pistols. THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS A DERANGED WEAPON. A gun is a tool like any other inanimate object, and after all, a hammer is just a hammer until someone picks it up and has the intent to use it against their fellow-man as a weapon.
No. The first thing we must understand with mass shootings such as these is that all were committed by those who suffer from acute mental illness. This is not to say that all homicides in the US are committed by the mentally ill. Only about a 1000 homicides a year can be attributed to those with acute mental disorder. However, when talking mass shootings such as Tuscon, the Hyde murders, Virginia Tech, Aurora, and Newtown, mental illness is at or above a 95% affliction rate in these offenders. This is where we begin to answer those questions. What we can do and what we should not do.
Recognizing one problem: Untreated mental illness
An individual with severe mental illness, when diagnosed and treatments and medications have been put into place, can live and function with relatively normal lives just like the rest of us. Some illnesses require more intense treatment than others, some only therapy sessions, others with medication, however, there are approximately 3.5 million mentally ill in the United States who go untreated. One segment of the population that see’s it’s share of mental illness and criminal activity is the homeless. Out of our nations homeless population 1/3 suffers from mental illness.
Sargent Carol Oleksak, now retired from the Albuquerque Police Department, understood too well even before being shot by Duc Mihn Pham; how mental illness affects those specially the homeless. She spent most of her career working in some of the toughest area’s of the city. Though she did not know Pham before he shot her, she had contact with many of Albuquerque homeless many of whom are mentally ill. From the PoliceOne.com article:
“I always wanted to work in the worst part of town,” Oleksak said. She had arrested many people like him: mentally ill transients who were arrested over and over, only to be released after they were found incompetent but not dangerous.
After Sgt.Oleksak was shot and after a long recovery, not only did she find a new cause in her heart but she came to forgive her attacker. Knowing individuals like Pham needed help, Sgt. Oleksak began a campaign to advocate for the mentally ill in New Mexico even winning through N.A.M.I (National Alliance for the Mentally Ill) the Sam Cochran Compassion in Law Enforcement award for her efforts in opening up a conversation on the homeless and mental illness. She believed the system had failed Pham and others like him, and wanted to help change that system so she advocated for the inception of Kendra’s Law in New Mexico.
The law, which originated in New York, allowed for courts – after extensive due process – to order a certain group of narrowly defined individuals with serious mental illness who already have a past history of multiple arrests, incarcerations or needless hospitalizations to accept treatment as a condition for living in the community. Before Kendra’s Law, the law required people so ill they refuse treatment to become dangerous before they can be required to accept treatment. Families felt the law should prevent dangerous behavior, rather than require it. However, the law was struck down after a ruling that the ordinance “pre-empted current New Mexico State Law requiring consent from either the patient or a guardian before treatment could be given..
Oleksak said the state needs some version of the law, tailored specifically to New Mexico’s needs and dealing only with people who are found to be a danger to themselves or others. -PoliceOne.com
Though Sgt. Oleksak is now retired enjoying life on her ranch, she still stays involved with N.A.M.I. helping the mentally ill. Oleksak says, “It’s not that they’re criminal, they need to have some sort of help.”
Agreement: New gun laws will not stop violence
It has been nearly 8 years since John Hyde went on his rampage killing five people, including two Albuquerque Police officers. If there was a group of people in our society who think would be screaming for gun control and tighter restrictions it would be our law enforcement, but you would be wrong. Ironically, those on the front lines who respond to acts of violence, overwhelming understand, that legislating new restrictions and gun bans will not prevent future Newtowns nor prevent those with bad intent from getting a hold of guns, or any other deadly weapon for that matter.
PoliceOne, an online resource for Law Enforcement officers with over 400,000 members, conducted the most comprehensive survey ever in March of this year utilizing 15,000 verified law enforcement professionals. The Survey, focused on gun control, gun violence, gun rights, officer safety and mental illness. The results, it likely came quite as a shock to legislator’s and anti-gun advocates a like.
The take away was this: Continue reading