Is mental health a determining factor in shootings? Of course. But how are we going to go about addressing it?
We can’t force anyone to seek the benefits from mental health treatment. No, you have to persuade, you have to entice, you have to educate about the great healing possibilities that it offers.
Let us imagine an advertisement attempting to reach a possible shooter. “Dear sir, if you have a lot of guns and are piling up on ammunition and knives, you may be very angry about something that went wrong in your life. There is no point in giving your pain to others that have nothing to do with your own. Why hurt them? Why hurt the innocent? They have their pain to deal with, like every human being has. So please come to your neighborhood mental health center and ask to speak to a therapist. We will do what we can to help you find peace in your heart and not ruin your life. Please come see us.”
Will the person seeing or hearing such advertisement pick up the phone right away and make an appointment or go straight to the address listed?
The person will take their time thinking about it, if he does at all, or will likely say, “It’s probably a ruse, a trick to take away my guns. Anyway, I can’t imagine anyone being able to help me with all this misery that I’ve been going through all of my life.”
But mental health treatment can help the person heal if they show up. If he shows up and stays in his seat, stays in the room and interacts with the person sitting across. And it will take time. Time. Which is what we don’t have.
To get us the precious time we need to reach these troubled souls we must put limits on gun purchases.
To get us the time we need to treat our fellow Americans seething with murderous rage we need restrictions on access to guns.
We need limits and restrictions on gun purchases until we find ways to educate our citizenry, ways to instill in them that no one should give their pain to others, that each person has to learn to process their own distress, and until we do so, having free access to guns is a prescription for endless suffering.
Yes, mental health is an issue. But are you willing to consent to every prospective gun owner getting a mental health screening?
I don’t think so.
So we need time.
To all gun lovers in the land, please give us that precious time, and you will be acting responsibly to prevent the cowardly slaughter of our fellow citizens.