The reaction of the media, politicians, and gun control advocates to these events is so predictable, and so stupid.
Today's media stories are all about the background of the shooter: searching for either "blame" or "answers" (as if answers usually exist in these senseless killings, which they don't). So we have useless information about the shooter washing out of the army, and leaving a correctiions job after a month. We have the information that he had been in a mental health facility, where he resisted takng his medication. We have the information that he LEGALLY purchased gunes from a federally licensed gun dealer, and even had an Illinois gun ownership card (a card necessary to purchase a gun in Illinois), with the utterly stupid assertioni by Illinois "authorities" that you ordinarily can't get such a card with previous "mental problems" (as if psychologists and psychirtrists are required to report everyone with "mental problems"). And you have the usual guff about how friends and acquaintances were "baffled" that such a quiet, ordinary guy would do this (AOL headline: "Gunman Wore Mask of Frienliness"--or words to that effect). The most recent story is even more irrelevant: that the gunman stayed at a hotel/motel in the days before the shooting.
The media acts like all we have to do is delve into a person's past, and we will know WHY. Give me a break. If asked (especially if sued for FAILING to do it), psychiatrists will admit that they do not know how to accurately predict "dangerousness". Here, the person had mental health treatment--without "curing" his problems, because we do not know how to "cure" most mental illnesses.
The earlier version of this story said that the shooter had a "disturbing" past. He left a "corrections" job after only a month, and washed out of the army after six months. And he was not convinced he needed medication (a SYMPTOM of mental disease). "Disturbing"? Are we going to LOCK UP everyone that has a mental illness with resistance to taking medication? Register them?
Real lesson here (disregarding the usual "quiet guy who you would never guess.." quotes): Eliminate the insanity defense. People with "mental disease" should KNOW that they are going to have just as much responsibility for what they do as anybody else. Alcohol is no defense (even though alcoholism is a disease). Mental illness should be no dfense. How can you say a person is not "at fault" for not taking his medication, or not getting help?
Beyond that, we have to face that there is little to be done about these periodic cases of people going berserk for no apparent reason, or for inadequate reason.
Despite Obama's crass opportunism (see yesterday's entries), politicians can certalinly do nothing to stop these isolated events. Gun control advocates are even more cynically willing to try to USE this sort of tragedy to advance their agenda--wihout any logic behind their appeal to the emotion of the moment.
There is NO proposed gun control bill out there that would have prevented this shooting. No one that I am aware of is proposing to require all mental health professionals to report ALL people who receive mental health treatment, with such people being prohibited from buying a gun (shotguns too?).
Thre was a criminal background check here. The shooter had what amounts to a permit to own guns. Short of abolishing ALL guns (Obama says he is NOT for that), there is NO law that would even have arguably stopped this shooting (short of the alternative of locking up people with mental problems, or REGISTERING them--stigma anyone?).
Q.E.D. The reaction to this shooting is not useful. MY suggestion of eliminating the insanity defense, although not helping to prevent this sort of thing directly (indirectly I think it helps to let people KNOW that we regard them as responsible for their actions), at least is a USEFUL response to the obvious fact that we don't know why one person with mental illness never kills anyone while another does.