Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Having Serious Discussions

Get ready for another round of op-ed pieces, blog posts, story comments and letters to the editor saying that it is "time to have a serious discussion" following Sunday's tragedy in Menasha.  Some of you will want to talk about gun control.  Some of you want to talk about mental health treatment.  Okay then, let's talk.

First, let's talk "seriously" about gun control. We can start by running through the existing and proposed gun control measures and see how they would have prevented what happened in Menasha:

--Expanded background checks: The Menasha gunman was a Air Force veteran, had no criminal record and no history of mental illness.  There would have been no red flags to prevent the purchase of his weapons had he tried to buy them at a gun show, through Craigslist or on Ebay.

--Waiting periods to buy guns: The Menasha gunman was upset over a fight with his former fiancée the day of the shooting.  Obviously he already had the weapons in his possession and didn't have to wait two days to purchase them.

--Ban assault rifles: This gunman used two handguns.

--Ban handguns: There are 270-MILLION guns in the US.  How do you propose to confiscate all of those? And keep in mind that a good percentage of those are already illegally possessed--and the only ideas we've come up with to get those off the street are "buyback programs" (which actually encourage the additional theft of guns) and setting up fake storefronts with the intention of selling illegal firearms and tracking where they go--only to lose track of the guns and the people who bought them.

While you consider all of that, let's switch our focus to additional mental health programs.  After decades of forcing people into asylums for anti-social behavior, nearly all treatment for mental health is done on a voluntary, outpatient basis today.  It's more "humane" that way is what we are told.  The Menasha gunman's apparent spiral started about a week ago--when his former fiancée canceled their wedding.  Should the caterers and banquet hall operators have alerted someone at Human Services "Hey, we have a couple breaking up--you may want to send over some counselors".  Do those that leave co-dependent relationships "have a responsibility" to make sure the other person "is talking to someone about their issues"?  And should "mood balancing" drugs be available over the counter, 24-hours a day for those who just had something bad happen to them and they just can't see someone right away to get rid of homicidal thoughts running through their minds?

Here's my theory on what happened on Sunday.  The former fiancée tells the gunman that they are through.  He sees no reason to keep on living without her--but instead of killing her and himself--and basically ending their relationship there--he decides to take another route.  So he picks out the Trestle Trial Bridge.  Maybe that is where they went on a first date--or where they used to take long walks together or maybe its where he proposed.  and by senselessly killing three people--critically wounding another--and taking his own life, he "forces" her to "live with that" for the rest of her life.  And where did I come up with this theory?  From the plot lines of dozens of crime drama TV shows like Law and Order, NCIS or Castle--and several blockbuster movies over the past 30-years. 

If you think that legislation and medication are the solutions to preventing all incidents like the one we just had in Menasha, you had better rest your voice--because you are going to continue to have "serious conversations" for a really long time.

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