The Newtown, Conn., shooting brought out the gun-control advocates. But is gun control the answer, or must we really look to other areas? There has been little discussion of the mental-health issues and the environment surrounding the perpetrators of these massacres. The sheer nature of these violent attacks on our citizens makes it quite evident that there is and always has been a mental-health component in any attempt at mass killing of individuals.
We have research data collected by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on the law that implemented the Federal Assault Weapons Ban that was in effect from Sept. 13, 1994 until Sept. 13, 2004. The data indicates that bans and gun-control laws have little to no impact in decreasing violent gun crimes. Based on that data we should now be looking at other areas for the reason behind these violent episodes.
Mental-health issues have been identified as part of the makeup of each of the gun-wielding killers in Aurora, Colo., Newtown, Tucson, Ariz., and Virginia Tech. We now should approach our current laws dealing with mental-health issues in a new light. We should be looking at new and more effective ways of identifying and dealing with those whose mental stability has been brought into question.
North Carolina, like many other states, has closed the state-run inpatient facilities for mental health. These closures have left the state with no facilities to house the mentally ill except within our local communities. It also has left the state with no state-run inpatient facility totally dedicated to the mental health of its citizens. A state-run inpatient facility would also be an excellent research facility to identify behavior associated with individuals who perpetrate such crimes.
From research we know that gun control is not the answer. We must now redirect our efforts for the future and do whatever we can to limit or stop future massacres. To find a solution, research will have to be performed. Do we really have the facilities to do research on mental-health issues to identify the causes that prompted those who have perpetrated these murders?
— Ray Shamlin