Sunday, December 23, 2012

Sensible, reasonable approach to the issue of mass violence

Sensible, reasonable approach to the issue of mass violence
by Kathie Costos
Wounded Times Blog
December 23, 2012

The first thing we need to get straight is no one just "snaps" before they commit mass murder. They even show signs before they commit suicide, often thinking about it for a very long time before they take their own lives. For the bulk of gun deaths that can be tied to military service, guns are used most of the time. You also need to know that 75% of the suicides committed by veterans came after they sought help.

While military suicides and attempted suicides usually involve guns, very few have harmed someone else before they did it. Mass murder committed by members of the military are rare. There are a couple of trials going on involving members of the military charged with committing mass murder.
Major Nidal Malik Hasan
In the end, they weren't enough for the FBI to identify Army Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan as a terrorist threat or, as it would turn out, as a man who now stands accused of the shooting spree at Fort Hood that killed 13 and wounded 23 others in November 2009. The emails attracted the attention of FBI and anti-terrorism task force agents in December 2008, and eventually prompted them to dig up Hasan's personnel records and evaluation reports.
Staff Sgt. Robert Bales
Today, the 38-year-old Army staff sergeant remains locked in an isolation cell in a maximum-security military prison at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., accused of killing 16 Afghans, including nine children.

Eleven years of war, with over 2 million deployed into two wars, and only a few mass murder incidences. The talk these days is about the "culture of violence" but the talkers don't seem to be able to understand that we train men and women to use lethal force and they are well armed. A veteran is more apt to commit suicide than harm anyone else.

If they shoot anyone else, it is usually someone in their lives and not strangers. They usually kill themselves right afterwards.

Comment on the Newtown shooting
"This awful massacre of our youngest children has changed us, and everything should be on the table," Sen. Joe Manchin, a conservative Democrat from West Virginia and "proud gun owner," said Monday in a statement. "We need to move beyond dialogue -- we need to take a sensible, reasonable approach to the issue of mass violence."

It is not as if we haven't known all of this for a very long time.

Rural West Virginia Vets have higher rate of trauma risk
Study: Rural W.Va. vets at higher trauma risk
The Associated Press
Posted : Tuesday Nov 11, 2008

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A new study shows that rural West Virginia veterans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan are more likely to suffer from mental health problems than their urban counterparts.

The analysis is based on the ongoing West Virginia Returning Soldiers Study, which has surveyed more than 930 veterans.

The study shows that about 56 percent of returning soldiers from rural counties suffer from post-traumatic distress and other mental health problems, compared to 32 percent of soldiers in urban areas and 34 percent of those living on out-of-state military bases.

Rural veterans are also at greater risk for suicide.

Hilda Heady, a rural health specialist at West Virginia University, says part of the problem is a lack of mental health care facilities in rural areas.

When you hear politicians talk about mental illness and firearms, think about what you just read. Everyone with a mental illness is not going to use a gun against someone else but it does show that too many use them on themselves even after seeking help. Does that tell you something? It hasn't told members of congress that what is happening with military mental healthcare is not working because they haven't done anything meaningful since 2008.

It hasn't told them that the "culture of violence" has not caused members of the military and veterans to commit mass murders anywhere near what troubled civilians have done.

Mental health has to be addressed but it cannot begin and end with simply taking away the guns they have. Easy answers are not always the right answers. If there is no fix for how the mentally ill are treated, then mass murders will keep happening when civilians pull guns on civilians and veterans will keep taking their own lives.

If they ban assault weapons but do not secure the bullets these weapons use, then it will only put assault weapons into the hands of criminals. It should not be easier to get bullets for these weapons than it is to get the weapons in the first place. The gun does not kill, the bullets do. Require owners to have a license to buy the bullets and make it just as hard to get one as it is to get guns.

Everything has to be addressed and fixed before we can expect anything to really change.