Crosspost of my comments on Gainesville Times blog: http://www.gainesvilletimes.com/section/24/article/78879/
I am quite aware that the authors of op ed columns do not write the headlines. I hate to see this excellent description of the profound needs for diagnosis and treatment of mental illness in this country by a headline that I see as misleading.
The headline implies an over-simplified and dangerous assumption that preventing criminal gun violence is a matter of identifying individuals likely to commit such crimes on the basis of some criteria, calling them mentally ill, and making it illegal for them to obtain weapons.
Done and done! Now it is on the backs of overworked and underfunded law enforcement and mental health providers.
Of course we know States numerous Republican and Democratic Congresses have serially starved by defunding dismantled the community mental health system over the past 20 or so years. In part thanks to the Republican Congress (complying with NRA demands) that shut down CDC and other government research programs designed to develop an understanding and capacity to prevent criminal gun violence; NO ONE knows a lot about how to predict what a particular individual may do.
More to the point, frankly the broad profile available today likely encompasses at least one of our friends or family. To begin operating on such a broad profile represents a real danger to civil liberties of the kind not seen since the Salem Witch trials.
Beyond that in he cases that seem especially dangerous there is a labrynth of legal and liability limitations on what the concerned professional or citizen may report as well as who to report to.
Brief note to Ms. Panter. IMO teachers and, ironically, jailers as a group are the most knowledgeable and astute in their observations of family and individual dysfunction. Unfortunately too often their knowledge goes begging.
It is my personal belief that gun and other violence is a cultural illness. As long as the culture glorifies, and blurs the distinction between sociopath killer and hero we will have people at the margins who will strive to find ways to shine that glory on themselves.
Attending to the emotional needs of all especially the marginally capable is one starting point. Another is to decrease the easy availability of these killing machines. A small group of individuals do not have the Constitutional or moral right to maintain themselves as an army capable of usurping our democratically elected government.