Letter to the Editor: Failure to Recognize Mental Illness Led to School Shooting
In a Letter to the Editor, Grayslake resident and attorney Jerry Novak writes that he feels the Newtown, Conn. school shooting was not the result of a lack of gun control, but a failure to recognize and treat mental illness.
Well by now I'm sure all of you are aware of the tragic school shooting in Connecticut. Its terrible. 27 lives lost. Why? Because of military "assault style weapons?" Because of high capacity magazines? Because guns are too easily obtained? Because we live in a "gun culture?"
No. None of those reasons. Twenty-seven lives were lost because we as a population failed to recognize mental illness. We failed to recognize that some young man needed help. Help that he wasn't able to ask for. We failed to recognize his silent cries for help and we failed to help him deal with the terrible silent disease of mental illness. The disease won and we all lost. We lost our sense of safety for our children in school. We lost our ability to reason. And many of us scream for stricter gun laws. We lost our ability to think a situation through. We are all busy "re-acting" and are not acting with our ability to reason.
Guns are tools. They are neither safe nor dangerous. They are simply tools and become safe when we promote and participate in firearms education and training. They are unsafe in the hands of the untrained, the uneducated, in the hands of criminals and in the hands of the mentally ill. Guns are life-saving devices... that's why we give them to cops. If they were inherently dangerous we wouldn't want the cops to have them either.
More people are killed in car accidents than were ever killed in gun battles and we don't try to outlaw cars. People who drink and drive are arrested for DUI but we don't blame the car! We don't blame the alcohol. We blame the driver. He (or she) made a choice. They drank and they drove. And many of those drunk drivers have killed or seriously injured many thousands of innocent motorists.
Did we outlaw their military looking vehicles? No. Did we outlaw high capacity vehicles? No. Did we blame the fact that cars are too easily obtained? No. Did we blame these injuries and deaths on the fact that we live in a car culture? No. What we did do was prosecute the offender and provide alcohol and/or drug abuse treatment. We reached out to these people and offered them a helping hand to receive the counseling and education necessary so they could make better choices and decisions in the future.
We don't blame pens for writing bad checks and we don't blame the department stores merchandise for retail thefts. Let's get it right. Let's focus on the real problem. Let's help those that cannot ask for the help they need. Let's get the education we need to recognize those with mental illness. Let's reach out to them and get them the mental health services that they need. They'll be better and we'll all be safer.
Ignore the politicians who blur the focus of the real problem and try to promote their own political agenda with scare tactics and fear. Yes, I mean you, Rahm. And yes, you too Mr. Quinn, Mr. Bloomberg, Ms. Pelosi & Mr. Obama.
Jerry Novak, Grayslake
Attorney at Law
Licensed Private Detective
NRA Certified Firearms Instructor
Utah Certified Concealed Firearms Instructor
Utah Certified Bail Enforcement Firearms Instructor
Certified Oleoresin Capsicum Instructor (pepper spray)
Member Int. Assoc. of Law Enforcement Firearms Instructors