- A 20-something white kid wraps himself in a Confederate flag and spouts white supremacy- and kills people in a church.
- A 20-something Middle Eastern kid wraps himself in ISIS ideology and kills Marine recruiters.
- A 20-something white kid in Colorado with no apparent ideology walks into a movie theater and kills people.
Is it true ideology or is it illness.
We don't seem to know how to answer that. All of the above cases- and countless others from Sandy Hook to Columbine have one thing in common- the clear presence of mental illness. There are events that are clearly terrorism-based. There are attacks against the event promoting images of Mohammed, the Middle Eastern soldier attacking his base, the shoe bomber, September 11. These are terrorism. As were the Oklahoma City and Boston Marathon bombings.
But most are not.
Someone out there has no doubt done the research and can tell me how many of the attacks are truly acts of terrorism and how many are the acts of individuals who may be attracted by extremist, violent ideology, but who are acting out there own violent illnesses and racist or religious ideologies and prejudices. These are often loners, perhaps even bordering on anti-social or psychopathic loners.
- What we need is a serious discussion on our culture.
- What we need is reasonable laws that help curtail gun violence and gun registration.
- What we need is a group like the NRA to be the group that starts putting together serious, thoughtful regulations and guidelines that can have an impact, not the mindless, unquestioning antipathy to any and all attempts to make sense of this insanity.
- What we also need is an improvement in insurance coverage for mental health issues.
- We need better ways of identifying and treating those who may be in the midst of mental health crises.
- Finally, we need a greater awareness that mental illness is a disease that needs to be treated on a parity with other illnesses.