We are weary of these stories.
We are frustrated, exhausted, confused, angry and overwhelmed.
The outrage, speculation, ranting and debates were not nearly as strong this time. The evidence is on Twitter, Facebook and CNN. So many of us are tired of arguing about it, Many of us are worn down. Ready and longing for the next distraction so we can go back to ignoring it.
Some things didn’t change, however.
Once again, there was the consistent pointing of fingers at the usual suspects: Guns, violent music, video games and mental illness.
Think about that and these indisputable facts:
1.) The vast and overwhelming majority of people who enjoy rap music or play video games do not become violent criminals.
2.) The vast and overwhelming majority of people who own guns do not use them in the commission of a crime.
3.) The vast and overwhelming majority of people with a mental illness do not go on shooting rampages or commit other violent crimes.
But these are the most common denominators in the growing escalation of senseless massacres, so it’s easy to understand why we focus on these convenient subjects.
It seems harder, however, to face the cold, hard reality that this problem will require a lot more than a knee-jerk reaction and a single-issue focus.
My friends on both sides of the political aisle better wake up.
To the NRA and folks who prefer the right side of the political aisle, you talk a good game about mental illness, when are you going to acknowledge that system of service is broken and essentially unavailable to those on the lower end of the economic spectrum? Is it a priority yet? Or do we need more six-year olds slaughtered in their classrooms, more veterans and federal employees shot where they work? Are we ready to fund those programs? They are expensive.
Can you concede that better background checks are just common sense?
To my friends on the left, how much are you willing to compromise on the individual liberties of the mentally ill and their ability to purchase firearms? What lines of accountability will you hold to your Hollywood friends? Can we require mentally ill people to take their medications? How far down that slippery slope are you willing to slide?
Even while we debate the expansion of Medicare in Maine or the pros and cons of the Affordable Health Care Act, mental illness treatment is the last rung on the priority ladder. In fact, Governor King, Governor Baldacci and Governor LePage have all allowed cuts to mental health spending. Chew on that common denominator for a bit.
Just a few weeks before he waged his own war at the Washington Navy Yard, Aaron Alexis complained to Rhode Island police “that people were talking to him through the walls and ceilings of his hotel rooms and sending microwave vibrations into his body to prevent him from sleeping,” according to the Associated Press.
In politics they say you should never let a crisis go to waste.
Funny, we keep wasting these crisis opportunities over and over again.
P.S. If you are still stupid enough to blather on about arming teachers to keep students safe, especially following two deadly massacres at U.S. military installations, be prepared for me to vomit on your shirt.