I have a couple of thoughts, by no means exclusive or comprehensive.
1. We definitely need a dialogue on how best to handle mental illness. There is such a societal stigma attached to it, and then we seem to only want to touch it with kid gloves, by making light of it, or joking (have you ever called a psychiatrist a “shrink”?). We are far more educated about the workings of the human brain than we were even 50 years ago, but we are light years away from understanding it completely. We have no problem running off to a doctor for the slightest physical ailment, yet despite the fact that the brain is far more complicated than all the other organs in the body combined, we hesitate to do something when things “aren’t right”. Often mental illness is left to the parents, or families, and society simply ignores it. We need to change our attitudes about it. In the process, we’ll not only have a better understanding of what makes the Adam Lanza’s of the world tick, but we’ll make great strides in dealing with other societal ills, such as homelessness, suicide, drug addiction, etc.
There is no single entity better capable of rounding up all the elements necessary to accomplish this than government. So at a time when politicians keep talking about “government being the problem” and cutting back on spending, we should be increasing government involvement and spending on mental illness, not decreasing it. Something on the order of putting a man on the moon is what is needed. I won’t hold my breath.
2. We also need to get a grip on guns. Guns are not the problem, but they are the tool that the problem-makers first grab when they cause the problems they do. Whether it’s over-population, or poverty, or mental illness, or TV, or a lack of religion and/or morality, or the economy and joblessness, or violent computer games, or an unallocated combination of some or all of those things and more, whatever the cause of the problems that result in gun violence, it’s guns that are used to express the problem. We have the wrong attitude about violence in this country, and we need to drill down and find out why. While we’re figuring that out, and that may take a long time to do, we need to restrict access to certain types of guns, to certain types of people. I don’t know how to accomplish that, but that’s a truism that is hard to object to, in my opinion.
3. I don’t hold out much hope that we will do anything at all about # 1 and #2 while the Republicans in Congress hold any power, and while the Democrats resist them. These things need all parties to come together, to forget political differences, and work for the common good of the country. Neither # 1 nor #2 is a political issue. They are human issues, and as human beings, Congress should forget their party affiliations and do something, do what we pay them to do. Legislate for OUR common good, not theirs.
If they don’t, this latest massacre will blow over in a week or two, and nothing will be done.