Last Friday a very sick man killed many people in a movie theater in Colorado.
I've been trying for several days to work into words my thoughts and what I wanted to say about this horrible tragedy. I've been struggling to avoid discussions of gun control and gun ownership because I don't think that's entirely it. I have been saving a post titled The Seven Stages of Gun Violence by one of my favorite writers, Jim Wright, because I thought I knew what he'd say and I knew it would be good and I didn't want his words in my brain before I had my own there.
Last night I was enjoying dinner with friends from book club, and as we were waiting for Ms. Sallie to arrive discussion came around to this topic. I finally got out that this man, this James Holmes, was so very sick, so clearly in need of mental health services and that I wished that this was a major talking point rather than gun control and this stuck with me as a starting point for what I wanted to say.
This morning I clicked over to Jim's blog and read his Seven Stages of Gun Violence and right there at the top he had a quote from another great blogger and news person:
It is easier for a crazy person to get an automatic weapon than healthcare in America. - Shannyn Moore, Moore Up North
And that was it, those are the words I'm trying to say. This man, this very clearly sick man, found it easier to acquire a very large number of very dangerous weapons than to get the mental healthcare necessary to help him see that this cache of weapons and whatever his plans to do with them wasn't a good idea.
Now all my conservative friends (do I have any? is that crickets I hear?) are going to start with "Oh there goes that crazy liberal lefty Amanda starting in on Obamacare" and I'll just stop you right there and say no, that isn't it. That's part of it, yes. I do think that everyone should be able to get medical care if they need it, especially in a country with the resources that ours has. But the brain is complicated mess of wiring and chemicals and we don't come close to understanding it but we should do a better job as a society of helping each other.
I got to wondering, and maybe we'll someday learn, did James Holmes not have a single friend who thought that his obsession with weapons was a bit extreme? Did no one think that some of the things he'd recently said weren't totally batshit? Did not one person think to themselves, "gee, James is more than a little off lately, I think I'm going to just ask him if he needs anything or if he wants to talk, or if I can help him find the phone number to a mental health professional?" I know that we're in this weird world of put it all out there on the internet but then don't talk to each other face to face, but I'd like to think that if the chemicals in my brain went totally off the rails that the person I drink coffee with every morning would say "Hey Amanda, something seems a little off. Are you okay? Can I call your husband? Can I do something to help?" Because having head to toe kevlar when you aren't in the military or police forces isn't normal. Booby trapping your appartment with bombs isn't normal. Weapons aside, a total obsession with any particular thing, but yes violence in particular, isn't normal. If you became totally enthralled with unicorns, as awesome as unicorns are, and started filling your home with all things unicorn and talking all things unicorn, I think I'd ask you if you were okay and I'd maybe try to get someone who can help involved. And if I live in a world where people turn their heads at that or DO think it's normal, then I think we're going to have a lot more incidents like the one that happened on July 20th.
In short, more medical and human intervention, less ability to obtain weapons of mass destruction.