The Tragedy in CT could have been avoided! This tragedy and the multitude of horrific events that resulted in the death of so many of our citizens and babies was largely the result of the lack of resources and care for those troubled during their entire early development.
The Community Mental Health Act of 1963 (CMHA) (also known as the Community Mental Health Centers Construction Act, Mental Retardation Facilities and Construction Act, Public Law 88-164, or the Mental Retardation and Community Mental Health Centers Construction Act of 1963) was an act to provide federal funding for community mental health centers in the United States. This legislation was passed as part of John F. Kennedy‘s New Frontier. It led to considerable deinstitutionalization.
As a mental health counselor this time, I personally observed the incredible treatment of anyone that came to the Centers for help. NO ONE WAS TURNED DOWN! After about 1974, the funding for these centers dried up resulting in patients at-risk to be turned down for many of there mental health needs. Only the chronically mentally ill were afforded treatment, and only the minimum treatment with psychopharmacology at best.
If we are to reduce and possibly eliminate this horrific manifestation of the perpetration of crimes to our babies, children, teaches, etc. we must take a hard look a first and most importantly, early identification, diagnoses and treatment of those who at-risk and in need.
Parents have no place to have their children seen to identify these needs and therefore be afforded the proper treatment of their children. We must look at what worked in the past to determine how to proceed in the present and future.
I recently evaluated a sixteen year old young man at the prison. He was charged with shooting another multiple times. He had no true rationale for the shooting, only that the other disrespected him.
His early development was replete with soft signs and red flags that he was “at-risk” even before adolescents. In the late 60’s and early 70’s, there would have been a plethora of treatment for this young man that could have potentially warded off this horrific senseless crime.
There is an omnipresent noise that comes from mass interviews of “experts” NRA representative, anti-gun lobbyist and even mental health experts.. However, I have yet to hear one person speak of preventing these tragedies from occurring by appropriate mental health intervention when there is the “first sign” of the ever-present “soft signs” and red flags that become evident.
In order to solve this problem, it will take a multifaceted approach:
1. Early mental health intervention with identification of symptoms and character traits
2. Treatment: Individual and family
3. Strong gun laws that prevent the sale of all weapons used exclusively for the police and armed service.
4. Removal of all ammunition, i.e. Armour piercing bullets, etc. used for police and armed service.
5. Strict gun licensing that is focused on a comprehensive back-ground check to eliminate those individuals who have been identified as “at-risk” and with a criminal record. This would include the same protocols that are used for police recruits when applying for the position in the police force.
6. Ensure that all guns owned by individuals that are identified for police and the armed services are considered “illegal” and therefore MUST be removed from the individuals. However, a special licensing of these guns could be established that were sold prior the the change in the law prohibiting the sale and ownership of said guns. A special licensing process could be established to identify those who could own such guns. Ownership of said guns could be established by specific needs as well as ensuring that the individual passed a stringent examination to be declared eligible.