The following editorial is by John Farnam of Defense Training International

A recent Arizona newspaper’s Sunday editorial suggested “… identifying the mentally-ill, instead of posting armed guards at schools” as the solution to future school shootings.

Here is a friend’s excellent response:

“Your editorial headline Sunday said ‘Let’s identify the mentally ill, not post guards…..we must find those who need help to prevent more shootings. ‘

That, dear editors, is wish-thinking and a ‘feel-good’ approach requiring clairvoyance and resources so far beyond our ability to provide, that it makes lack-of-funding for the other services you mentioned seem a grain of sand on the beach.

After events such as the most recent school shooting two things always happen simultaneously:

(1) The whole country engages in an orgy of writing and talking about gun-control and mental-health care, and

(2) Gun and ammunition sales spike upwards.

I think those activities are quite predictable. From time-to-time, and like this time, all populations engage in individual and mass wish-thinking. It makes us feel better. For some, it makes us feel as if we’re ‘doing something.’ It’s part of how we deal with bad news. We all want bad events not to have happened and for things to be better/safer in the future. ‘How can we prevent this from happening again?’ is the mantra. And off we sail on the wings of our wishful thoughts: Gather up all the guns and ammo from people who shouldn’t have them; Effectively treat our mentally ill; Prevent bad people from doing bad things.

Then, for some, comes the sad realization that, in fact:

Such things are not preventable and never will be;

That there are, in fact, evil/insane people among us who sometimes do evil/insane things;

That during some brief terrible moments, the mayhem will, in fact, proceed unless effectively, probably violently, opposed on-the-spot;

That the police won’t be/can’t be there until later;

That if/when such an event occurs, you’ll be on your own.

Those are the people buying guns and ammunition!

Do you think passing new laws will prevent school shootings any more than they prevent burglaries and other crimes? Is it not apparent to you that criminals ignore laws?

Your ideas of ‘…identifying the mentally ill…’ and ‘finding those who need help to prevent more shootings’ I regard as more dangerous than the NRA ‘s ideas you oppose. Unspoken by you is who will do the ‘identifying’ and what coercion will be brought to bear upon those so identified. Dangerous ground, that.

I, too, wish we had a more safe, predictable, tranquil society than we do. However, your idea that we can somehow ‘identify’ and ‘help’ all the future perpetrators of mayhem in-advance, the ‘safety net’ you propose, I regard as nearly the epitome of ‘wishful thinking.’ We don’t have the expertise. We don’t have the personnel or facilities. And we don’t have and will not have the money to acquire them.”

My comment: Calling political opponents “insane,” and then herding them all into “mental treatment facilities,” read that: “concentration camps,” is a common technique political despots the world over use to silence opposition.

Throwing people into prison, because someone thinks they might commit a crime? Dangerous ground, indeed!

John S. Farnam

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