Editorial: Changing attitudes key to solving school shootings


The Lima News

Everyone agrees: Someone should do something to prevent the next school shooting tragedy.

The answer is far more complicated than making it more difficult for people to get guns, though. Obviously criminalizing school shootings must not be that effective, given that it’s already illegal to kill people in numbers large or small, yet people still do it.

The answer isn’t removing every gun that looks frightening. The Second Amendment is too foundational in our freedoms for that. The answers are so much more complicated than that.

No, we must adjust the conversation entirely. We must change the conversation from addressing school shootings to adjusting our nation’s violent culture that refuses to step out and help someone.

Let’s address one of the difficult arguments when it comes to school shooting: Experts say less than 1 percent of all yearly gun-related homicides are by people with serious mental illness, according to a 2016 report, “Mass Shootings and Mental Illness.” We can’t get caught up on technical diagnoses of mental illness here. Common sense must prevail: It’s not normal or acceptable behavior to kill another human being, especially several of them in a setting such as a school. Anyone who wants to do so must have a mental impairment and deserves treatment.

We must reconsider what we’re willing to spend as a culture on mental health. a 2009 study by the Pew Charitable Trusts and MacArthur Foundation showed the U.S. spent $147 billion on mental health treatment, with 60 percent of that money paid by taxpayers through the federal government (27 percent by Medicaid, 13 percent by Medicare and 5 percent through other federal programs) and state and local programs (15 percent).

Yet those working in that line of work say there isn’t enough funding for treatment for those who need it most.

President Donald Trump took some abuse Thursday for a tweet he sent following the mass shooting of 17 students at a Florida school, but there’s an element of truth to it.

“So many signs that the Florida shooter was mentally disturbed, even expelled from school for bad and erratic behavior,” Trump tweeted. “Neighbors and classmates knew he was a big problem. Must always report such instances to authorities, again and again!”

Now there’s word the FBI was aware of the shooter but didn’t investigate. We need to be able to trust that, when people report concerns like this, they’ll be handled appropriately and expediently. When authorities fail to follow through on obvious warning signs, it discourages citizens from speaking up, pushing us down a slippery slope toward apathy.

Gun control is a quick political hot button, but if the FBI had done its job properly, prevention of the latest tragedy may have been possible.

No one wants to live in a Big Brother society, but we’ve had the message of “see something, say something” long enough that the authorities should be able to act on those tips. One of the legitimate functions of government is protecting us from dangerous fringe members of society. No one should shirk that responsibility.

We should recognize efforts to protect our children, such as football coach and security guard Aaron Feis, who jumped in front of the shooter to shield the students. We should recognize the Buckeye Firearms Association’s FASTER Saves Lives program, which gives educators intensive violence response and trauma first aid training at no cost to the school district. We welcome some local district’s openness to discussing properly trained educators having firearms in their classrooms to help protect their students.

This is a complicated problem that will take money and changing attitudes to solve. The country didn’t devolve into this state overnight, nor should it expect to crawl back from it overnight.

When we think about who should prevent the next school shooting tragedy, the answer is all of us.


The Lima News

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