This is a combo of photos of Jared Loughner released Tuesday, Feb. 22, 2011, by the U.S. Marshal's Service. The photo was taken in Phoenix while Loughner was in the agency's custody after shooting Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and eighteen others at a constituent event in Tucson. (AP Photo/U.S. Marshal's Office)
Mark Mattioli should have been celebrating his son, James’s 7th birthday last month.
He never imagined he wouldn’t.
But a crazed gunman changed all of that on December 14, 2012 when he gunned down 20 young innocents and six teachers who would never again see another birthday.
In a tearful interview with Fox News’ Megyn Kelly, Mark acknowledged that the president’s new gun laws are a “false premise” that “work for people who abide by the laws,” but “criminals who conduct most of the gun crime don’t care about the law.”
Mark realizes a key truth that President Obama does not: more gun laws would have done nothing to stop the demented gunman from killing his little boy.
Even so, the president has made the aftermath of this tragedy solely about stricter gun laws. In doing so, he has done an injustice to the families of Sandy Hook, who desperately want to ensure that nothing like this ever happens again.
By making this about his liberal gun agenda, the public discourse has become a back and forth between America’s gun owners, who seek to protect their 2nd Amendment rights, and the anti-gun individuals who would like us to become more like the strict gun control countries of Europe.
As the nation remains engulfed in this debate, we do so at the expense of the real issue: mental health.
While stricter gun control measures would have done nothing to stop any of the shooters, renewed mental health efforts actually could have.
Look no further than Jared Loughner, the Tucson, Arizona shooter who gunned down Gabby Giffords, for evidence.
A cursory look at Jared Loughner’s mental health profile reveals him to be a severely mental, psychotic individual who should have been committed.
An abbreviated account of his mental health lifted from Buzzfeed goes something like this:
- May 12, 2006: A psychologist noted that, “this is the year Loughner began showing signs of depression and symptoms of schizophrenia.”
- April 6, 2010: Students complain to campus police at Pima Community College that Loughner is carrying a knife.
- May 17, 2010: A teacher asks campus police to guard her class after Loughner “throw a tantrum.”
- June 14, 2010: “In an email to friends, a 52-year-old student in Loughner’s math class describes him as a ‘mentally unstable person… that scares the living crap out of me. He is one of those whose picture you see on the news, after he has come into class with an automatic weapon.’”
- October 4, 2010: Loughner leaves school. Pima Community College School says, “He’ll need clearance from a mental health official” if he ever wishes to return.
- December 30, 2010: Loughner posts this on his My Space: “Dear Reader… I’m searching. Today! With ever concern, my shot is now ready for aim…”
- January 8, 2011: Loughner shoots 19 people. Six die.
And these are just six mental indicators on a time line of more than a dozen that Buzzfeed outlined.
Together, they paint a picture of a clearly disturbed young man who should have been monitored and committed long before he took the lives of six innocent Americans.
We’ve seen similar trends with other killers, like Aurora shooter James Holmes who told a psychiatrist he was having “homicidal thoughts” before he went on a rampage in that Colorado movie theater, killing 12.
These young men had very apparent mental issues that were ignored and are still being ignored as President Obama pushes for stricter gun laws that wouldn’t have changed anything.
How would an assault rifle ban have stopped these shooters? The deadliest shooting in U.S. history, the Virginia Tech shooting, was waged with two handguns. How would background checks have helped? Jared Loughner passed a background check, and Adam Lanza took the guns from his mother.
The fact is, more rigorous mental health monitoring could have stopped these crazed shooters; stricter gun laws would not have.
Even so, Obama continues his gun control campaign across the country, speaking in Connecticut on Monday as Congress looks to vote on Obama’s gun control package.
Speaking before a crowd in Hartford, Connecticut, Obama declared, “…Every once in a while you set politics aside and we just do what’s right. If you believe that, then I’m asking you to stand up.”
President Obama, I urge you to stand by your words, put your partisan liberal gun agenda aside, and lets come together to focus on real reform that can make a difference. American lives depend on it.