Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Insanity and guns in Arizona

A guy with a geranium in the cranium pulled a cross-town shooting spree Sunday. He poured dozens of shots into the front doors of his back-fence neighbors, and proceeded to drive across the north side of Tucson, managed to shoot 4 policeman, 2 of them in the head. While driving. Using a military-style rifle. One of the officers, who died, had served 21 years in the military and had decided to work for TPD. The kind of cop who is there to serve, to help.

Our governor here in Arizona has vetoed several of the psychopathic bills presented by right-leaning Arizona congresspeople that would have allowed such things as waving your gun in someone's face whenever you want, carrying concealed guns on school campuses, and concealing guns in your car.

The support for such bills seems to come from a kind improvised-cowboy mentality, as if some schmo driving down the road is going to have a chance against a crazy guy with an assault rifle, the kind of guy who not only managed to shoot 4 policeman in an hour on city streets, but whose acquaintances said was way off the deep end and clearly needed to be in a psychiatric hospital.

The signs were everywhere. The guy's mental health is described in this article in the Arizona Daily Star. (Their links only last a couple weeks) He had threated to kill at least 3 people, including the poor girl who went to a highschool prom with him 7 years ago. She had called police, encountered an administrative wall of do-nothingness, and had ended up telling everyone she knew that if something happened to her, to look for this guy.

All this craziness was clearly illustrated on his MySpace page, the focus of the Star's article in the link above. That this guy should have been in a rubber room with a few straightjackets in the closet was clear.

But what happened instead. Looks like his parents bought him a house, nobody lifted a finger to intervene in spite of the obvious signs of serious mental illness.

It may be true that popular trends in mental health care may result in someone like this going away for a month or two but they have a tendency to come back, get scooped up by the police and end up in the jails instead. In this case the only thing to be thankful for was that his over-the-backfence neighbors weren't home, and he did not end up at the University or some other puplic gathering place, like the other horrors we've all read about recently.

Everybody knows there's a problem with folks like this. The poor guy just has a very serious mental disease, adult-onset schizophrenia, it was obvious to everyone he was off his rocker but for some reason he was out walking around, had a car, a house, no need to work. The article said he came over the neighbor's fence to complain about BarBQ smoke. The MySpace page had a photo the crazy guy had taken of the neighbor, along with the death threat.

There's not much of a point to made here, but an obviously insane person should not have had military rifles. It's mostly just sad, and it seems preventable. Mental health sevices, law enforcement, need to change their ways, to look for the signs of someone who is just gone and can't change. Have you ever had to call the police and had the dispatcher say, "well we can't do anything until they hurt you?"

Proliferation of guns is not the answer, the instant cowboy is not the answer. And you don't need a rifle capapble of destroying the house across the street to defend yourself against the kind of people who kick in you door in the middle of the night.

If anything the key lies with acknowledging this kind of thing happens again and again, defining what you see prior to that, and committing some individuals for at least 10 years, forget about helping healthcare organizations maintain their profit margins by letting these poor crazy souls go. It seems like popular medical theory is under corporate influence here. As if it's a sin against corporate dogma to realize that some folks are obviously dangerous. Protecting the rest of us means a life at shady acres is necessary for some folks.

Here is the interactive map of how the crazy guy drove across our pretty foothills neighborhood and filled the town with lead directed at his imaginary adversaries.

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