We make it a habit here at the Liberal Gun Club to avoid commenting or proposing policy immediately following a tragedy, as there are always revisions, new evidence, and changes to the initial news reports. This post does not break that tradition, as it is focused on general approaches and specific actions that can be taken without policy changes or new laws.
A couple of years ago, I was in a briefing for Law Enforcement and other LE affiliated partners by the Colonel of the Connecticut State Police. The subject? Newtown. He detailed the aftermath, the investigation, and lessons learned from the event. Some of these things are public knowledge, many of them are not, specifically around the details of the murderer’s preparation and the some of the deep details of his motivation. These things are not public, supposedly, from fear of copy cats.
I think that ship has sailed.
Its clear we need that information, on that case, and on all the others. Its time we stop wishing for a magic bullet (pun intended) and start doing some of this work. It’s ALL of our responsibilities.
We consistently say these problems are complex, and require complex approaches for any long term solution. We’ve discussed and proposed many here previously. However, those solutions are very long term, hell, even any legislative ban (as unlikely as that is) will take weeks and months and years. We seem to have a problem right now.
So, as a the motivational poster says, don’t just tell me the problem, suggest a solution.
What can we do right now, besides retreat to our Red and Blue corners and dig in, what can we do besides wishing there were no guns, or wishing guns were everywhere?
It’s time for a top to bottom review of folks we’ve sidelined.
If you are a student, pay attention to your contemporaries. If they are troubled, offer them help and friendship. And continue to tell people you have concerns. And don’t take adult disinterest as the answer. Be calm, be rational, be vocal. Help them.
If you are a teacher, pay attention to those troubled students. If there is a student who has left (or been asked to leave), make a point to find out what happened to them. Are they alone? Are they in trouble? Do they lack resources, be it food, shelter or healthcare? Follow up, ESPECIALLY if “everyone knows they are troubled.” Have you talked to your peers? Smart people discussing a problem, and finding solutions sometimes works… If you can’t do it, can you find someone who can?
If you are a school official, say, one that oversees discipline, say expulsions, just for example, does your job end once the student is punished? Is there something you can do to follow up on those you’ve ejected from your schools? Those repeat offenders, are you acting as their jailor, judge and jury, or as someone charged with their well being? What are you doing RIGHT NOW with that stack of files of students in trouble? Maybe a review of your files is in order? Thoughts and prayers are not enough. It’s time to brew some coffee and go over every one of those files, line by line. Find the troubled. Reach out. Help them. Coordinate with your teachers. Coordinate with your counselors, coordinate with the families and the community. Find these kids and help them. Don’t arrest them, don’t punish them further. Help them. If you can’t do it, can you find someone who can?
If you are a mental health professional, have you cracked your case files and patient histories? Have you looked for patterns? Have you talked to the teachers? Have you lost touch with the patient? Can you find them? Can you reach out? Yes, you are bound by HIPAA, but surely, you can think of something to do to help? If you can’t do it, can you find someone who can?
And hey Law Enforcement, you need to start taking these reports and doing something with them. You have lots of time to find marijuana dealers and users, maybe we can task some of that time to coordinating with schools and school districts. Maybe we can share what we know about past atrocities in a way that doesn’t violate the intent of the silence, but helps those people build a level of familiarity that helps them see the pattern. Community policing can be about more. Not everyone needs arrested. That’s not the only tool in your arsenal (pun intended again).
Perhaps, all of “us” can get in a room and do it together? Find a way to communicate with each other. Find a way to find these people. Find a way to help them. if you don’t do it, who will? It’s going to take more than the activists. More than the organizers. More than the teachers. More than the politicians. More than the police. It literally takes a village. YOUR village.
Maybe, just maybe, as we look at our children, our friends and our neighbors, we might find people who need help. Maybe we can find them before they hurt themselves, or lose themselves to some addiction. Maybe we can find them before they pick up a weapon, be it pills, bombs, rope, razor blades or, yes Virginia, even guns.
Maybe, just maybe, if we stop wishing and start doing, we can find the next one before they act.
We can blame guns, the NRA, moral decay, gateway drugs, MS-13, Muslims, Russia, Hollywood, video games and politicians in parallel. But at least while the blame game is going on, someone else will actually be doing something. These things don’t take winning elections, they don’t take millions in lobbying, they don’t require anything but saying “enough.”
Hard work. Who goes first?