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Saturday, April 05, 2014

Guns - Increase support for mental health care coupled by levying exorbitant taxes on ammunition to prevent future preventable killings

A Christian Science Monitor article raises the question about having military personnel carry guns on bases following a second Fort Hood Texas deadly shooting last week.  

Carrying guns won't solve the problem of preventing a lone gunman with a history of mental illness from killing people without warning, regardless of where, military base or anywhere else. 

What would be preventative, instead, is more support for mental health services coupled with levying exorbitant taxes on ammunition. 

Of course, it's impossible to say if either of these two recommended prevention initiatives would've saved lives at Fort Hood. Yet, the fact is, the killer who eventually died of a self inflicted wound was actually receiving mental health care at the time he shot people.  

In retrospect, the shooter who injured many, plus killed three people and himself needed to receive intense psychiatric treatment. Unfortunately, he wasn't kept under observation during an obviously deadly psychotic episode. 

Moreover, although the shooter was qualified to buy a gun at the local Guns Galore automat, he wasn't a wealthy man, so having to pay an exorbitant tax for ammunition could've deterred him from acting on his psychosis.  

US Army Spc. Ivan Lopez went on a shooting spree that left three fellow soldiers dead and 16 injured on Wednesday at Fort Hood, Texas.  Eyewitnesses reported seeing people fleeing buildings and jumping fences to get away from the barrage of gunfire. It wasn’t until a Fort Hood Military Police officer raised her gun toward Mr. Lopez that the spree ended, with the 34-year-old enlisted man taking his own life.

Gun zealots might use the confrontation of the shooter by an officer with a gun as the solution to prevent future killings. Although the officer was certainly brave in her confrontation, her actions didn't save the lives or prevent injuries for those who were already victims, before the shooter killed himself.

What the Fort Hood victims needed was prevention of the incident.  
Tragically, Lopez was badly in need of mental health care but he was not receiving the intense treatment he badly needed.

Tragically, Lopez acted out his psychosis by buying a gun and ammunition.  

Tragically, the people at Fort Hood are traumatized by another mass shooting; and they, probably more than anyone else, know that this incident could've been prevented.

It isn't more guns that will save lives and prevent shootings on military bases or anywhere else. Rather, it's support for prevention, and that means money. Therefore, use the money received from taxing ammunition to fund mental health care. 

In my opinion, a common sense solution of coupling taxes on ammunition with mental health care is a far more effective and humanitarian way to save lives than putting even more guns into our society. 

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