Tomorrow will mark three weeks since the Newtown, Conn., school massacre. The wretchedness of that day has touched off a national debate about preventing mass murders — as it should. But lately the conversation has narrowed to gun control.
In a year-end interview, responding to a question about the political fights ahead, President Barack Obama voiced his support for banning assault rifles and high-capacity clips, and for better background checks for gun buyers. What I didn’t hear from the president was a vow to strengthen our mental health system to treat people like Adam Lanza before they descend into madness. Whatever Lanza’s technical diagnosis — schizophrenia? — executing two classrooms of first-graders is by definition mad.
Gun control is easier to discuss, because there is an identifiable, organized opposition in the National Rifle Association. But mental illness is harder to recognize, reach and heal. (more…)