Gun Violence and the FBI
Whether Americans agree or disagree with President Obama's new gun control proposals, what should be evident is that he ignored many other factors that can contribute to mass killings and murder in general. The president should have done his research to determine that there is plenty of blame to go around. American Thinker asked former FBI Agents for their opinion on what is to blame.
All of those interviewed feel that a ban on weapons and ammunition will not make Americans safer. They do support more stringent background checks on all weapons sold in all venues. All confirmed to American Thinker that merely banning a particular class of weapon will not stop the urge to kill since the gun is only a tool used to murder unarmed, innocent, and vulnerable people. They believe that if the intent is there, the murderer will find a way, whether using fertilizer and diesel fuel as Timothy McVeigh did in Oklahoma, obtaining a gun illegally as William Spengler did in Webster, N.Y., or using a different type of weapon that is not banned.
The president's proposal of prosecution for possessing an "illegal weapon" is ridiculous, since those committing a horrendous crime will have to worry about being prosecuted for a lot more than having used an illegal weapon. Former FBI agent Craig Dotlo told American Thinker, "There is a saying in law enforcement, 'the fastest way to reload is to have a second weapon.' If you ban semi-automatic weapons there are revolvers with six shots. These weapons have reloaders where all six rounds go into the revolver at one time. They can do this in about five seconds. Any clear thinking person knows just having gun control won't stop this complicated problem."
An issue that all consider extremely important is a person's mental health. They seem to have a good point considering some of the facts surrounding recent mass killings. Researcher Ralph Slade found that in the last five years there have been more mass killings than in the last five decades. In taking a look at each there is a common bond: abuse of drugs and/or mental illness:
Cho Seung-Hui, the 2007 Virginia Tech killer, was diagnosed with severe anxiety disorder and depression. There were numerous reports that his behavior and writings were abnormal and violent. In 2005 he was deemed a danger to society and was hospitalized. He was released after being required to attend outpatient treatment.
The 2009 Fort Hood massacre was not considered a terrorist act by the Obama Administration, but rather termed "workplace violence," committed by Nidal Malik Hasan. During his Hasan's years at Walter Reed Medical Center there were multiple complaints about his behavior: disconnected, aloof, paranoid, belligerent, and schizoid.
Jared Loughner, the 2011 Tucson killer, underwent a personality change after he began smoking marijuana excessively. The U.S. Army rejected him as unqualified due in part to his excessive pot use. He was thrown out of his community college after those around him complained they felt unsafe because of his abnormal and violent behavior.
Throughout his college career, James Holmes, the 2012 Aurora Colorado movie shooter, saw mental health professionals. It is reported that psychiatrist Lynne Fenton went to the University of Colorado Campus Police with her concerns after Holmes told her details of his plans to kill people.
The Wisconsin Sikh Temple killer, Nade M. Page, was a self-described neo-Nazi who was part of the "white music scene" that conveyed anger, outrage, and hatred. He was kicked out of the Army with a less than honorable discharge due to alcohol abuse and was tracked by the Anti-Defamation League since 2000.
Adam Lanza, who supposedly had Asperger Syndrome Disorder, committed the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings. It was reported that shortly that before the killings his mother was preparing to commit him to a psychiatric facility. It should also be noted that he played graphically violent video games for hours on end.
In considering the above cases, those interviewed agree with the president's proposals that recognize the need to examine mental health issues when discussing gun violence. However, his proposals regarding mental health do not have any specific, clear-cut solutions and appear to be just window dressing.
Deborah Runion, an expert and consultant on school violence, told American Thinker that the mental health system in America is severely broken, with school services in particular heavily stressed, hich makes it almost impossible for parents to get help for their children. She emphasized that something is definitely wrong when the biggest provider in the mental health system is U.S. prisons. Her solution is to provide timely help that includes intense therapy involving school and parents or "there will be more Adam Lanzas and James Holmeses. Gun control is not the issue at all. School staff should be trained to identify at-risk children. If a child exhibits unusual behavior, seems withdrawn, or acts out aggressively, staff should be proactive, making sure that the child receives the assistance he needs to become a positive member of the learning community, not a negative force with which to be reckoned. Unfortunately the harsh reality is once school staff has done its part, getting effective assistance for at-risk youngsters is difficult in today's mental health environment. School systems need to work diligently with local mental health agencies and legislators to enact change that will enable our at-risk youth to get effective treatment." Unfortunately, President Obama seems to deal with this problem by "clarifying" what is covered instead of changing the system now in place.
Retired FBI Agent Gerald Clark, who worked in Federal Law Enforcement for 22 years and coauthored the book Pizza Bomber: the Inside Story of America's most Shocking Bank Robbery, has a Ph.D in criminology and a Masters degree in Forensic Psychology. He argues that in order to give necessary treatment certain civil liberties must be sacrificed in favor of a safer society. "The way it is today it is very difficult to commit someone harmful to themselves or others. They should be put into a hospital and held until they are deemed fit to be a part of society."
What also needs to be addressed is how marijuana can cause mental illness. As Patrick Kennedy stated, it "destroys the brain and expedites psychosis." Yet, two states, Colorado and Washington have legalized it. President Obama has said that enforcement of Federal drug laws is not a high priority. It will be interesting to see how background checks are handled in these states, since one criteria for denying owning a gun is possessing controlled substances.
A factor completely ignored by the president is the violence in video games, movies, and television. He probably did not want to anger his base, so he chose not to address this issue. However, all those interviewed are unequivocally in agreement that the same argument used for gun control can be used in confronting violence in entertainment. With guns it is not the law-abiding citizen that society has to worry about and with entertainment violence it's not the normal citizen that will be influenced.
Former FBI profiler Mary O'Toole has done a lot of research and feels that in a small group of adolescents and young adults, those who spend as much as six hours/day viewing violence or playing video games, are negatively influenced in a significant way. "Those who immerse themselves in this violent entertainment will walk away and be desensitized to other human beings. This is a big concern."
Former Agent Dotlo confirms this and tells American Thinker how an eight-year-old he knows told him how much fun it is "to kill people as you watch the blood spurt out all over the place." Former Agent Clark argues that entertainment violence is an important factor since these people play these games or watch these shows, "never leaving their basement; thus, never connecting with actual people. This type of entertainment allows an outlet to fantasize by glorifying and desensitizing the violence. Entertainment these days try to outdo each other with horrific ways to murder someone. Let us also not forget how violent song lyrics have become, especially in rap music that glorifies rape and violence. These are energizers that will pump someone up to do something." His solution is to take young adults to a hospital and show them what a real gunshot does to the body or take them to a prison and let them feel what it is like when they are behind a jail door.
Surprisingly, the president did not refer to the lack of communication among children today. Profiler O'Toole believes that there is an attitude change occurring in American society and at fault is the culture of social networking. This type of communication can prevent any interaction with other people. She noted that there is now a way to say bad things without seeing someone's expression or hearing someone's tone of voice. "There is no empathy and no feeling that I offended you. All of this does not require any emotional commitment. We appear to be breeding these types of people. There is no attachment, no contact, and no emotion. I call this techno-communication." Her solution is to offset this type of communication with courses from grammar school through college that teach how to communicate empathy, to be compassionate, and have respect for others.
Former Agent Dotlo, who now advises schools on how to be safe, wishes the president would concentrate more effort on this problem. He believes that there is too much unauthorized access to schools. "For example, and don't get me wrong, I think the Sandy Hook principal was a genuine hero, but a better strategy would have been for her to get on the intercom immediately and call for a lockdown. School administrators should be required to go through a course teaching these strategies. We need to overcome the mindset of administrators that think it only happens to a handful of schools so why waste the time and money. There are ways to make schools much safer such as the simple solution of only having one entrance in and out with every other door locked."
An interesting point with a lot of merit involves the president's decision to require background checks for every gun buyer in America. However, looking at the recent incident with an intern in Senator Robert Menendez's (D-NJ) office, Americans should be wary that this will indeed make them safer. Menendez hired an unpaid intern who was illegally in the country and had sexually abused a juvenile. When the senator was asked about it he said that his office was unable to perform a background check. If the Federal government cannot even do a background check on an intern working for a senator, how are they going to keep up with all those people buying guns?
The president stated in a news conference last week that his starting point is "to focus on what makes sense, what works, what we should be doing to make sure that our children are safe and that we're reducing the incidence of gun violence." With his 23 executive actions on gun control he is mainly narrowing it down to one issue, guns, which does not represent a not a careful analysis of the problem on several levels. In order to have any impact on Americans' safety, he should have considered all the factors that would have had a favorable impact, something he chose to ignore.
The author writes for American Thinker. She has done book reviews, author interviews, and has written a number of national security, political, and foreign policy articles.