I think a lot of variables all line up when terrible things happen. I am reminded of bad outcomes in the hospital. When a malpractice event occurs, the investigation nearly always reveals a series of unlikely events that happen coincidentally to lead to the mistake. There is layer after layer of preventive procedures, training and engineering controls to prevent mistakes, but they happen when "freak" events occur in a series. I think the same sort of improbable events lead to these shooters.

Mass murderers have almost by definition some element of mental illness. But mental illness is common in the population. Then there are guns. But guns are common in our population. And then there are all of the personal and social circumstances that surround these particular individuals that commit these crimes. Many people go down these paths, I believe, but most are diverted at some point onto another path that leads away from mass murder. The two main variables that are possibly controllable are mental illness and availability of efficient weapons.

Another factor is the culture of guns. I think a universal healthcare system that had mental health coverage would act like a large blanket that would catch and divert many kids and adults into treatment. I think gun laws that raise the bar for gun ownership would also divert some of these individuals from their path to destruction. Both of these social measures would constrain the culture of guns.

In any group of millions of individuals there will be aberrancy. We will never be able to identify those "needles in the haystack" that are going to commit mass murder. We can offer treatment to all and catch most of the "needles" in the blanket, though.

Gregory Hickey

Days Creek

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(3) comments

ralpho

America's Puritan heritage produced a difficult to change constitution enshrining the repression of many actions that produce pleasure in humans. Most Americans put up with their miserable lives by rationalizing in one way or another. Some explode.

pwchoices

DSM-V has 297 listed mental disorders. Hoarding, binge eating, gambling among them. So hording your dimes and nickles to pay for a three day stay in Las Vegas where you spend all day and night gambling and pigging out at the Bellagio's buffet may now qualify you as a mental case who should be denied constitutional rights. That makes sense.

How mass murder happens? Chaotically.

Mogie

There are mental health services to some extent now but how do you get those that deny they have a problem to take advantage of those services. Only a small fraction of people with mental health issues seek help. Those that don't are the ones that scare me. People are crying out about this issue but do they want to make taking medicine mandatory? Do you want to force meds on someone to make life easier and safer? That is a scary path to go down.

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