Following 30 years of full-time psychiatric practice, I have worked temporary fill-in assignments in 25 different inner-city mental hygiene clinics in five different states. These clinics treat the most severe of mental illnesses, some with extensive histories of hospitalization, commitments and incarceration.
These clinics are effective in responding to statements or acts of physical threats to others or to suicide, and quickly forwarding the patients to protected evaluation and treatment in hospitals. Like Maui Community Clinic, they are all underfunded, understaffed and the workers underpaid.
Pro-gun advocates propose that better mental health treatment will solve these repeated incidents of violence. Imagine these clinics fully funded and capable of providing the most successful manners of treatment. They will still not have - now or in the foreseeable future - the kind of knowledge or ability to predict and stop these episodes of violence like we all want. The vast majority of the mentally ill are innocent and harmless, but do stir sadness and frustration in relatives and friends. Discussing "big brother" mental health evaluations of everyone or demanding extreme treatments for the disturbed is disingenuous and diverts attention away from the major underlying cause of these terrible tragedies.
There is no justification for the possession of individual weapons of mass destruction that may be necessary in valid warfare. The first step in decreasing such violence is to eliminate assault weapons from inside our nation's borders.
Robert D. Anderson, M.D.