When a tragedy like the one in Connecticut occurs, my phone starts ringing. As an expert in psychology, and a mother of 5 children, people want to ask me two questions:
1) How did this happen?
2) How can we prevent this?
There really are no good answers, and reacting rashly to tragedy is seldom rational or productive. I home school, but when asked after this tragedy if parents should pull their children out of schools, my advice was that this is not the time to make such decisions. They are reactionary. The same is true for the gut reaction to want to ban certain weapons used in the crime. This is not the time to be reactive. We don’t ban cars when children die in car wrecks, no matter how sad we are. We don’t ban buckets when children drown in them, though more die in cars and buckets than by guns, by far.
There are some paths to answers. There have always been psychotic breaks. There always will be. Themes like loneliness, isolation, powerlessness and spiritual depravity are all warning signs. Professionals can see warning signs and professional organizations can do a better job alerting professionals as to the warning signs. The paths are not predictable, but are indicative. Better research, better information, and better treatments are critical goals for the mental health community, and families of those who exhibit those “red flag” warning signs.
As a researcher, I can’t deny the practical political answers that subsist outside the pervue of the mental health community. I wonder if America is really ready for some answers?
After 9-11 I began to see that the tragedy that befell America could have been largely prevented, if pilots and other military aboard the doomed aircrafts were allowed to be armed. There would likely never be another hijacking of a commercial plane, killing innocent travelers, if hijackers were stoppable. While the low information populous out there might like the simplicity of “ban guns” for their answer, complicated problems like mass tragedies experienced on 9-11, Columbine, or Connecticut require complicated analysis. The answer might seem shocking at first, but the question can’t be, “What FEELS good?” The question must be “What REALLY works?”
Erich Pratt of Gun Owners of America points out that several potential massacres have been cut short — some by average citizens, others by off-duty officers:
*Armed citizens prevented several potential tragedies from occurring in 2012 …