One more time, an angry, disturbed, mentally unstable and untreated man has destroyed lives with a random act of gun violence. This time so close to home, in a Lafayette movie theater. Maybe now there will be some serious effort at gun control so disturbed people like Houser do not have easy access to guns.

BUT, of course, the problem is much bigger than that.

If we look back at all the gun violence in the last few years, particularly the random, senseless and anonymously directed acts of gun violence, they have in common a seriously mentally and emotionally disturbed man who was NOT in treatment for his illness. When I began my work as a licensed professional counselor over 35 years ago, we had state mental health hospitals and community mental health clinics. It was not a perfect system, but it was a serious attempt to address and provide care for those who were seriously disturbed and were a threat to themselves and others.

During the Reagan years, the mental health system in our country was dismantled and the many who desperately needed mental health care were left to fend for themselves if family did not have the resources to provide them the help they needed. That tragic neglect of those most isolated, alienated, angry and disturbed is coming home to haunt us now as a country.

I have heard very little being said today about the consistent profile that all these shooters have in common: They are isolated, alienated, frustrated, angry and impotent, and the young ones are especially vulnerable to hate propaganda that encourages them to act out their frustrations in violent ways.

We need a serious reform of our mental health systems.

We need adequate gun laws to keep guns out of the hands of the unstable.

We need to ban violent video games that provide training and rehearsal for immature young men with poor impulse control.

We need to seriously reduce the amount of gun violence on TV and in movies. If we can’t stop them being produced, we can refuse to watch and pay for them: When the money dries up, so will the violent shows. If you keep paying to see violence, that is what you will get in your cities, your streets and your homes.

It just takes each of us deciding that we will not tolerate violence and will work to restore respect and civility to our communities and our country.

Jim O’Neill

licensed professional counselor