Another tragedy — the thought of sending a child and loved ones to school never to see them alive again is overwhelming. Those families have our love and prayers. However, a solution is not as simple as gun control. Yes, persons with criminal records and a history of mental illness should not have access to guns.

But reality tells us, if a person deranged or otherwise wants a gun and is determined to gain access, he will manage to acquire lethal weapons. We must become knowledgeable of mental illness, personality disorders, violence potential and behaviors detrimental to the health and safety of others. There are always signs.

Unless on drugs, a person does not wake up one day and become a mass murderer. For whatever reason a person has mental or behavioral problems, we can no longer afford to ignore it. It has become tragically apparent; the problems of others can be detrimental to the health and safety of everyone.

Let’s make mental health and behavioral health services a priority. As sure as I am born to die, mental illness and behavioral problems are not going away because of fiscal problems and budget cuts.

We need to:

  • Screen applicants for guns to assure they meet established criteria (diagnostic screens developed collaboratively by law enforcement and licensed mental health professionals) including criteria for assessing and determining violent behavior or potential for violence.
  • Develop a behavioral health system allowing services on demand — no more waiting lists.
  • Develop community-based initiatives to learn and increase the awareness of the signs and symptoms of behavior detrimental to the safety of others. We should become knowledgeable and communicate with our neighbors and sincerely care about their wellbeing.
  • Realize no one is immune from such tragedies, and we must take a multifaceted approach to prevent mass murders. Please do not assume you have all the answers, be willing to listen, learn and get out of your comfort zone for meaningful solutions.
  • Make it logical and normal to seek help for mental and behavioral problems, not negative and judgmental.

It is time. There is no quick fix. This is not about being a Democrat or Republican or rich or poor. America needs to unite and work together to assure mass murders of the innocent is prevented.

Brenda Lands

retired state employee