The horrible massacre that happened at the Century 16 Cineplex in Aurora, Colorado has set off the debate between second amendment and gun control activists. According to reports, the suspected gunman, 24-year old James Holmes, allegedly shot 71 people at the midnight showing of The Dark Knight Rises at the Aurora theater.
Twelve people were killed and 59 were treated for injuries. With red dyed hair, Mr. Holmes was described as wearing a ballistics outfit and gas mask. According to reports, Mr. Holmes referred to himself as “the Joker” the same name of the Batman comic book villain. Mr. Holmes also told police that his residence was booby-trapped.
A California woman who identified herself as the mother of James Holmes, the 24-year-old man federal authorities said is the suspect in a mass shooting in an Aurora, Colorado movie theater, told ABC News her son was likely the alleged culprit, saying, “You have the right person.”
The woman, contacted at her home in San Diego, spoke briefly with ABC News and immediately expressed concern her son may be involved in the shooting death of at least 12 people overnight.
“You have the right person,” she said, apparently speaking on gut instinct. “I need to call the police… I need to fly out to Colorado.”
Mental illness is already at the center of attention in this particular shooting. Holmes reportedly purchased his weapons legally and many are wondering how it is possible that Holmes could do that if he has a mental illness. As I wrote in January of 2011 following the shooting in Tuscon, Arizona, FBI background checks do not include mental illness issues of individuals:
Jared Lee Loughner, the alleged gunman who critically wounded among others Arizona Democratic Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and killed six, including: Gifford’s aide, a federal judge, and a nine-year old girl has been described as a mentally ill individual who is a drug user.
Despite the fact that Mr. Loughner’s community college suspected he had mental illness issues, he was able to purchase a 9 mm weapon. Many wonder why someone like Jared Loughner’s mental illness information did not appear in the FBI background check the store used at the time Mr. Loughner purchased his weapon.
Unfortunately, liberal legislation makes it difficult to document such cases like Mr. Loughner easily, so even if Arizona submitted all of it’s mental illness cases to the federal government to be included in instant FBI background checks, someone like Mr. Loughner would still fall through the cracks.
Essentially, the mentally ill person needs to first cooperate with law enforcement, the courts, and the hospitals before any record of his illness ever becomes documented. Mr. Loughner was not even close to that point yet. So while Arizona had only submitted 4,465 mental illness cases for gun disqualification to the federal government in almost three years, Mr. Loughner was never documented as being mentally ill by authorities yet anyway, despite suspicions from college classmates and officials.
In 2007, ABC News reports, “A court found that Virginia Tech killer Seung-Hui Cho was ‘mentally ill’ and potentially dangerous. Then it let him go.” According to ABC News:
In December 2005 — more than a year before Monday’s mass shootings — a district court in Montgomery County, Va., ruled that Cho presented “an imminent danger to self or others.” That was the necessary criterion for a detention order, so that Cho, who had been accused of stalking by two female schoolmates, could be evaluated by a state doctor and ordered to undergo outpatient care.
According to the “Temporary Detention Order” obtained by ABC News, psychologist Roy Crouse found Cho’s “affect is flat and mood is depressed.
“He denies suicidal ideation. He does not acknowledge symptoms of a thought disorder,” Dr. Crouse wrote. “His insight and judgment are normal.”
Getting a mentally ill individual who is also a danger to themselves and others into some kind of treatment can also be difficult.
According to Treatment Advocacy Center: (bolding is mine)
Colorado, like every state, has its own civil commitment laws that establish criteria for determining when court-ordered treatment is appropriate for individuals with severe mental illness who are too ill to seek care voluntarily. The state authorizes both inpatient (hospital) and outpatient (community) treatment, which is known in Colorado as “court-ordered outpatient treatment.” It is one of the 27 states whose involuntary treatment standard is based on a person’s “need for treatment” rather than only the person’s likelihood of being dangerous to self or others.
Perhaps the focus should be more about the U.S. health and legal systems’ treatment of the mentally ill as opposed to creating yet another gun control law for everybody.