- - Thursday, August 27, 2015

Rep. Tim Murphy of Pennsylvania is a man on a mission of mercy, and the time is right. Because he’s the only licensed psychologist in the House, the Republican leaders asked him two years ago to suggest mental-health reforms that might do something about the rash of shooting incidents like the on-the-air shooting of two television journalists this week in southwest Virginia.

Mr. Murphy, who is in his seventh term in the House, like many rational people, thinks the root of the problem lies in the mental health of the shooters. President Obama and the Democrats say it’s only about the gun, as if the shooter just goes along for the ride. They want to exploit the Virginia incident for another futile attempt to eliminate guns.

Mr. Murphy spent a year developing the “Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act,” which has 105 bipartisan sponsors, and it might have been law already but for the opposition of Rep. Nancy Pelosi and her friends. She successfully blocked it last year, but the current version of the legislation could make it to a vote when Congress gets back to Washington after Labor Day.

Mr. Murphy argues that the fault is not because the government doesn’t spend enough money but that it spends money on the wrong things. Attention goes to those having a bad day rather diagnosing and treating those who need the help. These people live on the street and they’re in and out of jail, posing a threat to themselves, their families and others. About a third of all suicides are reckoned to involve such ailing men and women, and they’re responsible for as many as a thousand murders a year.

The names of some of them are well known to anyone who reads the newspapers or watches television. Adam Lanza, 20, murdered his mother and shot up the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut. James Holmes shot up a movie theater in Colorado. Aaron Alexis used a shotgun to kill at the Washington Naval Yard. Vester Lee Flanagan, alias Bryce Williams, killed the two television journalists this week.

These shooters on the dishonor roll of evil were well-known by their families, peers, employers, school officials and others as needing help even before they began their murderous assaults. None of them received any treatment or therapy. The Navy Yard shooter had been earlier detained by authorities in Rhode Island, who notified the Navy that he was a clear and severe risk to the public. The warning was ignored and the rest is, as they say, history. Important business awaits Congress when it returns from its late-summer holiday, and some of the most important is Mr. Murphy’s “Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act.” Further delay is crazy.

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