Last night I was sitting in the living room watching my eldest son play video games, listening to The Real Robert Mitchell on WWL Radio when the first stories hit social media. Active shooter in Lafayette. My wife got the first notification on her phone about the same time. Before I could tell her what she was happening, she looked at me and said “Please tell me Jessica (my oldest daughter) isn’t taking the boys to the movies tonight?” My first thought was I have no idea. I told her “Call her now!” because I had just read that the shooter was in a movie theater. She had not gone to the movies. Her best friend was missing for a short time, but popped up a little later alive and well.
Over the next several hours we watched local TV feeds from Lafayette online, while watching national coverage flipping from one network to the others as they began to loop information. All the questions started flooding into my mind. How could someone do this? What was his motivation? Why this location? How many people will lose their life due to this madman? How could this happen in Lafayette?Are any of my friends involved?
In the past 24 hours many questions have been answered, but some are still unanswered, while new questions have been added due to the information we now know. The bottom line is a madman that should have never had a gun walked into a theater with 25 other people in it and about 20 minutes into the movie stood up and started shooting. He killed two beautiful women, injured 9 others, and then took his own life when his escape plan fell apart.
I have watched in disgust when media outlets, politicians, and others in the past 24 hours tried to push a gun control agenda. People, please stop it. This guy legally bought this gun over a year ago. With his history of criminal and mental issues I don’t understand how, but that is what has been confirmed. Don’t try this again. Gun regulation is not going to stop these events. Using this crisis to further political agendas does not stop this from happening again. This is a case of a nut-job deciding to attempt to become famous by randomly killing people for no reason. If he hadn’t had access to a gun, he would have chosen another weapon.
What would have prevented this crime and events like it that seem to be happening more frequently? Well, first we need find a common thread between all of the criminals that commit these acts. I’ll admit, they all used guns, but you have to admit that is too obvious to start with. What about race? No. Religion? No. Political leanings? Again, No. The common thread between this criminal, the guy in Chattanooga, Charleston, Aurora, Newton, Fort Hood, and many more is all of these guys had a history of violent behavior and in most cases some history of mental disorders and problems from those issues.
In many cases, the people closest to them saw the signs of trouble but either ignored, or dismissed the obvious signs they were disturbed. In this case, his family tried for years to get him help for his mental issues. They removed all the weapons from the house to try to protect him and others. They finally resorted to a restraining order and got him involuntarily committed to a facility for evaluation. They did everything they could to try to get this guy the help he needed.
Part of the problem is that mental healthcare is severely underfunded. The sad part is that mental health evaluation is not what it should be, meaning that it is not hard to find stories of people going to doctors begging for loved ones to be evaluated for issues that concerns everyone around them. I remember stories of people that were in desperate need of mental healthcare being turned away because the department had run out of funds. This is not how mental healthcare should be.
Another big part of the issue is that many do not want to be thought of as interfering in someone else’s personal affairs. Some just don’t want to bothered with other people’s problems. Others figure the person is eccentric, or just having a bad day. Denying that there is a problem does not make it go away.
Another problem is there are people out there that think doing something like this will make them famous. And, to be honest, the way media does in depth coverage when a new criminal has committed another horrendous act, they may be right. It was the motivation for Charleston, and Aurora. There are signs that this event may be that too, but that has yet to be confirmed.
How do we stop these events on a consistent basis? Getting disturbed people help when they need it is a big part of that. Being willing to step up and tell those around you they need help is another. Finding a way to get the information out without making the criminal a household name would help. Making sure the people that commit these crimes and survive are prosecuted, and that they face severe penalties for their actions would be a deterrent as well.
My thoughts and prayers go out to the victims, their families and friends. I pray that the Acadiana area comes together and shows everyone that they will become a stronger community in this time of crisis. I pray that we can figure out what must be done to stop these senseless acts by deranged people that have no respect for life. Finally, I pray that our elected officials turn away from never letting a crisis going to waste, and instead work together to find a true remedy instead of a political victory at the cost of more innocent lives.