The tragic shooting at Fort Hood last week has once again brought into focus the lethal combination of guns and mental illness, sparking renewed debate over how to keep firearms out of the hands of the mentally ill.
Spc, Ivan Lopez, 34, allegedly opened fire, killing three and wounding 16 others before fatally shooting himself at the Fort Hood army installation near Killeen, Texas, on Wednesday. Officials said Lopez was being treated for “behavioral and mental health issues” possibly stemming from a 2011 tour in Iraq.
Base commander Lt. Gen. Mark Milley said Lopez, who arrived at Fort Hood in February, had a wife and children and was taking several medications for mental health-related symptoms.
Investigators say an argument likely spurred Lopez into the deadly rampage. Lopez was allegedly armed with a .45 caliber Smith and Wesson semiautomatic handgun. The carnage reportedly ended when Lopez turned the weapon on himself after being confronted by a military police officer.
This is the latest mass shooting incident where mental illness was purportedly a factor in the actions of the alleged perpetrator:
- On July 20, 2012 a gunman opened fire at a movie theater in Aurora, Colo., claiming 70 casualties including 12 fatalities. The alleged shooter, James Holmes has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity.
- Later that year, on Dec. 14,, another gunman unleashed a deadly barrage of gunfire at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., killing 20 children and six staff members. The 20-year-old killer also reportedly shot and killed his mother in her sleep at their home before opening fire at the school. The gunman, as in this latest incident, then took his own life as police closed in on him. The shooter also purportedly suffered from a behavioral and mental health disorder.
The fact that three supposed deranged individuals caused 115 casualties between them, not including the two who committed suicide, is certainly cause for concern. However, the additional fact that these deaths were caused by people wielding legallypurchased firearms, also raises the question of the efficacy of tougher gun laws.
One may argue that a law ordering Lopez to undergo a mental health screening prior to his gun purchase or to surrender his weapons, until he was deemed no threat, may have prevented the Fort Hood shooting.
Although no such law exists in civilian statutes, it is possible that the Army may have been able to issue an order to Lopez to surrender any firearms in his possession since he is under its direct authority, but it is unlikely this would have prevented the act since officials said that Lopez was examined by a psychiatrist just before the shooting and found to be no threat.
Another consideration is what laws like this could lead to. At a minimum, it would require existing gun owners to register, a database to flag those who suffer from or develops any mental health issue that could make them a threat and mandatory registration of new firearm purchasers.
No doubt a law like this would have major hurdles to cross, as well as enforcement issues. As far as registration is concerned, there are a number of schemes that can accomplish this, such as having individuals attest to gun ownership under penalty of perjury when renewing license and/or vehicle registrations, for example—effectively turning those who don’t comply into criminals.
Conversely, as we saw with the Lopez case, it is obviously difficult to predict what someone will do. This fact alone could lead mental health professionals to err on the side of caution and add otherwise stable people to the database to avoid possible liability.
Obviously, such a setup could easily be converted into a tool for confiscation—something that has piqued more than a little concern among gun owners.
Imagine police conducting raids to disarm those whose names end up in the database who didn’t surrender their weapons. At this point, it could safely be said that the fabled police state has arrived and the revolution has begun as staunch Second Amendment supporters rally in resistance to such tyranny. This is no dramatic overstatement as it is this writer’s belief that a substantial amount of Americans would not support such a move.
We would see the ranks of militias swell across the country, as well as the cropping-up of new ones. There is not much doubt that any measure perceived as a clear and immediate move to seize weapons would be catastrophic.
It is also apparent that there is no quick and easy fix for these issues, so what can we do in the meantime?
Should we just continue to mill about like cattle and wait for the next mass shooting that could happen at any time? Should we risk a return to the days of the Old West by arming everyone? Or, should we put our trust in the government and hope that it will provide the best solution?
tjlarson is based in Colorado Springs, Colorado, United States of America, and is an Anchor for Allvoices.
5 thoughts on “Fort Hood shooting draws more attention to mental health issues, gun laws”
This was the goal:
To make veterans look dangerous. To make anyone that has been on psychiatric drugs, look dangerous.
Moving towards taking guns away from both groups.
Fully 1/3 Americans have been on these type meds. That means that 1 out of 3 gun owners have likely been on them at some point.
What would happen if they banned guns for people that have been prescribed these type of meds.
People need to think about that.
How about a hardcore investigation of the drugs handed out on citizens/pushed by the big pharm companies and their bought out politicians,never see that part of these incidents and the role they play go anywhere it seems excepting in the alt media,which,believe we have come to a point where the so called alt media may be the main media with the 3 letter news outfits and birdcage liner papers the alt now.
Well now we know what the Ft. Hood shooting was all about. Just another false-flag to launch the latest attack on the second article.
These desperate attempts to seize firearms are making their tyrannical goals more and more obvious, so this latest nonsense only works to our benefit.
Faux Flag or not they (military bases) have been retooled as an environment begging for this situation to occur; not much different than school or any other ‘gun free zone’.
“The alleged shooter, James Holmes has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity.
◾Later that year, on Dec. 14,, another gunman unleashed a deadly barrage of gunfire at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., killing 20 children and six staff members. The 20-year-old killer also reportedly shot and killed his mother in her sleep at their home before opening fire at the school. The gunman, as in this latest incident, then took his own life as police closed in on him. The shooter also purportedly suffered from a behavioral and mental health disorder.”
How is it that the author got the Holmes incident right (ALLEGED shooter), but managed to drop the ball on the Sandy Hoax incident?
Must have only taken half the red pill.