The Daily Southerner, Tarboro, NC

January 2, 2013

To the Editor:


TARBORO — To the Editor:

The Newtown incident of violence as with the Aurora, Tucson, and Virginia Tech incidents brought out the gun control advocates. But is gun control the answer or must we really look to other areas. There has been little discussion of the mental health issues and the environment surrounding the perpetrators of these massacres. The sheer nature of these violent attacks on our citizens makes it quite evident that there is and always has been a mental health component in any attempt at mass killing of individuals.

We have research data collected by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on the law that implemented the Federal Assault Weapons Ban that was in effect from September 13, 1994 until September 13, 2004. The data indicates that bans and gun control laws have little to no impact in decreasing violent gun crimes. Based on that data we should now be looking at other areas for the reason behind the violent episodes in Aurora, Newtown, Tucson, and Virginia Tech.

Mental health issues have been identified as part of the make-up of each of the gun wielding killers in Aurora, Newtown, Tucson, and Virginia Tech. We now should approach our current laws dealing with mental health issues in a new light. We should be looking at new and more effective ways of identifying and dealing with those whose mental stability have been brought into question.

North Carolina, like many other states, has closed the state run in-patient facilities for mental health. These closures have left the state with no facilities to house the mentally ill except within our local communities. It also has left the state with no state run in-patient facility totally dedicated to the mental health of its citizens. A state run in-patient facility would also be an excellent research facility to identify behavior associated with individuals that perpetrate crimes such as those that took place in Aurora, Newtown, Tucson, and Virginia Tech.

From research we know that gun control is not the answer to the crimes such as those in Aurora, Newtown, Tucson, and Virginia Tech! We must now redirect our efforts for the future and do whatever we can to limit or stop future massacres. To find a solution research will have to be performed. Do we really have the facilities to do research on mental health issues to identify the causes that prompted those who have perpetrated these murders?

Ray Shamlin

Rocky Mount