Following the Sutherland Springs shooting, President Donald Trump made the statement that what happened in Texas was an example of a mental health issue, not a gun issue. Looking back on the issue, many of us find ourselves unable to disagree with the president.
The Thanksgiving day murder of a Texas state trooper is another unfortunate example of how we need to overhaul our mental health system more than we need to worry about guns.
After three combat tours in Iraq, Dabrett Black returned a deeply disturbed man, his family says.
He slept with guns, suffered memory loss and thought someone put a chip in his brain. He was convinced people were out to get him.
In recent years, his paranoia led to repeated confrontations with law enforcement — most recently, on Thanksgiving, when he killed trooper Damon Allen, police say.
Allen pulled Black over on a routine traffic stop about two hours south of Dallas, near Fairfield, Texas. Authorities say Black grabbed a rifle and shot Allen several times, killing him. He was captured near Houston following a brief shootout.
It was the outcome his father feared for years since his 2012 discharge.
“He left here a perfect young man, but he came back all messed up,” says his father, John Black of Lindale.
Veterans who served with Black say the military failed him.
“There’s thousands of us roaming the states who have not been treated because the Army felt its quicker to kick you out than to get you help,” said Matthew Chappell, who medically retired from the Army.
The military gives people the boot, probably figuring they’re kicking them to the tender loving mercies of the Veteran’s Administration, only the VA is a dumpster fire of incompetence and corruption. There’s little to no help to be found there.
So we have someone like Black who isn’t getting the help he needed, but he’s paranoid. He believes powerful forces are after him. He’s sick and it’s clear he isn’t getting the treatment.
Many will point to him and say, “See? He could get his hands on these instruments of death. We need to do something!” What they fail to do is say just what that something is. None of us want to see another Dabrett Black killing people because of his own paranoid delusions, but how are you going to enact laws that will stop people like him from buying guns without interfering with the average American’s right to keep and bear arms?
Mental health screenings are expensive, meaning either the taxpayer has to fund them or the poor–the people most likely to be exposed to violent crime on a daily basis–will be unable to purchase guns. Since the poor are disproportionally black, that will make them the most impacted. Granted, it wouldn’t be the first time Democrats tried to bar blacks from being able to buy guns, but it won’t play well with their base these days.
No, something else has to be done, and the easiest and sanest alternative is to address the problem, not the tool.
Our mental health system allows people like Black to walk around, untreated and unremarked upon as a danger to society. Isn’t that the real problem?