Post-Oxford task force pushes for mental health services

AP Photo/Paul Sancya

In the wake of any mass shooting, there’s a profound desire for answers. After the shooting in Oxford, Michigan, a task force was set up to look at what could be done.

Now, that task force has suggestions, one of which is increased mental health services.

The School Safety Task Force was formed after the Oxford High school shooting that took the lives of four students last winter.

The Task Force issued some preliminary recommendations, but gun control is not being emphasized.

It’s been five months since a student at Oxford high school in Oakland County went and allegedly shot and killed four of his classmates and injured others.

Republican dairy farmer-turned-lawmaker Luke Meerman is one of the co-chairs of the School Safety Task Force, which recently issued a preliminary report on what schools need.

Needless to say, more mental health services are high on the list.

“One of the reasons I’m there is I’ve had a mental health focus for more than a year,” said Meerman. “Many of these kids are really suffering and we need to find them and help them before this occurs.”

There were public comments made to the committee that gun control was needed, but the response was that it was basically not feasible and the task force wants to focus on what it can get done.

Frankly, that’s smart. At least, it is in my opinion.

And let’s be real here, focusing on mental health is smart as well.

Understand that I’m not saying people with mental illness are a problem. That’s a very broad term that doesn’t really clarify anything. It’s like saying someone is sick. They could have a cold or they could have a terminal brain tumor.

Mental illness is a lot like that. Most people suffering from it aren’t a danger to anyone, including themselves. They’re not going to go on a murder spree.

The problem is that there are some who are more likely to be dangerous than others. Those people need help before anyone does get hurt.

Yes, including themselves.

Now, is this a slam dunk policy decision that’s guaranteed to prevent another mass shooting? Of course not. But it’s something that may stop a lot of them from happening, and even if it doesn’t, there are a lot of people who could use the help.

If anything good can come out of Oxford, increasing mental health resources should probably be it. Especially since it’s less likely to result in people losing their rights because of the actions of a third party.

And since gun control doesn’t seem to be on the agenda, that’s a huge win for folks in Michigan. That’s the last thing anyone needs, especially because there’s no evidence any kind of gun control policy would have prevented Oxford.

As such, why should we believe that it will stop the next mass shooting, either?

But treating people before they become mass killers? That’s a winning strategy we should all be able to get behind for once.