Wayne LaPierre, executive vice president of the National Rifle Association, has recommended that we put armed security guards in our schools. He’s made several stigmatizing and hurtful statements about persons with mental illnesses. I’d enjoy hearing your responses. Here are mine.
1. It would cost several billion dollars to put armed guards in every school. If we are going to spend that much public money, let’s do it to improve our mental health care system. Let’s fund mental health screening and educational programs that combat stigma by teaching students that getting a mental illness is nothing to be ashamed of.
2. Mr. LaPierre said, “Five years ago, after the Virginia Tech tragedy, when I said we should put armed security in every school, the media called me crazy…” Apparently, he has forgotten that there were armed guards on the Virginia Tech campus during the shooting there. In fact, the school has its own police force with 53 officers. Sadly, that did not stop Seung-Hui Cho from murdering 32, wounding 17 and then taking his own life. He had a treatable mental disorder that had been under control while he was under age 18 and taking medication.
3. Mr. LaPierre said:
The truth is that our society is populated by an unknown number of genuine monsters — people so deranged, so evil, so possessed by voices and driven by demons that no sane person can possible ever comprehend them. They walk among us every day. And does anybody really believe that the next Adam Lanza isn’t planning his attack on a school he’s already identified at this very moment?How many more copycats are waiting in the wings?…. A dozen more killers? A hundred? More? How can we possibly even guess how many, given our nation’s refusal to create an active national database of the mentally ill?