Latest Mass Shooting Leads to More Questions About Gun Regulation, Mental Health Reform
By now, the news of Elliot Rodger’s shooting spree on the University of Santa Barbara’s campus that left six dead and 13 wounded is old news. Rodger’s belief that he was unfairly scorned by women in a time of his life he thought should be all about expressing his sexuality has been buried beneath layers of nonsense ranging from “if only people were nicer to him” to “what a poor, misunderstood guy.” Regardless of the mass media’s disturbing take on what should be a clear cut case of misguided value’s and mental illness, Rodger’s assault that ended in taking his own life is prompting lawmakers across the country to reconsider gun control laws, mental health reform, and the role of the media, just as has been the case with every other mass killing for the last decade.
Rodger’s Rampage Kicks up Talk of Gun, Mental Health Reform
Mr. Rodger bought the semiautomatic weapons used in the Santa Barbara slayings legally. He had no criminal history nor any background of mental health issues that a background check would have flagged. This ability for someone that has demonstrated publicly a desire to do others harm is prompting some legislative changes in California. Many lawmakers are now supporting so-called “gun violence restraining orders.” These orders can be issued by judges. As when seeking out a lawyer, those seeking out a judge’s assistance would have to demonstrate the credibility of their claims and the target individuals actions for the event or events they are seeking assistance. It’s a mild measure when compared to calls for complete prohibition on Capitol Hill, but it could be an effective one.
Of course, as those paying attention to national politics will know, there are many who believe that any sort of gun control legislation will have no effect on deranged individuals’ ability to do harm. Instead, many argue the focus should be placed on mental healthcare reform. Representative Tim Murphy (R-PA) is currently supporting a bill that would give families the ability to make decisions for their loved ones who demonstrate that they might have a problem. Rep. Ron Barber (D-AZ) is similarly supporting a mental health measure that would expand federal programs that aim to treat people with mental illness. As is so often the case after a shooting, however, there was a lot of immediate support for reform, but it quickly died out as the issue began to fade from collective memory.
Others Push for Greater Responsibility for Media Outlets
For many, both mental health reform and stricter gun control laws can and should work together to form a tighter net that will catch the criminally deranged before they take any legal action. However, many also argue that the media needs to be made responsible for their part. Consider Youtube’s role in all of this: Google has confirmed that some of Mr. Rodger’s videos that demonstrated his declining mental health as he prepared for his attack on Santa Barbara were removed from Youtube for violating its terms of service. However, with no legal responsibility to report Elliot Rodger as a threat to public security, the company did nothing more than that.
For that reason, many are calling for laws that would place a legal burden on Google and other online outlets to report people they believe to be a threat to authorities as part of a digital Good Samaritan law. Perhaps then, in concert with gun law and mental health reform, we can finally see an end to these mass killings that have become so common.