Thursday :: Apr 19, 2007

An Excuse For Doing Nothing?


by Steve

I realize that my post yesterday on what measures a university could take to prevent another VTech rubbed many of you the wrong way, including several folks who haven’t been around these parts at all but still managed to attack my thinking from the outset. Fair enough. Douglas Keester, you and I will disagree on this matter; that’s the way it is. You have a lot of exposure to the mental health system, and that is to be respected. But in answer to your comments, I am not a public figure, nor am I a journalist. I am simply a blogger who gets to work with other good people on this site, and there is no requirement among us here to agree with each other, or for our readers to agree with us either. We do this to talk and hash out the issues, not to browbeat each other for disagreeing with us.

But I also have a special interest in this case, and in trying to prevent it from happening again. Why? Because I am the parent of a university student. It is all too easy for each of us to simply lament the sorry state of the mental health system in this country and conclude that Cho would have gone off anyway. But that also allows us to put this behind us once again because it wasn’t our kid that was murdered.

The same conservatives who have done nothing these last six years while our privacy with our emails, our internet activities, our purchases, our phone calls, our credit histories, and our medical histories evaporated to now come unglued at the thought that local law enforcement should know whenever a student on campus purchases a handgun in violation of a university’s firearms policy. Because it wasn’t their kid who was murdered, they don’t see a reason to act when a kid living on campus with a documented court mental health referral gets a gun.

And yes, it is all too easy for fellow progressives to bemoan the lack of privacy involved with the suggestion that the university should have been told about his gun purchase and monitored him more closely after his mental health referral by a judge. I would argue that 1) our privacy has been shredded already without cause; and 2) Cho’s right to privacy regarding his mental health condition no longer outweighed the VTech student body’s right to a safe campus once he bought those guns.

Arguments about the sorry state of the mental health system, an individual’s right to privacy, or any alleged right to own a gun without the campus police knowing about it only allow us to do nothing once again in the aftermath of another tragedy. We can lament the mental health system in this country until the cows come home, or how Big Brother knows too much about us already, or the stupid suggestion that turning campuses into Dodge City is a fix-all, and yet once again nothing will be done at the end of the day. And it will still mean that these students died for nothing else except to protect the NRA’s idolatry of the Second Amendment and the left’s idolatry of privacy over security. Envision yourself telling one of the parents, who spent the last 18-20 years of their lives all for their kids, and worry about their kids’ safety every day, that their dead son or daughter is the price they have to pay for Cho’s right to privacy and alleged right to own a gun. Even more, envision telling that parent that you’re sorry, nothing could be done because “the law is the law”, or “the system is broken.”

And as a parent of a university student, who knows first hand that university medical services are lacking and reads that mental health care is lacking all across this country, I am unmoved by such arguments. Plainly put, if a university has a “no firearms” policy, I feel the university police should be notified when a student living on campus buys a weapon. I also feel that the Dean of Students should do more whenever a student is deemed mentally ill and may pose a risk to himself or others, so that the student can be contacted and can receive services. And I also feel that the university president should know both things, and then determine if that student warrants greater attention.

I know many of you disagree with me on this. I respect your opinion, and only ask that you respect mine.

Steve :: 7:09 PM :: Comments (37) :: Digg It!