On Guns and Mental Health

Lincoln Square: March 24, 2018, after the Parkland shootings. | Photo by Arthur Schwartz

BY ARTHUR SCHWARTZ | For the second time in a week, our country faces the horrors of a mass shooting—this time in Boulder, Colorado. In fact, there have been 20 or more such shootings in the US this year. Over the last few days, in Miami Beach, officers trying to reign in out-of-control Spring Breakers have confiscated over 600 guns, and it is amazing that there have not been shootings there.

These shootings are a reminder of the lack of progress we have made, as a country, on the need to control the inappropriate possession of guns. Every year we are confronted with a shooting like the one in Boulder yesterday, or like in Parkland, Las Vegas, or Columbine, and politicians wring their hands, call for more gun control, and then fade as the 24-hour news cycle moves on.

President Biden needs to move this issue higher on his agenda, as do our Congressional leaders, despite whatever the “I love my gun” lobby may say or threaten. Our laws here in New York State and New York City need to be strengthened—and if we need to amend the outdated Second Amendment, we should have a movement to do that. It is an anachronism of the 18th century, unmatched anywhere in the world. Half my family is Canadian, and they shudder when they hear about gun possession being a “right” in the United States.

Boulder also raises a second major problem, a problem which we face here in NYC, too.

That is our lack of a comprehensive program to identify and treat people with mental health issues. Our mental health healthcare system is worse than severely lacking. Right here in NYC, there are thousands of people with mental health problems roaming the streets. Several weeks ago, one of them stabbed and killed four riders on the subway.

Our City, despite supposed efforts by City Hall, has no meaningful mental health program. This is most significant in homeless “shelters,” often places where homeless people with mental health and drug addiction issues receive no help. Mass shooters, like subway stabbers, tend to be people with untreated mental health problems. This is a critical area, which must be addressed in the City Budget now under consideration.

My heart goes out to the children, spouses, brothers, sisters, and parents of those killed in Boulder. I cannot imagine the horrible grief that you are now facing. My prayers are with you.

Arthur Schwartz is a candidate in the race for NYC Council District 3. For info on his campaign, click here.


NOTE: Guest Opinion pieces, such as the above, do not necessarily reflect the opinion of Chelsea Community News.

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