Krauthammer: “It’s Always the Weapon and Never the Shooter”

Daniel Doherty

9/20/2013 11:35:00 AM - Daniel Doherty

Aaron Alexis allegedly walked into the Washington Navy Yard last Monday and killed 12 innocent people. Progressives, for their part, immediately spread the lie that the now-deceased gunman used an AR-15 to kill his victims. Why? Rank political opportunism. But the real issue here, according to syndicated columnist Charles Krauthhammer, is that the latest mass shooting could have been prevented. How? Well, for starters, if our mental health care system didn't fail Aaron Alexis:

It’s always the weapon and never the shooter. Twelve people are murdered in a rampage at the Washington Navy Yard, and before sundown Senator Dianne Feinstein has called for yet another debate on gun violence. Major opprobrium is heaped on the AR-15, the semiautomatic used in the Newtown massacre.

Turns out no AR-15 was used at the Navy Yard. And the shotgun that was used was obtained legally in Virginia after the buyer, Aaron Alexis, had passed both a state and federal background check.

As was the case in the Tucson shooting — instantly politicized into a gun-control and (fabricated) tea-party-climate-of-violence issue — the origin of this crime lies not in any politically expedient externality but in the nature of the shooter.

And what was the “nature of the shooter?” Well, he was no doubt mentally unstable – and, according to Dr. K (a psychiatrist by training), probably suffering from schizophrenia:

On August 7, that same Alexis had called police from a Newport, R.I., Marriott. He was hearing voices. Three people were following him, he told the cops. They were sending microwaves through walls, making his skin vibrate and preventing him from sleeping. He had already twice changed hotels to escape the men, the radiation, the voices.

Delusions, paranoid ideation, auditory (and somatic) hallucinations: the classic symptoms of schizophrenia.

So here is this panic-stricken soul, psychotic and in terrible distress. And what does modern policing do for him? The cops tell him to “stay away from the individuals that are following him.” Then they leave.

But the three “individuals” were imaginary, for God’s sake. This is how a civilized society deals with a man in such a state of terror?

Apparently. Krauthammer notes that if he was still practicing psychiatry today, and Alexis happened to walk into his hospital, he would have immediately placed him on antipsychotic medications and, if necessary, institutionalized him -- that is, if he thought he couldn’t administer the meds himself unsupervised. This is standard operating procedure. Instead, Krauthammer writes, Alexis slipped “through the cracks.” How? How could this have happened? Alexis was so obviously troubled and the signs were so patently clear that he was out of his mind -- yet nothing was done. Unconscionable. Which is why, I think, no common sense or near-universally supported gun control law (again, Alexis passed federal and state background checks) could have prevented this atrocity from happening. The shotgun he used was purchased legally. So shouldn’t Congress' emphasis, first and foremost, be reforming our mental health care system? That way, future gunmen a la Aaron Alexis could obtain the mental health care they need before it’s too late.

Of course, not every senseless act of violence can be thwarted ahead of time. But addressing these systemic failures in our health care system, at the very least, seems like a no-brainer.