On June 6, AZ Central carried a column from former Arizona Republic reporter Tom Zoellner in which Zoellner argues that Democrats created the mental health crisis our country currently faces–and that instead of fixing it, they are using it to exploit recent shootings.
Zoellner is an admitted Obama supporter who believes the Republican approach to mental health is simply far better than the approach Democrats are pushing.
According to Zoellner, the roots of the current mental health crisis can be traced back to JFK’s de-institutionalization of the mentally ill–done under the guise of “setting them free to live independent lives and receive counseling and drugs from outpatient clinics.” He argues that this one-size-fits-all approach “worked in some cases but failed miserably in others.”
He argues that the ultimate result of this shift was that the “seriously mentally ill (SMI)…are frequently bounced between jail and the streets in a miserable cycle that ends in death.”
Zoellner sees Jared Loughner–the gunman who shot former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ)–as a direct product of this approach to mental health. He suggests Santa Barbara gunman Elliot Rodger fits the mould as well.
But he points out that using the mental health crisis as an impetus for gun control is misdirected because “violent behavior is quite rare among the mentally ill.” However, Democrats who lobby for “Big Mental Health” do not want to do anything that might harm the hand that feeds them. Thus they go after guns instead of reversing former policies and institutionalizing those who need to be institutionalized.
Consequently, Representative Ron Barber (D-AZ) is currently pushing a mental health bill that Zoellner says will not fix anything because it does not address the Democrat failures in this area.
This is a case where Democrats in Congress need to stop coddling a powerful corporate interest and start using taxpayer resources for the highest and greatest good. It will be a disgrace–and a public health risk–if the curious sickness of blind partisanship gets in the way.
Follow AWR Hawkins on Twitter @AWRHawkins Reach him directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.