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Excuses don’t save lives.

November 7, 2017

Edited: 3:05 p.m. 11/7/17.  According to multiple sources, the Air Force has revealed that it did in fact place the Texas church murderer in a mental health facility in 2012 for observation, from whence he escaped briefly.  Apparently neither the Sunland Park Police Department nor the Air Force reported that to the FBI database either.   


In the wake of the Texas church massacre, we’re hearing a lot of the same-old-same-o.

If you have an opinion or a fixation on gun control or President Trump, nothing in this post is going to change your mind.  So be it, but you are missing the point.

We are missing a far more important issue, proactive deterrence.

Probably almost more disturbing than the act itself is the way some people are characterizing the shooter.

On one cable channel, a profiler said his behavior was “inappropriate” in relation to his interaction with his in-laws.

On another, another “expert” said he had “unresolved anger management issues.”

He apparently could show two faces to the world.

Some people said he was anything from “friendly” to quiet and reserved.

Former co-workers and classmates described him as “weird”, “crazy”, “mean” and “a bully.”

First to the eggheads.

Beating and choking your wife,  fracturing your step-son’s skull, and beating and starving your dog is not an “anger management” issue.

It’s sadism. It’s about inflicting pain and fear on someone weaker,  just because you can.

Mass murderers and serial killers often display this sort of dual or schizoid personality.

Ted Bundy was often described as intelligent, charming, personable and friendly.  He was also a cold-blooded killer and necrophiliac who admitted to murdering 36 young women, and was suspected of having at least 100 victims.

Ted Kaczynski, the Unabomber and self-made terrorist, was described by post-arrest psychological studies as having a “paranoid personality disorder with avoidant and antisocial features” and he wasn’t caught for almost twenty years. In the meantime he killed three people and wounded 23 others.

Someone with far more investigative resources than those available to this blog will undoubtedly do a more in-depth biographical study of Devin Kelly.

One thing will come out of that.  There will be multiple people who recognized him as being what we illiterate commoners would call crazy.

The trouble is, as a society we don’t seem to want to deal with the Devin Kelly’s of the world.

That is to say, we don’t have a useful mechanism for removing them permanently from normal society.

Yes, we can put them in jail, and the Air Force did that. Unfortunately they almost always get out.

We can shoot them, but that always happens after the fact, after there has been some horrific crime or event committed.

We can pretend to “treat” them. Perhaps someone in this most recent shooters past tried that or perhaps they simply chose to ignore or make excuses for his behavior. We don’t know that yet.

But what we don’t do very often is to simply put them into a situation where they can’t hurt people, i.e. commit them to psychiatric facilities. Quarantine them, if you prefer.

We recognize the need for that acton when someone’s dog bites without provocation. How can we be so naive as not to recognize the need when it’s a human?

Further examination may show that he had been abused. Or, maybe it will show that his own family was afraid of him or indulged and excused him or that some social service worker or teacher felt uneasy about him but either didn’t or couldn’t do anything other than make a note in a chart.

We just don’t know.

What we do know, even now, is that this shooter had  a long-standing, maybe even evolutionary pattern of destructive behavior that no one handled.

It’s time to have a real conversation about that, and then back that up with real action.

Perhaps we need laws that require domestic  (and animal) abusers to automatically receive a sentence that includes an in-depth psychological evaluation prior to sentencing them under the criminal codes.

Perhaps certain diagnoses should be entered into the public record before someone dies or is severely injured.

What we don’t need to do is to transfer the blame for one person’s actions on anyone or anything other than the person committing the crime. Not the Air Force, not the President, not the gun manufacturers, not the church members for not being armed themselves, not the in-laws.

The person responsible for the church massacre was mass murderer Devin Patrick Kelly.

Control the person, and you can control the outcome.


From → op-ed

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