I first heard about Aaron Alexis’ shooting spree at the same time most people did. Social media was blowing up about the gunman killing people in the Washington D.C. Naval Yard and like most, I began clicking links to get some quick information on it.
Getting live death-toll updates will always put an uneasy feeling in my stomach. Sitting at a computer or looking at my phone and having a screen tell me that as I was sitting down to eat lunch one more random American was just murdered. Someone whose day started as routinely as mine ended with their senseless execution.
Now, no matter how this news made me feel, I was not alarmed. At no moment did what I see feel shocking or unexpected; it was just happening in a new city. Getting the news about the Sandy Hook massacre, hearing the horrible story of this man who killed all of those children is still a fresh memory to me. So is hearing about a man going on a killing-spree during The Dark Knight Rises Premiere, the same night and movie my friends and I bought tickets for weeks in advance.
I don’t think anyone’s surprised anymore. When it happens, we all worry about it, we all talk about it, but it’s only become more common and nothing has done to prevent the next ones.
When I hear about massacres such as these, these are something more troubling to me than what weapon(s) were used and how many innocent people were killed and families destroyed. The most troubling news to hear about is when there were known ‘red flags’ but no one did anything about.
I would agree that it may not be the fault of the men who commit these tragedies. They were not mentally well and weren’t getting the help that they needed, but that does not excuse them or the people around them who saw the signs.
Aaron Alexis made delusional phone-calls to the police just days before the shooting. He has a history of arrests and military infractions and has admitted to hearing voices. He sought treatment for insomnia on multiple occasions and recently purchased a shotgun. Yet this man was working for the government and was given a secret security clearances in the naval yard… To me, the fact that these signs didn’t motivate anyone to be even more precautionary when giving him special clearances, is concerning.
We also can’t look past stories that don’t make national headlines. These crimes don’t always have a dozen victims at a time. Like Charles Cullen, a licensed nurse, who spent 16 years of his professional career killing patients he was caring for. Most of the hospitals he worked for had sufficient evidence, yet he was allowed to continue working and continued to seeking new employment after his bosses would bargain with him to leave; never reporting him to the proper authorities. One employer’s excuse for hiring him was Cullen ‘successfully’ underwent therapy and they couldn’t hold that against someone who was ‘rehabilitated.’ Though I’m sure the families of the 40 victims he’s admitted to killing would feel that should never have been the case.
I don’t know where to begin on a long-term solution to approaching mental illness, all I’m saying is that when your Nana starts to go senile, you take away her drivers license. It’s not her fault, but you do it because you care about her and you don’t want her to hurt herself or anyone else. So if some person is known to have some sort of inbalance or there are glaringly bright signs that he or she is not stable, why aren’t we taking away their weapons so we can protect them and the people we care about?