Brian Kotowski: Letter offers nothing meaningful in wake of school shooting
February 16, 2018
Brodie Farquhar’s recent letter to the editor condemns the "thoughts and prayers" offered after the murders in Florida. It contains a laundry list of predictable partisan talking points and contributes absolutely nothing useful or meaningful.
We now know that the Florida shooter was reported to the FBI five months ago after posting a YouTube video wherein he proclaimed his desire to become a "professional school shooter."
The shooter who murdered nine people at a Charleston church in 2015 was permitted to purchase his .45 caliber pistol because multiple failures of law enforcement – local, state and federal – to enforce their own protocols and background checks. As then-FBI Director James Comey said at the time, "We are all sick this happened. We wish we could turn back time. From this vantage point, everything seems obvious."
There is a depressingly long catalog of similarly garish red flags that were missed by law enforcement, despite the statutes that oblige them to look long and hard at demonstrably virulent threats: The Fort Hood shooter; the Boston Marathon bombers; the Orlando nightclub shooter; and the worst of the school shooters (in terms of death toll) at Virginia Tech. I could go on and on, but the litany would rapidly exhaust the 600-word limit imposed upon letters to the editor.
Six years ago, in the wake of the Sandy Hook atrocity, Charles Krauthammer, a Harvard-trained psychiatrist, proposed the notion of involuntary commitment of those deemed by professionals to be dangerous: "As a psychiatrist in Massachusetts in the 1970s, I committed people — often right out of the emergency room — as a danger to themselves or to others. I never did so lightly, but I labored under none of the bureaucratic and legal constraints that make involuntary commitment infinitely more difficult today."
Involuntary commitment should make everyone’s skin crawl. But it’s a discussion worth having. It is long past time that we shift the focus from methodology to motivation. Until then, letters like Brodie Farquhar’s are just noise.
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