I read BerkshireDaily with interest from here in London. It seems to me no one has commented on the other problem in the US that leads to the awful “gunmen running amok events”, which happen with such regularity in the U.S. Other countries are not immune, as the terrible events in Norway last summer testify. However, the lack of a National Health Service in the US exacerbates the problem.
In Britain, the autistic gunman in Connecticut would have been identified by his teachers as a child, referred to an appropriate health care agency, and probably already have been in secure accommodation (“sectioned” is the term we use). This is a legal process that works to ensure those a danger to society and themselves are not at large. A social worker would have been assigned to the family and observed his mother’s aberrant child rearing practices. No system is perfect but it is much more likely Mr. Lanza would have been treated sufficiently to stop such a disaster from happening.
In the US, there is no mechanism for this. Do you remember last year, the Vietnamese student in America who ran amok killing many of his fellow students? The students and the teachers were frightened of him. His parents were poor immigrants from an alien culture with no idea their son was seriously disturbed. In Britain, he would have been identified in primary school and would have been receiving specialist treatment from childhood. That doesn’t mean people don’t run amok here, but they are rarely teenagers, taking out their anger on their primary school. We had that one horrible incident in Dunblane (birthplace of one Andy Murray). When it happens, the gun laws are tightened up even further.
The Rogovoy Report is a fascinating insight into the US. Thank you for it.
— Judith M. Steiner, formerly Canadian (but not since 1965), and British since 1970. 12.18.12