Friday, August 14, 2020     Volume: 21, Issue: 24

Santa Maria Sun / Letter To The Editor

The following article was posted on June 10th, 2014, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 15, Issue 14 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [] - Volume 15, Issue 14

I don't understand what we blame

By Ian Campbell - San Luis Obispo

Why are the Isla Vista killings being viewed as an issue of firearms, and not mental health—or lack thereof?

I have read that Rodger had been contacted by the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department three times in the weeks leading up to this tragedy, while under the care of a prominent psychiatrist, yet didn’t rate highly enough, even after his parents contacted law enforcement to warn them of menacing videos, to warrant a forced mental health evaluation by investigating officers.

The man was ill beyond measure, and had his psychiatrist or the officers that were summoned deemed a 5150 necessary, under California law, this would have triggered a five-year prohibition on firearms possession and/or new purchases. Would the psychiatrist have had an obligation to notify authorities if he suspected something, or does this still fall under some sort of patient confidentiality?

What that doesn’t address is that Rodger also murdered three roommates with knives/machetes and struck two people with his vehicle, as well as several other cars during his killing spree. He killed as many, and wounded nearly as many, victims with firearms as without. Yet all I hear from media is more about gun violence.

This is a tragedy, in every sense of the word. Not a single victim deserved death nor even a single scratch from this madman. But why paint firearms as the perpetrator, and not the man that committed every single one of these heinous acts? Why not the officers that failed to enter the apartment or call for the forced mental health evaluation? Why not the psychiatrist that perhaps didn’t recognize or report issues that reportedly terrified so many of Rodger’s peers and family? Why? How and why have we as a country stopped blaming the offender, and instead blame the drugs (prescription, illicit, or even those that are not consumed when directed by a prescriber), the implement used, or even society?

I don’t mean to come across as accusatory toward the mental health field, or law enforcement, and certainly not toward any of the victims or their families. But I certainly don’t understand the rationale for society blaming an inanimate object. If we go that route, why not blame the knives/machetes used in the apartment slayings, or the vehicle that struck pedestrians and carried Rodger so efficiently on his rampage?

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