01/13 - Newtown: A Louisiana Perspective

Where does Louisiana stand in this national discussion on guns and mental health?

When a lone shooter took the lives of 20 children and 6 adults at an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut, his actions started a national conversation about the issues of gun control and treatment of the mentally ill. President Obama has vowed to make reducing gun violence a “central issue” of his second term and has created a task force to help prevent a future Newtown-style massacre. Members of Congress have begun a dialogue about mental health and privacy issues.

Where does Louisiana stand in this national discussion on guns and mental health? Louisiana voters recently passed a state constitutional amendment making its citizens’ right to bear arms, the strongest in the nation. How will national gun control proposals affect the 45% of Louisianans who own guns?

Budget cuts have hit mental health care services and facilities statewide. Will reduced funding of mental health services put a vulnerable population at further risk of harming themselves or others?

Louisiana Public Square explores the answers to these questions and more.

Watch What Next After Newtown on PBS. See more from After Newtown.

Backgrounder

On December 14, 2012, Adam Lanza: 20 years old, shot his way into the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Hartford, Connecticut and killed 20 children and 6 adults. The weapons he used were a .223-caliber Bushmaster XM-15 rifle, a 10mm Glock 20 SF handgun and a 9mm SIG Sauer handgun. A shotgun was found in the car Lanza had driven to the school. The weapons were legally owned by Lanza's mother, who was a gun enthusiast.

Lanza's brother told law enforcement that Adam was believed to have a personality disorder and was "somewhat autistic". The Hartford Connecticut newspaper, The Courant, reports that investigators believe Lanza spent much of his time during the weeks before the shooting playing violent video games on his computer.

...Read Full Backgrounder

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Our Panelists:

RESOURCES

"Safety Panel Discussion" - A week after the Newtown shooting spree, LPB's weekly news program, "Louisiana: The State We're In" hosted a panel discussion on school safety, mental health and gun control issues.

“Identifying Signs of Emotional Problems” (pdf) Courtesy of Capital Area Human Services District

"What's Next After Newtown" - The 3-hour WNET New York Public Media special "What's Next After Newtown" covers mental health, school safety and gun control issues.(pdf)

Watch segments here.

Watch the PBS special coverage below:

Watch After Newtown on PBS. See more from After Newtown.

We want to know your opinion! Leave your comments in the box below.


There are no simple solutions to mass murders.  The people that perform these hideous acts are deranged by mental illness or by environmental influences that include family, movies,TV, video games, lack of spiritual connections and schools.  Focusing on gun control is not the answer to the problem.  You can not legislate morality.  Rushing to pass laws without meaningful debate or having presidential executive orders are just band aid attempts to solve the problem.  The right to bear arms is extremely important in this country or in any country that wants to remain free.  Let’s don’t rush to pass feel good bills that will have terrible consequences.

Posted by Lynn Tucker,M.D.  on  01/15  at  08:16 PM

In response to Dr. Tuckers comments. I listened to violent music, played video games from their beginning, watched violent movies before new rating system, grew up in a poor rough neighborhood, have no spiritual beliefs and list goes on. The difference is I’m mentally stable and have sound morals. Free societies must have boundaries and are goverened by laws based on moral code. This administration said new laws will not stop random acts of violence, but if it can help prevent one then revised laws are needed. What do we need with assualt weapons and greater than 10 round clips? Its evident to me based on the drastic increase in gun and ammo sales after such a tragedy that we have many paranoid individuals living in this country. Your gov’t is not taking your freedom but attempting to protect its people.

Posted by Kell  on  01/18  at  12:58 PM

In response to Dr, Tucker’s comment, what bills is she referring to?  Ones that ban sales of high capacity magazines?  I believe military weapons and ammunition designed for mass casualties in military situations are necessary, but they should not be available for sale to the public.  These weapons and these high capacity magazines and armor piercing bullets are specifically designed to kill the largest number of people possible in the most effective manner. If restricting the sales of these things could prevent possibly one mass shooting, isn’t that enough?  Personally I view this as a right to life issue and a respect for life issue.  I do not believe the framers of America’s constitution felt someone’s right to target shoot with this kind of weapon outweighs public safety issues.  We legislate all kinds of things in the name of public safety, wearing seat belts in cars, limiting sales of antihistamines, sales of grenade launchers, you can’t yell “fire” in a theater, or “bomb” on an airplane etc.  Let’s just be reasonable.

Posted by Chris  on  01/18  at  04:42 PM

The real problem with all these shootings is that mental illness in these kids has not been detected and treated in a timely fashion. Teachers have little training in recognizing the symptoms of mental illness and are preoccupied with maintaining state and federal tests scores.
    Any legal shotgun loaded with just 3 bullets could have killed 45 kids theoretically. If your kid is the one kid that is killed with one bullet, is the number of bullets that can be stuffed into a gun the real issue?

Posted by Average Joe  on  01/22  at  07:42 AM

Random acts of sniper-violence in the 1960’s - 1970’s involved the primary use of “hunting rifles”. Recent year’s shootings always use weapons depicted on video games and movies. The association of these video-depicted weapons as a means to “be a winner in life with a high score” has apparently altered the minds of some of our mentally-ill kids and young adults. Passing laws to prevent future association of this nature thru stricter control of video content would be more effective than another gun control law. If “contol laws” work, why do we still have a drug problem in this country?

Posted by Average Joe  on  01/22  at  01:05 PM

Dr. Tucker is correct when saying there is no easy answer. We only touched the surface when we taped last night. Two or three hours may not have been enough time.
Part of me wants to yell, “Its not the gun, stupid”. And it really isn’t. It is the suspect, offender, whatever you want to call them. Incidents of school violence and mass violence are not new. Not new to the U.S. nor to the world for that matter.
I did a fair amount of research before the show. Common themes, especially concerning the student age suspects in a school shooting, include the suspect falling into at least one of three categories of mental illness.
Psychopath- i.e. Eric Harris, Columbine
Delusionally Insane- i.e. Cho, Va Tech
Suicidally Depressed- i.e. Dylan Klebold, Columbine

Actually Joe, in some cases the symptoms had been detected and in the Cho-Va Tech tragedy Cho had been previously adjudicated as suffering from mental defect. In the case of the Aurora theater shooting the suspect had been detected as suffering from mental defect, however apparently further steps were not taken to mandate treatment as far as I know.

According to the research I have looked at 81% of the suspects in school shootings over the last 20 years or so warned in one way or another of what they were to do. 93% planned the act in advance. I would like to strengthen our message to children, and adults alike, that it is ok to tell someone when you hear something scary. Perhaps some earlier intervention may prevent a horrible event from taking place.
Chris, I agree with you that this is a right to life issue. That does not mean, however, that the prohibition of, or severe restriction of firearms is the answer. Nearly all schools, certainly all around here, are in a firearm free zone. My guess is that most other schools around the country have a similar law. That one has not worked too well has it.
As I said earlier, there are many aspects to look at when talking about school shootings or incidents of mass violence. I believe we have to look at all of the areas across the board in order to properly address the situation

Posted by Michael  on  01/23  at  06:52 PM

Criminal defensive lawyer-criminals don’t give up guns so all you will be doing is banning guns from legal gun owners. The guns will still have to be made for military or do you want them to shoot only six bullets. Police will also be limited.  Australia’s crime rate went up and victim rate on robberies went up including homicides, they had no way to defend themselves…

Posted by Robin Snyder  on  01/24  at  07:53 PM

Enjoyed public square as always,but tonight only 3 guest spoke/ a solution Dr.Muller,Mr.Mitchell & the gentleman that said “THE TRAIN HAVE LEFT THE STATION”.We must start spending time w/from birth to Hi.Sch.with our children(Parenting)Instead Police at school spend that money teaching parents (father-Mother etc) 1 day in each semester,the responsibility for there child by a “Social Worker” many people that bring a child into this world do not have a “Clue"about “Parenting”.Above all our Church & community must help.Thank,to PublicSquare/LPB

Posted by James Guiden  on  01/28  at  09:47 AM

I was given a 22 lever action for my 13th birthday. It will hold, depending on cartridge selected, 15 or more rounds. Is this going to be or being considered one of the types of weapons to be outlawed?

Posted by Steve Long  on  01/28  at  09:50 AM

The doctor on the panel needs to know the facts The sandy hook shooters mother had never worked at the school Credibility goes out the window when you do not have the facts

Posted by mary  on  01/28  at  09:57 AM

Doctors
(A) The number of physicians in the U.S. is 700,000.
(B) Accidental deaths caused by Physicians per year are 120,000.
(C) Accidental deaths per physician is 0.171
Statistics courtesy of U.S. Dept of Health and Human Services.

Now think about this: Guns
(A) The number of gun owners in the U.S. is 80,000,000. (Yes, that’s 80 million)
(B) The number of accidental gun deaths per year, all age groups, is 1,500.
(C) The number of accidental deaths per gun owner is .0000188
Statistics courtesy of FBI

So, statistically, doctors are approximately 9,000 times more dangerous than gun owners.

Posted by Frank D.  on  02/06  at  05:10 PM

If Lanza was intent on his mission what could he have accomplished with a few gallons of gasoline,or even stooped to swords. You have the same result. Heck he could have used fertilizer and diesel. My point is that he would have planned to take as many as he could. Guns do save lives.

Posted by keith w  on  02/19  at  08:26 PM

Mr. Unglesby- Who the hell are you to tell me what I need? I don’t tell you that you need a Mercedes or whatever kind of car that you drive. Your needs could be served by a Ford Pinto. I have shot over 100,000 rounds and never hit anyone. So perhaps a firearm is not just for killing people.

Posted by charles mayeux  on  02/20  at  09:13 AM
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