Last week as I was finishing my column about our exciting vacation to the Hawaiian Island of Oahu and Pearl Harbor in particular, a mentally ill Navy veteran and former civilian employee at the Naval Yard in Washington, D.C., went on a senseless killing spree. I immediately focused my attention on what I felt was a serious breach in security at American military institutions. A mere 48 hours prior to the "incident" at the Naval Yard, seven of our vacationing party was allowed on the Pearl Harbor Naval Base without even having to show a driver’s license. The only thing necessary was the flashing of a Civilian Naval Contractor’s ID card and our van was whisked through the gate unsearched. Like many Americans, I instantly labeled the Washington, D.C., Naval Yard incident as a terroristic attack contributed to yet another lapse in security.
After reading last week’s column, a friend of mine from Kansas City pointed out the important issues in the story; issues I totally overlooked. True, I wrote this moments after the shootings occurred, so I was only working with a small bit of information and a whole lot of misinformation. Sometime later as the story played out, Cathy, a very dedicated fan of “Wick’s World” commented on the tendency to place the blame on a lack of security at our military installations. I called my friend, the civilian naval worker, whose pass got us into Pearl Harbor Naval Base, and asked if there had been any changes in security since the shootings.
“Nope, the military didn’t consider it at all,” he stated.
Neither did Cathy, a social worker who has run a suicide hotline for over 30 years and has a lifetime of experience dealing with the mentally ill. I am going to allow her to relate her reply to my readers in her own words.
“P.S. Wick, liked your article as always! The thing that strikes me about the shootings on the Naval base is that if it hadn't happened there, it would have happened at the local super market, school or anywhere that guy happened to be. The Naval base was just a happenstance. Don't you think? But the main thing is there were so very many red flags for mental health problems with him over and over again starting with the voices — which he kept telling people about. That does not get better, unless treated properly. He was paranoid, he was hallucinating, delusional, and feeling persecuted ... a time bomb, WITH THE GUN. The Naval base part was sad, but it would have occurred anyhow. We have thousands of people walking around psychotic, and we don't need to take their rights away, there is nothing wrong or dangerous about 'being crazy' on the street, but when they have a gun, that's a different story. Damn these guns. It changes the game, that's for sure.”
Whether you are an NRA advocate or believe we should have stricter gun laws, Cathy hit the mark with her closing sentence; “It changes the game, that’s for sure.”
The perpetrator shot up his own house. This guy left warning signs all over the place and when he asked for help, he was simply turned away. This is a mental health issue. If we as a country continue to treat this as simply a "more guns vs. less guns issue" we can expect the results to be more of the same.