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Letter: Harsh policies justified if they save lives

Once again an individual who should've been spending his days on the back ward of a psychiatric hospital has decided to liven up his day by walking into the local Waffle House and murdering four people. He was less successful than most of the savages who in an effort to get their picture in the paper, figure killing people is a sure fire way to accomplish their aim. This particular nut was less successful because one brave soul refused to be a target and disarmed the murderer before he could kill anyone else.

It's always interesting to me that most of these creeps never bear any resemblance to Charles Manson , but rather a church choir boy, and better yet like many of the participants in the "March For Our Lives." In other words, like the average American kid.

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But they aren't like the average American kid. Indeed, to be blunt — they are crazy people. As a person who worked with the mentally ill for nearly half a century, I'm entitled to use that term. Most of these people are not dangerous — but some are and it's to them we must give our attention, not to the guns they possess.The idea we can stop the killings by collecting all the guns is as crazy as some of the delusions and hallucinations harbored by these dangerously ill people.

We've always had mass murderers in our midst — but not in epidemic numbers as now. In 1948, a man named Howard Unruh shot up his neighborhood in New Jersey, killling 13 people. It didn't take long to declare him legally insane with a diagnosis of paranoid schizophrenia and lock him away for 60 years, until he died at age 88. True, like today, warning signs were given by Unruh and ignored like today. Still, 1948 was different. Very few murderous people slipped through the cracks. I remember talking to one psychiatrist at a state hospital in the early 1950s. He referenced one young man whom he saw as particularly dangerous: "As long as I am here he will never get out. He is a little murderer."

To the best of my knowledge, that "little murderer" never left that back ward. Harsh? Maybe, but harsh policies are justified if they save lives.

Don Haines

Woodbine

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