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Keep guns away from homes of mentally ill

Nikolas Cruz was purposeful and well armed when he killed 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Here is a detailed look into the timeline of the massacre. (Published on Feb 16, 2018)

I cannot imagine the grief suffered by families who lost children to school shooters. Michele Gay’s heartbreaking story about the Sandy Hook horror and the recent one in Florida have one thing in common, yet no one dares mention it. Namely, guns in the home of a troubled individual (“‘It takes you right back’: Maryland native, mother of Sandy Hook victim reflects on Florida school shooting,” Feb. 19).

Two school shooters, Adam Lanza and now Nikolas Cruz, are perfect examples of “letting sleeping dogs lie,” until they become monsters. In fact, The Sun Sentinel, a sister Tronc, Inc. newspaper to The Baltimore Sun, had an interview with the people who provided the Florida gunman with a place to live. They state: “We had this monster living under our roof and we didn't know.” Well, it’s time folks start paying attention to mental illness, and not just to guns.

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I’ve had considerable experience with mentally ill individuals and too often they’re seen as “going through a phase,” or slow to adjust. That is not true. The plague of homelessness is the direct result of mainstreaming those suffering with neuroses, sending them out into out into our communities hoping for the best. Kindness kills, and so do psychotics whose symptoms are ignored by compassionate, well-meaning caregivers.

Kimberly and James Snead, the family that provided Nikolas Cruz with a home after his parents died, recognized he had problems. Nevertheless, the allowed this future school shooter access of weapons, believing that if he had a locking gun safe in his room everything would be fine. Apparently, “Cruz had a handful of guns, including the AR-15 and two other rifles that Snead said would be considered assault rifles. Cruz, a hunter, also had knives, BB guns and pellet guns.” Those are hardly the accessories any mentally ill individual should possess.

In our rush to appear non-judgmental and sympathetic, we overlook reality. It’s time to rethink the dangers of mental illness and make sure their possessions and actions are monitored. It is irresponsible to allow guns in a home where a disturbed or mentally ill person resides. I consider Kimberly and James Snead, Nik Cruz’ caretakers, complicit in the Florida shooting. And I judge the late Nancy Lanza with equal harshness.

Rosalind Heid, Baltimore

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