As I write this, I can only begin to imagine the number of people who have jumped to the conclusion that the shooter at the Charleston AME Church was mentally ill. By this time tomorrow, even if the shooter has not been caught, we will hear the pundits debating what kind of disability afflicted the shooter. Undoubtedly there will be more calls for Forced Outpatient Treatment.
There are a few things to keep in mind before we turn Charleston into our reason-to-support-Murphy’s-Law-of-the-day:
- We have no idea who the shooter is at this point, except that he is white and in his twenties or thirties.
- South Carolina has “Assisted” Outpatient Treatment. So even if he was mentally ill, the much ballyhooed program sure as hell didn’t prevent anything here.
- The man had a gun that let him kill a lot of people including a state senator.
- White supremacist activity has been on the rise.
Rest assured that the NRA — which backs the Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act — will blame this on mental illness at the earliest possible press conference. We’re the scapegoat for this kind of thing every time it happens.