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From Don Erickson: As a student at Grand Rapids in 1966, I knew David Black, the shooter and the victims. I was present that day right after the shooting occurred. That shooting was caused specifically by the bullying of a student who had fetal a...

From Don Erickson:

As a student at Grand Rapids in 1966, I knew David Black, the shooter and the victims. I was present that day right after the shooting occurred. That shooting was caused specifically by the bullying of a student who had fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD) and was developmentally disabled (DD). The administrator who died approached the gunman to take the gun away. The article written in the Pine Journal, in my opinion, reflected those causal factors. Bullying has been a cause of some of these school shootings and needs to be addressed more than we have done to date. Wendy Johnson's article, in my opinion, indicates that.

Many, if not all, of the mass shootings, have been performed by young males with major mental problems. A disproportionate number of the school shootings have been done people with FASD. See, e.g. Jody Allen Crowe's, "The Fatal Link: The Connection Between School Shooters and the Brain Damage from Prenatal Exposure to Alcohol." Mr. Crowe was in elementary school in Grand Rapids in 1966 and has studied many of the school shooter's backgrounds. Many others, like the Colorado shooter, have psychotic disorders like paranoid schizophrenia .We, as a society, have failed to consider the studies that have been made of school shooters.

I also am a veteran and a Marine. However, unlike Mr. Gustafson, I do not agree that "we as a society have failed." The problem is not that widespread. Such violence is NOT accepted by the great majority of people in every age group. What has changed, in my opinion, is our societal failure to recognize that certain young males who have certain types of mental disorders are more likely to perform these horrific acts if they have access to firearms and assault weapons. We have closed most of our state mental hospitals, believing these individuals should receive treatment in residential or family settings. The young males in this group are the ones on whom we should focus our efforts to provide mental health care AND TO PREVENT THEM FROM ACQUIRING FIREARMS AND ASSAULT WEAPONS. I would call these individuals the "Suspect Group."

The availability of assault weapon IS clearly a factor in the recent mass shootings. Had David Black, the Grand Rapids shooter, had access to a Bushmaster AR 15, or a Glock with a 30 shot clip, he undoubtedly would have preferred to use it to get even with those who bullied him and, in his mind, achieve recognition. I see no need for civilians, anyone other than the police or the military, to possess assault weapons - if only to prevent their access to the young males in the Suspect Group.

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I also see as missing in the current dialogue any mention of the obligation of gun owners to safeguard their weapons to prevent their use by those in the Suspect Group and children. The Newtown massacre could have been easily prevented if the shooter's mother secured her weapons in a gun safe that was inaccessible to the shooter. Instead, it appears she tried to teach "gun safety" to her son. Gun safety lessons are ineffective to prevent the young males in the Suspect Group from shooting others. Guns, in my opinion, should be secured from children and individuals in the Suspect Group who might have access to them. When I had children in my house, all of my rifles and pistols had trigger locks on them. (I understand a trigger lock is a deterrent, not a sure fire preventive measure.)

These are just my opinions. Hopefully they will stimulate rational dialogue and focused efforts to help prevent future incidents.

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