In Gun Debate, Physicians Edge Closer to Front Lines
In an interview, he also raises soul-searching questions about this country's mental health programs, which he says are overburdened, underfunded and inadequate.
"I do think physicians are educated about the public health issues about guns and gun safety, so we could always do more, and this will probably spur us to do more," Lazarus tells me. "This issue has been a policy of the AMA for a long time about educating physicians about gun safety."
As for as the mental health system, "we presume we have sufficient ability to evaluate people, but where do we put them?" Lazarus says. "It raises the issue of a mental health system that is underfunded, and overburdened. Basically, these people are put in jails and prisons, and we don't have a lot of hospital beds. It raises a lot of issues along those lines."
Whether there were opportunities to stop Adam Lanza before he allegedly carried out his rampage will always be an unknown. Lanza, 20, is believed to have shot his mother four times in her bed, and then gunned down 26 other people, including 6 adults, in the killing spree at Sandy Hook Elementary School.
As far as his condition, there is media speculation, but no confirmation, that Lanza had Asperger's syndrome—which is not a mental health issue.
Referring to mass killings in America, Lazarus says that "more than half of those [killers] had [acknowledged] mental illness and a significant number did not." But mass murders by shooting aren't the only problem facing America related to violence, he says.
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