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To Stop Mass Shootings, Read The Califano Report

Laurence Jarvik

Posted on August 4, 2019 18:46

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The August 2000 Califano "Report of the United States Postal Service Commission on a Safe and Secure Workplace" is a good example of Washington actually working in a bipartisan manner to solve a serious problem with practical solutions.

Some years ago, I worked for the Postal Service as a temporary secretary. One day, there was a tremendous commotion when a construction worker stabbed a co-worker in the Postmaster-General's office during renovations (the Postmaster was not there at the time).

Very embarrassing, especially since "going postal" had become a cliche following violent acts by disgruntled USPS employees and ex-employees.

So our PR VP sprung into action, calling The Washington Post to explain that this stabbing in the Postmaster-General's office ought not be classified as "going postal," since the parties were contractors rather than postal workers.

Thus the embarrassing story died, avoiding another scandal for the beleaguered institution.

Office gossip soon tipped me to "The Califano Report," published in August 2000 as the Report of the United States Postal Service Commission on a Safe and Secure Workplace. 

It was a truly blue-ribbon bipartisan commission, chaired by Columbia professor Joseph A. Califano, Jr., President Carter's former HEW Secretary, with members like UAW president Douglas A. Fraser, Carnegie Corporation president David A. Hamburg, M.D. his wife, Dr. Beatrix Hamburg (both psychiatrists), Export-Import Bank chair John E. Robson, and Robert Zoellick, who later became president of the World Bank.

The US Postal Service set up an "Employee Assistance Program" after publication of the report, to deal with disturbed and possibly dangerous postal workers before they snapped, which proved quite successful.

By treating postal violence as a mental health problem, the USPS successfully controlled it. 

The Califano Report is a good example of Washington actually working in a bipartisan manner to solve a serious problem with practical solutions.

A similar bipartisan and objectively scientific approach to mass shootings would probably work today, if permitted to realistically address the causes of massacres.

That no such study has been commissioned indicates that some politicians sadly seek to exploit violent tragedies for political advantage, rather than solve the problem.

Expert analysis has been ignored in order to use mass killings to generate support for gun control initiatives which have little hope of solving the problem. Many such attacks have taken place in "gun-free zones," for example.

Notably, Dr. E. Fuller Torrey has advocated bringing back coercive treatment for the mentally ill, since many mass shooters are schizophrenics. He is certainly not alone among experienced psychiatrists, although you would not know it from reading the mainstream media.

Psychiatrists realize that many patients simply cannot respond voluntarily to medication or psychotherapy. For them, there is no alternative but coerced treatment or institutionalization in order to protect them from themselves and society from their propensity towards violence.

In addition, extreme political causes have historically attracted the mentally disturbed. Doestoevsky described the phenomenon of nihilist "mad bombers" in his novel, The Possessed (also known as The Devils). 

It is truly madness to pretend such massacres are not obviously acts of the mentally ill.

Who really believes a sane person could target innocent schoolchildren, churchgoers, nightclubbers, or Wal-Mart shoppers for mass-murder? 

Not me.

 

Laurence Jarvik

Posted on August 4, 2019 18:46

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Just the Bears' luck. They're 0-3 and beat up on defense, and now they get to face the Lions and their red-hot receiver....

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