Opinion Outpost: Oct. 13

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The Opinion Outpost features opinions and commentary on the latest hot topics from national news sources. As much as you love hearing from The Universe, we thought you might like to hear from journalists around the nation.

Oregon shooting

With nine more innocent people dead at the hands of another deranged gunman, this time at a community college in Oregon, it’s easy to be angered and demoralized by Congress’ failure to do anything to curb the carnage.

… Gun rights advocates can always point to some flaw in whatever sensible measure is debated or passed, or argue that it would not have stopped some particular gunman from some particular mass killing. But just because you can’t prevent every mass shooting doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try to stop any of them. A majority of Americans and a handful of states are on the right track. If more would follow, fewer communities would be added to the roster of sorrow that includes Columbine, Newtown, Aurora and now Roseburg

— Editorial Board

USA Today

The White House is calling for “common sense” gun control, which is insane, given that the criminally minded don’t obey the law.

Every public mass shooting since 1950, except for two, has occurred in a gun-free zone. This shooting is no different.

The Umpqua Community College is a gun-free zone, as are the locations of many recent shootings: the Lafayette, La., theater; the Charleston, S.C., church; the military recruiting center in Tennessee.

… Albert Einstein defined “insanity” as doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results. Clearly, the call for more gun control is insane — it doesn’t work.

— Eric Pratt

USA Today

It is time to rebuild America’s mental health care system, and to build it stronger than ever. As I have said before on this site, the current system is shattered, on its knees and a profound national embarrassment.

The recent mass shooting in Oregon might well have been prevented if the mental health care system were appropriately robust and paid special attention to those at risk for violence.

… Just as promising, a reliable mental health care system could offer real hope to the many millions of Americans currently untreated, under-treated or incompetently treated, saving thousands more deaths from suicide and many billions of dollars each year in lost productivity.

— Dr. Keith Ablow

Fox News

Most Americans are appalled by the regularity with which these gruesome incidents occur.

Generally, there are three remedies proposed to deal with this terrible phenomenon. The National Rifle Assn. insists the answer is to put more guns in the hands of teachers, students, ministers — pretty much everyone — so they can fight back when an attack happens. Liberals argue for tougher gun laws to make it harder for men with twisted minds to obtain weapons. And people across the political spectrum say there should be a better system to deal with the mentally ill. Each of these ideas has serious limitations.

… It is a terrible quandary with no obvious solution. No wonder some people — even presidential candidates — just shrug and say, “Stuff happens.”

— David Horsey

L.A. Times

Prison reform

The American criminal justice system is predicated on … the ideal that an individual who has committed a crime should pay his or her debt to society and then go back to work as a productive member of society.

But far too often, formerly incarcerated people with the greatest abilities and the loftiest ambitions discover that the physical barriers that confined them in prison have been replaced by subtle, but devastating barriers in the world outside that prevent them from finding work.

… Fortunately, private sector businesses, along with state and local governments, are stepping up to help right this wrong. Companies like Starbucks, Home Depot, Wal-Mart, Target and Bed, Bath and Beyond, along with 18 states and more than 100 cities and counties, have made the decision to reform their hiring processes to give people with records a fairer shot to make a better life.

The story of America is a story of redemption. Foundational to our democratic experiment is the ideal that as individuals – and as a country – we have the opportunity and the power to recognize the ways in which we have failed ourselves, and each other, and work towards something better.

— Corey Booker

CNN

Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch recently convened an expert panel to explore developmentally appropriate responses to young adults caught up in the justice system. “Research indicates that . . . we may have a significant opportunity, even after the teenage years, to exert a positive influence and reduce future criminality through appropriate interventions,” she said. This “offers a chance to consider new and innovative ways to augment our criminal justice approach.”

Given advances in research and successful innovation here and abroad, now is the time for practice to catch up with science — whether it is raising the family court’s age to 21 or 25 or otherwise creating a separate approach to young adults that reflects their developmental needs and furthers public safety.

— Vincent Schiraldi and Bruce Western

The Washington Post

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