Yesterday, one student was killed and three more wounded at a horrifying mass shooting in Spokane, Washington. Now that the details have been revealed, the story of Caleb Sharpe represents a perfect example of how our failure to provide widespread mental health services and the reckless proliferation of firearms to an appallingly irresponsible civilian population leads to mass killings.
A police report indicates that Sharpe, fifteen years old, had suicidal thoughts and brought guns to school to teach everyone a “lesson about bullying:”
— Melissa Luck ☘ (@MelissaKXLY4) September 14, 2017
The police made a point of noting that the boy had been taught how to shoot by his parents and was bought guns by his parents. Sharpe admitted he was also proficient at building bombs and was constructing them in his basement.
But most importantly, a search of his social media profiles reveals anti-feminist memes, marking the trifecta of mass shooters – untreated mental health issues, resentment or hatred towards women, and easy access to dangerous firearms.
The student he killed, Sam Strahan, reportedly mocked him for revealing his firearms at school, saying “I always knew you were going to shoot up the school.” The rest of his victims were girls – Emma Nees, Jordyn Goldsmith and Gracie Jensen, though apparently he wasn’t targeting anyone and simply fired into a crowd.
We don’t know how the school counselors and his family were dealing with his depression and suicidal intentions – but the fact that he had access to firearms after revealing his urges to self-harm is a shocking show of irresponsible neglect by his family.
The United States is the only nation in the world that sits idly by as her citizens slaughter each other en mass. But if it’s too late to deal with the reckless distribution of firearms to a civilian populace, the least we can do is ensure that everyone has access to free mental health services – another powerful argument for Senator Bernie Sanders’ Medicare-for-all single-payer healthcare bill.
Colin Taylor is the editor-in-chief of Occupy Democrats. He graduated from Bennington College with a Bachelor's degree in history and political science. He now focuses on advancing the cause of social justice and equality in America.