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    What to do? Ban assault rifles and treat mental health research just like breast cancer research

    7:39 am by | 3 Comments

    I grew up in Connecticut. It was in a town just like Newtown. It was safe and it was quiet.

    I am a father and a grandfather. My life is surrounded with children.

    This weekend has been tough. You try to read or write something, but the mind wanders. Then you feel sadness. The more you think about the specifics, the sadder it gets. Your heart aches.


    Our nation feels it. I recently read the words ‘collective grief.’ That about sums it up. And this too: we are collectively sorry for those poor souls.

    Now I might make you mad. But it needs to be said, now more than ever.

    On Guns:

    My mom had only two unbreakable rules for us four kids: No guns and no motorcycles.

    Guns scare me. I don’t like seeing them or being near them.

    I only shot a gun once. It was during my short stint in the Boy Scouts. (I didn’t make it long in the Scouts.) I also learned to shoot a bow, but after killing a squirrel once, I felt awful, and stopped that too. Though I personally don’t like hunting, I understand its draw. Okay, many use guns to hunt.

    But handguns and assault rifles? It seems senseless, farcical even, that weapons of human destruction can be acquired so easily. What are we thinking? I’m all for freedom, and understand well the Bill of Rights, but come on? Surely we can be true to our founding fathers and still maintain common sense. This must change.

    On Mental Health:

    It’s not fair, nor right, that those with disorders of the brain are shunned. We should fund and study mental health disorders with the same vigor that we do breast cancer and heart disease. Surely we can all agree on this. How well we care for the poor–who so often are afflicted with mental illness–says a lot about our nation’s soul.

    On Society:

    The word that comes to mind is ‘amplified’. Everything is so amplified. At work, the rules and regulations are amplified. Always more rules—more signs, more emails, more meetings, more lights and more alarms. More.

    Then there is our constant connectedness. This too amplifies. Social media amplifies. So does cable news around the clock. Living so close together in urban centers amplifies. The noise is deafening—in the car, on the roads, in the train or airplane, in the grocery and even at home. No peace. Everywhere there is distraction and noise. These are the facts. Though the young would have trouble imagining life without smartphones and Apple products, us olders can vouch that it was equally happy. Life is just so dang amplified. Always full gas. It makes you wonder, doesn’t it?

    No, I don’t think society is more violent now; in fact, it’s probably less so. And I don’t blame technology for this spate of madness.

    As a contributing factor though, how we humans have come to live is hard to ignore.

    I wonder about the mental effects of all this amplified noise.


    Copyright 2015 MedCity News. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

    John Mandrola, MD

    By John Mandrola, MD

    Dr. Mandrola's post originally appeared on his website. Dr. Mandrola is a cardiologist who specializes in heart rhythm disorders. He writes about doctoring and cycling at and is a regular columnist at
    Visit website | More posts by Author


    Very lame article with 4 paragraphs on guns and only 1 on mental illness.


    On guns:  I should not have to give up the right to possess a firearm just because mentally ill individuals are not getting the care they should be receiving.  I felt secure having my gun when I lived alone and someone tried to break into my home and I got placed on hold when I called the police.  Also,why would someone use guns to teach a mentally ill indivudal responsibility as I am told was the case in the Newtown school shooting.  Take a very close look at that before you try to take firearms away from resonsible individuals.


    On mental illness:  Your statement concerning poor people not getting care really bothers me.  The young man in Newtown was certainly not from a poor family. Furthermore, I know a paranoid-schizophrenic that is not gettting any treatment for her mental illness although she visits the doctor at least twice a month.  On one visit, she had a break-down in the doctor's office, yet, no one has tried to help her.  Even if she is committed, she will be under observation for a short period of time and then released and no one will be around to make sure she takes her medication.


    On society:  I do blame technology for the spate of madness, but I also blame parents.  Can not understand parents allowing their kids to play games on their computers/phones during meal times when that should be reserved for family time.  I also do not condone the violent video games young children, yes, even teenagers, are allowed to play.  I was a working single parent but I fed my daughter home cooked meals and she had boundaries and curfews.  She didn't like it, but I was her parent, not her friend.  My home was also not a revolving door for every guy I dated.  Parents need to get involved with their kids instead of letting technology be their "go-to" babysitters.


    Bottom line:  Even if you banned all firearms, the wrong individuals would find a way to get them!  Let's do more about mental illness and parenting.

    Doctor Barry
    Doctor Barry

    John, I respect your opinion and your right to express it, and now here's mine. Because you hate and fear and don't own firearms, how easy it is for you to call for a ban to deprive others of the right to own them, since you have to give up nothing. 


    From a practical standpoint, bans don't work. They only make otherwise law-abiding citizens into instant criminals, create underground economies, and provide one more product of commerce to be fought over by organized crime. Bans didn't stop alcohol, drugs, prositution, illegal immigration, you name it. They only resulted in more, often violent, crime. It's called the Law of Unintended Consequences. 


    I know the mantra of: "If a gun ban saves only one child's life, it will be worth it." Unfortunately, the reality is that disarming law-abiding citizens will cost many more lives. The data is that firearms are used defensively to protect and save lives anywhere from 65,000 (US DOJ study) to over 400,000 (Kleck) times a year, usually without firing a shot. 


    I'm a physician and retired US Army officer, and I speak from a position of knowledge and experience when I say that more laws and bans don't work. Gun-free zones don't work, they only create death traps for the innocent. I'm not saying that guns are a panacea. They don't make you invulnerable--if so, no soldier or Law Enforcement Officer would ever die. But, in the hands of a trained, competent, and conscientious citizen, they provide security and protection from the worst elements of our society who laugh at your guns laws and bans, and have no hesitation to rob, rape, torture, and murder the innocent. The Second Amendment ain't about hunting.

    Sarah O
    Sarah O

    Dr. John.  Thank you for your thoughtful post.  In our country, we don't have healthcare insurance, we have "physical" healthcare insurance.  Anthem Blue Cross (and the other major insurance providers) doesn't want to fully support mental health issues, and makes little to no attempt to hide it.  Until mental health doctors are readily available to the insured for a $20 co-pay like the internist is, consumers will not get the services they need.  It is nearly impossible to find a psychiatrist who takes insurance, and they tend to be the only MDs who will prescribe "psych" meds.


    We need to make the health insurance companies treat mental issues with the same regard as physical ones.  And we need to work harder as a country to remove the stigma of mental illness so more trouble families feel safe to get help.  Thanks again.