Saturday, February 24, 2018

We All Need Protection

by J.R.Myers, Constitution Party National Executive Committee At-Large Member, Founder & former Alaska CP Chairman, ACP Candidate for AK Governor in 2014, and 2016 Presidential Candidate. 

Deliver Me, O Lord, From the Evil Man - Psalm 140, King James Version
"Deliver me, O LORD, from the evil man: preserve me from the violent man;
Which imagine mischiefs in their heart; continually are they gathered together for war.
They have sharpened their tongues like a serpent; adders' poison is under their lips. Selah.
Keep me, O LORD, from the hands of the wicked; preserve me from the violent man; who have purposed to overthrow my goings.
The proud have hid a snare for me, and cords; they have spread a net by the wayside; they have set gins for me. Selah.
I said unto the LORD, Thou art my God: hear the voice of my supplications, O LORD.
O GOD the Lord, the strength of my salvation, thou hast covered my head in the day of battle.
Grant not, O LORD, the desires of the wicked: further not his wicked device; lest they exalt themselves. Selah.
As for the head of those that compass me about, let the mischief of their own lips cover them.
Let burning coals fall upon them: let them be cast into the fire; into deep pits, that they rise not up again.
Let not an evil speaker be established in the earth: evil shall hunt the violent man to overthrow him.
I know that the LORD will maintain the cause of the afflicted, and the right of the poor.
Surely the righteous shall give thanks unto thy name: the upright shall dwell in thy presence."

We all need protection.  We need protection from those with evil intent in their hearts.  Humans are the ultimate potential weapons.  We need to learn how to proactively protect ourselves with wisdom, resolve and compassion.  We need to equip our caregivers to protect themselves and those in their care.  We need to equip our public servants to protect themselves.  The public needs to be equipped to protect themselves.  We need to equip our teachers to protect themselves and their students.  We need law enforcement to bravely protect and serve our communities.  We need protection from those who seek our harm in any of many ways, whether it be sexual assault, other violent bodily assault, murder, mayhem or ultimately home, school, business or national invasion.  We especially need protection from those who would cynically politicize tragedy to forever strip us of our unalienable rights, such as gun ownership and self-defense.  Remember, that repeatedly throughout history, and even now, millions of disarmed human beings have been killed by their own governments.  We cannot allow the gun control advocates to go unchallenged.  We need to shield ourselves, and go on the offensive against all those who seek our harm, whether it be an individual or organized assault on our Lives, our Liberties and our Properties.

While pondering the situation that we find ourselves in, it occurred to me that the conversation was being confused and confabulated.  There are many motives for and types of violence.  Understanding that may help us to address our reality with greater insight and wisdom.  Violence may be Political, Religious, Terrorist, Gang, Criminal, Passionate/Domestic, Sexual, Bullying/Hazing/Retaliation, Vendetta/Revenge, and/or Mental Illness/Substance Use Disorder induced or related.  The solution to mass violence is not general gun confiscation or new restrictions.  Our responses must be sophisticated and multi-faceted, taking into account multiple variables and individual circumstances.  It cannot be fear based, heavy handed and one dimensional.  We must properly identify the causes, formulate cohesive public and private strategies and tailor targeted responses to specific types of threats.

Behavioral Health is certainly one area of concern widely being discussed these days.  From the opioid epidemic to incidents of mass violence, Behavioral Health could use more attention.  I have experience working in a combination of roles within the human services, mental health and substance abuse fields for over 35 years, including many years as an on-call emergency psychiatric responder.  In late 2008, I had just finished a shift from an emergency room call at Central Peninsula General Hospital in Soldotna, Alaska.  A few hours later, a disgruntled former employee came into the hospital with guns and attacked, ending in two dead, as well as one wounded and several patients and staff traumatized.  Many of my colleagues experienced the terror first hand.  I helped them to debrief afterwards.  This shattered our communities expectation of our hospital as a safe sacred space, a weapon free zone.  How could this have happened?

From my work there, I realized it takes a well coordinated team effort from the public, neighbors, coworkers, classmates, family, medical professionals, law enforcement, the judiciary and local behavioral health to maintain public health and safety and to initiate a successful emergency behavioral health intervention.  The process is generally straightforward.  If you know or see someone that appears to be struggling, do something, don't just ignore it and hope the problem will go away.  Say or do something.  If you feel safe, let the person know that you notice that there is something different, and ask if you can help them to get help.  Let them know you care.  Perhaps they are already working with a professional team, including a mental health professional and are actively addressing their problems.  Otherwise, if the person declines help, or you don't feel safe to approach them, a public welfare check may be requested from law enforcement.  Depending on where you're at, this may involve a call to local law enforcement dispatch, or a call to 911.  This may be done by anyone that is concerned that something is awry with a patient, relative, neighbor, friend, coworker, classmate, student or even a stranger due to mental illness or substance abuse.  Law enforcement will visit the person and ascertain if the situation requires possible medical/psychiatric intervention.  If law enforcement finds cause of likely imminent danger to self or others or grave disability, they will escort the person to a medical or detention facility.  Such a person may generally be held up to 72 hours in a protective mental health hold.  During that time, once a person is medically cleared, a mental health assessment is performed.  If it is determined that there is imminent risk of danger to self or others or grave disability, due to mental illness, the mental health professional will confer with the presiding physician, and if they concur, a judge will be contacted.  If the judge agrees, an order for involuntary commitment is issued, and arrangements are made for secure transport and admission to a secure inpatient psychiatric treatment facility.   Weapons, and other dangerous items may be secured and temporarily or permanently removed from the home environment.  After hospitalization, a discharge/safety/recovery plan is developed to incorporate community supports such as family, neighbors and employers as well as follow up outpatient behavioral health treatment.  This will often include counseling and sometimes psychotropic medication and regular monitoring to include a plan for decompensation/relapse, possibly including re-hospitalization.  Processes for a 72 hour mental health hold and involuntary commitment for treatment are already generally well established in most U.S. jurisdictions, with some variations.  It does indeed take a coordinated community response to make the process work right.

In our earnest search for lasting solutions, we must remain a nation adherent to the rule of law.  We must enforce existing laws before we enact new restrictions.  We must preserve our God given Right to Self-Defense, which is expressed in our Second Amendment: "A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed."  (Ratified December 1791.)  In cases with a question of whether or not there is an Imminent Risk of Danger to Self or Others, this may be accomplished via our Fifth Amendment: "No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb, nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use without just compensation."  (Ratified December, 1791.)

President Trump is right.  Gun Free Zones are invitations to would be attackers.  We must harden soft targets such as schools, churches, malls, etc. with some form of enhanced perimeter and onsite campus/facility security.  This may likely include properly vetted and trained staff, family and community volunteers with concealed carry firearms and other defensive means in all public spaces, including schools.

We must provide better access to enhanced professional training for law enforcement, educators and other public servants and the general public in situational awareness, community resources, response protocols, signs of potential danger, and signs of mental illness decompensation such as interfering psychosis/delusions/command hallucinations or acute substance intoxication.  And for those who are willing, weapons training.  We must more aggressively identify, arrest and deport foreign criminal elements and radicals and tighten immigration and border controls to better protect our citizens and communities.

Ultimately, we need to remember to Trust In God, to trust that God's Providence is still with humanity.  We need to trust our neighbors and to be able to build healthy relationships with others around us.  We Americans need to remain vigilant, and to have each other's backs every day.  We need to more robustly support community based behavioral health.  We must preserve All of our God given Constitutionally Enumerated Rights, while using our God given creativity to develop and employ wise self-defense and public safety strategies.  We do not need to panic, react and attack the Constitution and its defenders.  We need to be thoughtful, resolute and proactive.  Together we can work to find real and innovative solutions to prevent future mass tragedies without sacrificing our liberties.

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