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America: Where It's Easier to Get a Gun Than Good Mental Health Care

Gun violence is up. Access to good mental healthcare is down. What, exactly, are our priorities?

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But even the best mental health treatment in the world won’t prevent some people from just losing it. There are going to be people who want to die. There are going to be people who want to kill. Most of the time  the impulse passes. Whether someone dies before it does  depends largely on the tools at hand.

I once traveled with a handful of young adventurers and a couple of fishermen in an open skiff from southern Belize to Honduras. In the middle of the night, we stopped on a small offshore island for hot drinks. There we were greeted by a wiry black man in his 60s. A deep scar ran across his face, from cheekbone to chin. Another deformed one arm. He was missing digits. He told us that as a young man he had been attacked with a machete.

I was fascinated and horrified by his graphic story, and one thought embedded itself permanently in my mind: It takes a lot of effort to kill someone with a machete. But with a gun, it takes very little.

Valerie Tarico is a psychologist and writer in Seattle, Washington and the founder of Wisdom Commons . She is the author of "Trusting Doubt: A Former Evangelical Looks at Old Beliefs in a New Light" and "Deas and Other Imaginings." Her articles can be found at Awaypoint.Wordpress.com.

 
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