The Borderline

the borderline
the borderline

I got the horrifying news of the shooting at Borderline Bar & Grill in Thousand Oaks at 4am on Thursday morning. I have family members that go to that bar and live in nearby neighborhoods. I’m infuriated that this tragedy occurred so close to home, but even more outraged that it happened at all.

I’m so SICK of this! There are 11 innocent people dead and we keep pointing figures at the WRONG ISSUES.

Want to know what the solution to this national crisis is??

Spoiler alert: IT ISN’T GUN CONTROL.

I don’t want to talk about gun control. This is not a gun control issue. This isn’t even a partisan issue. This is about mental health.

I know people will be quick to question if this asshole who opened fire in the Borderline Bar is insane. Of course he is insane. No one who kills 11 innocent people is sane. The act itself is insanity. This event was an expression of a mental health issue… and it could have been prevented.

Did you know that the shooter had a health and wellness check in April 2018 after his mother called the police because she was afraid he would hurt someone? Yep — The mother of a 28 year old war hero called the cops after years of witnessing his PTSD and mental health challenges. Do have any idea what it must have taken for her to get to that point?? You know there’s danger lurking when a mother calls the police on her own son.

And to make matters worse, this isn’t even a unique story! The same thing happened in 2014 when a 22 year old killed six people and injured 14 others in Santa Barbara. His parents called the cops SIX TIMES within an 18 month period before this tragedy. Each time he was assessed by mental health professionals and deemed mentally stable, released back into society, and subsequently slaughtered innocent people. This was four years ago and no progress has been made.

This issue isn’t gun control. The issue is the assessment tool used by mental health professionals in this country. I’ve worked in a psychiatric hospital for nine years and I can confidently say that the tool is a piece of shit and there’s nothing we can do about it. All mental health professionals and law enforcement officers say the same thing. But our hands are tied. We are unable to hold dangerous people against their will.

Let me give you a little history lesson so this makes better sense. Families who were concerned about the mental health of their loved ones used to be able to admit dangerous people into institutions where they could receive treatment… But after inaccurate depictions of psychiatric treatment were perpetuated in the media in the 1970s (specifically the depiction of electroshock therapy in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest) the Reagan administration used the public’s negative perception of mental health treatment to cut budgets and defund psychiatric hospitals.

Now that budgets have been cut, treatment facilities are scarce, and mental health issues have been handed over the justice department and the ACLU, the most that can be done is a 72-hour hold and a laughable assessment that asks basic questions like Who is the president of the United States? What day is it? Do you know what year it is?

Needless to say, this is not how we should be dealing with people who are violent and have issues like PTSD and schizophrenia. Even the most psychotic people can work their way around this grossly inadequate assessment and, as a result, they go out and shoot a bunch of kids and then we stand around calling for gun control. No, mental health control.

We have no mental health control.

I have no doubt that the shooter at the Borderline was a threat to himself and others when his mother called the police in April. I guarantee that if he had gotten proper treatment and medication he wouldn’t have done what he did Wednesday night, but our bullshit assessment system found him to be mentally stable.

I know how this sort of inaccurate assessment happens — I’ve seen it myself. When these chickenshit murderers are in the room with me, police officers, or mental health professionals, they bow down like children. It’s when they walk into a bar where college kids are line-dancing that they get their courage.

So what to do? Here’s an idea: Let’s fix the assessment tool so it actually makes sense! The ACLU has to listen to reason. We need a complex, comprehensive approach to these situations in our country and we need to put people on holds when they are a threat to themselves and society.

That is what we need to focus on. Not gun control, not human rights, not tweets about thoughts and prayers , but a better system to properly assess the mentally ill so they can get the help they need. Our assessment tool must consider social media and the concerns of family members, and it must also place the authority in the hands of mental health professionals who are trained to assess the potential for violence.

The implementation of a new system designed to help people who don’t want to be helped is long overdue. It’s time for the government, justice department, and ACLU to have an intelligent, bipartisan conversation about how can we better serve the mentally ill people in our country and stop the mass killings of innocent people. Until then, we will keep waking up to tragic stories on the news, scratching our heads, and wondering why this shit keeps happening.

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