GUEST VIEW: Diagnosis: Dereliction of duty is the disease

By Elizabeth Lee Vliet, M.D.

Most Americans have at some time been a patient needing medical care. How did you get the right help for what ailed you? Your doctor had to evaluate you and identify the problem, or diagnosis, needing treatment before the correct treatment could be prescribed.

Physicians cannot treat you effectively if they do not first establish the correct diagnosis. Physicians “ready” themselves to treat by going through a systematic process of evaluating the patient, and only then are able to “aim” treatment at the proper “target, then they “fire” a prescription to help the patient. We have a duty to go through this process in the right sequence — it is not ethical for physicians just “fire” off a treatment without aiming our treatment at the right target.

But that reverse course — Fire, Aim, Ready — is exactly what the mainstream media, politicians, law enforcement officials and liberals are doing in the debate over “Gun Control” following the Parkland, Florida, shooting. One “treatment” — restrict gun rights (i.e. self-defense rights) — is recommended for everyone across the country, whether or not it actually addresses the correct “disease” that led to Nicholas Cruz’s horrific killing spree. There has been little effort to evaluate what led to this young man’s slaughter of his high school peers, or to even consider other “treatments.”

Instead, the knee-jerk response to the Parkland shooting has been exactly like the reactions to other killings by mentally disturbed persons at Virginia Tech, Tucson Safeway, Ft. Hood, the Orlando nightclub, San Bernadino and most recently Central Michigan University campus: ban “assault” weapons, confiscate guns from law-abiding citizens, vilify the NRA and/or revoke the Second Amendment.

Physicians have a legal and ethical duty to carry out a proper diagnostic evaluation of their patients, and only then recommend treatment. Why don’t we apply similar standards to evaluating the problem of violence and killing in our society?

Many contributing factors beg to be discussed — many originating in the “progressive” social policies of the past 40-50 years:

  • The breakdown of our traditional values and the removal of God from the public arena.
  • The breakdown of the family, and the marked increase in children growing up without fathers in the home.
  • Loss of respect for human life with the dramatic increase in abortion on demand.
  • The constant exposure to violence in games, TV, movies and social media from early childhood on.
  • Closing state mental facilities and putting mentally ill out on the streets without adequate treatment resources or support systems.
  • 10-minute “med-check” psychiatry visits and overuse of psychoactive medicines without adequate time for evaluation or development of non-pharmacologic therapies.
  • Emphasis on “political correctness” by public officials, including school boards, and then failing to report seriously disturbed students for proper mental health treatment — or failure to charge them when indicated with criminal violations (the latter allowed Cruz to pass a background check.)
  • Dereliction of duty by law enforcement officials — local, state and federal, including the FBI — in failing to act on reputable tips and their own encounters with seriously troubled individuals.

“Gun control” is the wrong prescription for such societal problems. It will not prevent criminals or disturbed persons from obtaining lethal weapons. “Gun free zones” have already been proven to fail.

If physicians practiced medicine with such “shotgun” (pun intended) approaches to medical problems, medicine would indeed be as guilty of doing harm and causing death as we see in these shooting events. Physicians could be sued or lose their license to practice.

We physicians also have a legal duty to report individuals whom we assess as potentially dangerous to themselves (suicidal) or others (homicidal). A physician who failed to report someone like Cruz, who then committed a mass shooting, would be subjected to severe, even criminal, penalties.

Why have law enforcement officials in Broward County, Tucson/Pima County, Blacksburg, Orlando, San Bernadino, Central Michigan and the FBI NOT been held accountable for their dereliction of duty in their failure to act on many tips and actual encounters that should have been a clear warning of imminent danger?

Had any one of these law enforcement entities done their job, as mandated in states across the country, many lives could have been saved. Why are we ignoring this aspect of every one of these mass shootings?

Why do we keep harping on the wrong “diagnosis” of the inanimate GUN, and push for “gun control” rather than proper treatment of the person who pulls the trigger?

Why do we fail to provide the same armed security for our vulnerable schools that is provided in most hospital emergency rooms or government buildings?

The Democrats one-size-fits-all solution — more government control with more restrictions of citizens’ rights — is the same for every diagnosis, whether the problem is with banking, medical care or violent behavior. Yet the “disease” originates in government interference, over-regulation, incompetence or corruption. Government control is the problem, not the solution.

Americans need to wake up and see that liberal progressive government elites are seeking power, not solutions to problems. For all their phony tears, liberal activists see suffering of the victims as an opportunity to advance their agenda for more control of our lives.

If they genuinely cared about treating the underlying “disease” – i.e. solving the real problem — they’d be calling for investigations and sanctions of negligent, incompetent law enforcement and public officials, rather than infringement of the Second Amendment rights of responsible, law-abiding citizens.