In today’s Philadelphia Inquirer, the newspaper’s editorial board called for smarter gun policy in the wake of a recent shooting at Mercy Fitzgerald Hospital in Delaware County. The editors agree that Lee Silverman—the doctor who subdued the shooter—should be commended, but argued that more people defending themselves with firearms is not a solution to recurring, tragic shootings. “A Delaware County psychiatrist who drew his own gun to stop a patient who fatally shot a caseworker deserves to be called a hero for preventing the tragedy from becoming a massacre,” the board writes. “But the incident isn’t evidence that more people ought to be carrying guns.
“America no longer resembles the Wild West for a good reason: We can’t all be Wyatt Earp. People figured out more than a hundred years ago that guns aren’t an equalizer if your assailant can draw faster or has a more powerful weapon.”
But the authors correctly note that gun policy is not the only factor in need of reform. Richard Plotts—the shooter who killed Theresa Hunt and wounded Silverman—was a psychiatric patient at the hospital and had a history of mental illness. His medication, among other things, may have been a factor in the incident. “Plotts’ mental history also raises the question that he might have been taking a prescribed drug that affected his behavior,” the editors write. They later cite three other recent mass shootings in which the assailants had been taking psychiatric drugs, including anti-depressants.
The issues of mental health support and gun policy are not mutually exclusive, and the Inquirer rightly calls on our government to begin identifying and implementing improvements to both.
Read the full editorial here.