Could changes to mental health care and laws have prevented Giffords’ shooting?

Jan 11, 2011

Plenty of scapegoats have emerged from the weekend shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords in Tucson, AZ—extreme political rhetoric, weakened gun laws and most recently issues of mental health. Could a different legal framework or network of mental health services have prevented Jared Loughner from allegedly opening fire with a Glock 19 semi-automatic pistol on the crowd gathered outside a Tucson Safeway? Loughner's classmates reported he was "consistently disruptive in class" at his local community college and "obviously very disturbed." But was his behavior reported to any officials that could have tried to help him and what steps if any, were taken after the college expelled him? How high is the bar for proving someone is a threat to themselves or to others before law enforcement, family or medical professionals are able to provide treatment to a disturbed person?

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