Editorial: Fort Hood shooting shows need for mental health help

Over the years, American doctors have improved how they treat gunshot victims. The survival rate reflects this. For example, in 2007, 84 percent of those shot lived. Three years later, that rose to 86 percent, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported.

Two seemingly small things help. First responders are changing their ways, concentrating on taking the victim quickly to the nearest emergency room rather than trying to treat the victim at the scene.

Hospital staffers also wrap victims in blankets to keep them warm, which allows the blood to coagulate properly.

The nation is improving the aftermath of shooting sprees. Now to work on preventing mass shootings.

The first step is to review the shootings. On Wednesday, Army Specialist Ivan A. Lopez shot and killed three people and wounded 16 other people before committing suicide at Fort Hood, Texas.

Military officials said he had mental problems and while he saw no combat in Iraq, he may have suffered post-traumatic stress.

Mental illness is what he shares in common with Major Nidal Malik Hasan, a psychiatrist who was sentenced to death for killing 13 people and wounding 30 others also at Fort Hood in 2009.

Lopez and Hasan suffered mental illness just like many other men who have gone on shooting sprees in recent years. While Americans rightly debated whether we should place additional restrictions on gun ownership and use, the nation ignored the greater need for a discussion on improving the treatment of mental illness.

To be sure, Lopez received treatment as did other mass killers. Fox News and other media outlets report that he was on a medication. Obviously, the effectiveness of this treatment needs improvement.

More gun control is not the answer as existing gun control has failed to stop such shooting sprees.

What will reduce the killings is better identification and treatment of potential shooters.

We took small steps to improve the odds of surviving a shooting spree. Now to reduce the number of shooting sprees without sacrificing the Second Amendment.

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