“What a wonder is a gun!
What a versatile invention!
First of all, when you’ve a gun—
Everybody pays attention.”
—Stephen Sondheim, Assassins
Last year I had the opportunity to review Candice Millard’s excellent history of the Garfield assassination, Destiny of the Republic. President Garfield’s killer, Charles J. Guiteau, has generally been characterized as “a disgruntled office-seeker,” but as Millard makes clear, he was barking mad. His own family was terrified of him and had been for years, but it proved impossible to find him any effective mental health care.
Finding a cheap handgun in the nation’s capital, on the other hand, proved very easy. One murdered president later, attention was paid.
That was 131 years ago. Little has changed. Getting effective, affordable mental health care is nearly as difficult for many Americans as it was in Garfield’s time, while guns are more ubiquitous and deadly than ever. Read More