Jonathan Cohn evaluates our mental health system:
After a major disaster, like an airliner crash or terrorist incident, we conduct thorough investigations to determine what caused the tragedy and how we might avoid another one like it. This occasion calls for a similar response. We may never know whether a better mental health care system would have averted this massacre. But we can be sure that it would avert some future ones.
In related commentary, Vaughan Bell says we are often too quick to blame mental illness for violence:
The fact that mental illness is so often used to explain violent acts despite the evidence to the contrary almost certainly flows from how such cases are handled in the media. Numerous studies show that crimes by people with psychiatric problems are over-reported, usually with gross inaccuracies that give a false impression of risk. With this constant misrepresentation, it's not surprising that the public sees mental illness as an easy explanation for heartbreaking events. We haven't yet learned all the details of the tragic shooting in Arizona, but I suspect mental illness will be falsely accused many times over.