There’s nothing like a big ball of flame to show that there is more to stopping mass murder than gun control.
While some people are pulling back and forth on the tug-of-war rope that is trying to tie up guns and bullets in fingerprint-locked safes, can someone please find a way to handle the most dangerous weapon?
Menachem Karelefsky, 41, of McKeesport has been charged with arson and attempted murder. New York police say he set fire to the home of a rabbi in Brooklyn on June 13. The blaze injured 13 people, including a 6-week-old baby and three first responders.
Karelefsky’s arm is tattooed with black letters. “Never let go of the HATRED — KILL Rabbi Max,” it reads in part.
Karelefsky, according to sources including the Times of Israel, has been making threats against Rabbi Jonathan Max for years. He claims the rabbi molested him decades ago. Max denies this, and there are no other public accusations.
That might seem to complicate the matter. It does not.
In Pennsylvania, the grand jury report on the Catholic Church abuse poured out the names of hundreds of credibly accused predators. It provoked anger and demanded vengeance. It hasn’t elicited murder. The pain isn’t the point.
Hatred is hatred, and it is toxic and dangerous whether the source is real, indoctrinated or delusional.
The splashy, attention-grabbing crimes like Karelefsky’s fire or the Tree of Life shooting or any of a dozen other explosions of anger and loathing in recent years show how badly we need the other side of the coin brought up in gun control debates.
Yes, we absolutely need more mental health treatment.
The social climate is steeped in hate and rage. We have a million ways to hurt each other, but the critical components are always the same.
Hatred builds a bomb, pours the gasoline, loads the bullets. Rage presses the detonator, lights the match, pulls the trigger.
You can’t outlaw hatred or prohibit rage and expect them not to get darker and colder and more lethal. We have to treat them like the chronic illnesses they are. We have to give people tools to overcome hatred and manage rage.
And that tool is mental health care. People need access to it. People should be encouraged to use it. People should feel free to talk about it openly and honestly and not make it something shameful and secret.