The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Opinion We must address violent tendencies as though they were an addiction

The Tops Friendly Market on May 16 in Buffalo. (Matt Burkhartt for The Washington Post)
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Regarding the May 17 editorial “Tragedy in Buffalo”:

Apparently, gun ownership and hateful ideology might or might not be normal in some places. What differentiates mass shooters from others who own guns and might believe hateful ideologies is that somehow the idea of committing violence takes hold. There is a transition from anger to violence.

We need a solution that all — right and left, conservative and liberal, young and old, rural and city dweller — can grasp. Such a solution will look to the causes of anger and what pushes angry individuals into committing acts of violence. We truly don’t understand the tipping points, nor do we fully grasp the fine line between anger and violence. The reasons for violence are likely as varied as the violence itself, but we must start by identifying those who might be vulnerable to the disease. Nomenclature is important. We must address anger and violent tendencies as though they were an addiction, with mental health treatment and the hope for a cure.

Too often, individuals fall off the radar. On the road from anger to violence, there typically have been multiple failures along the way — parents, friends, schools, churches or other organizations that should have been alarmed enough to alert authorities. This is an addiction that can and should be cured.

Joseph P. Petito, Bethesda