Ross: How do you figure out when the people you trust are about to snap?

Oct 26, 2023, 8:05 AM | Updated: 2:35 pm

Flight instructor Joseph Bryant works with Chin-ting Chou (L) of Taiwan and Nemanja Nedelikovic of ...

Flight instructor Joseph Bryant works with Chin-ting Chou (L) of Taiwan and Nemanja Nedelikovic of Serbia during a training course on a 737 jet simulator at the Pan Am Flight Academy. {Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)


This week, we heard the story of a pilot who suffered a breakdown and tried to crash a plane, and now a military reservist and firearms instructor is the person of interest in a killing rampage in Maine.

If there’s a message from the cosmos here, it seems to tell us that mental illness can strike even the most trusted people among us. If only there were a way to figure that out before they get their hands on something dangerous.

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We’ve grown up in a world where everybody has access to all kinds of power – generally not airplane cockpits – but we all have access to military weapons, night scopes, drones, cars (which can also be weapons.) Plus, everybody’s phone can now broadcast to the world on unregulated social media platforms. And all of those things in the right hands are great, but in the wrong hands, they can cause all sorts of havoc.

This is why we have standards for certifying pilots and firearms instructors and drivers and broadcasters, or at least the old-school variety of broadcasters.

But how do you figure out when the people you trust are about to snap? When do the right hands become the wrong hands?

You can’t subject everyone to daily drug tests or mental health evaluations, and we are clearly not going to accept any more limits to our freedom, so we have to treat these incidents like wildfires, floods, and hurricanes – where all we can do is prepare and be ready to comfort the victims.

These are things we wish we could control but can’t, and what you can’t control, you can only prepare for.

My generation grew up preparing for nuclear war.

This generation will have to prepare for new kinds of threats, which is why our little granddaughter just went through her first active shooter drill – which was disguised as a game.

Listen to Seattle’s Morning News with Dave Ross and Colleen O’Brien weekday mornings from 5 – 9 a.m. on KIRO Newsradio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.

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