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As others see it: Who'll pay for counseling?

The idea that we can somehow head off gun violence in public places by flooding public places with more guns, as some are advocating in the wake of the school shooting tragedy in Newtown, Conn., continues to be a baffler: Wouldn't more guns increase the likelihood of more guns going off and more bullets hitting people?

A better strategy, as U.S. Sen. Al Franken touted last week in Duluth, is to flood public places like schools with more counselors and mental-health professionals, rather than with more guns. The earlier mental-health issues can be addressed, the less likely they can result in violent behavior, Franken said after meeting with Minnesota school officials, according to reporting yesterday by the News Tribune's John Lundy.

Minnesota lags in its numbers of counselors and mental-health professionals, however. Our high schools have only one mental-health counselor for every 780 students, ranking us an embarrassing 48th in the country.

Franken's solution, via bipartisan legislation he announced, would invest in treatment rather than in incarceration for people who are mentally ill. Though he didn't discuss dollar figures or how, exactly, taxpayers would be asked to cover the cost of increased mental-health care, Franken's approach perked with promise.

Certainly more promise than adding firepower to already volatile situations and then expecting peaceful resolutions as a result.

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