Why I Get Obama's Response to Newtown

A writer whose brother was armed and mentally ill reflects on what moved the president to tears.

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 "The CIA tried to brainwash me," he'd say.

"Why you?" I'd ask.

"They knew I was going to run the world, so they started drugging me."

Our parents had other concerns. When their baby boy wasn't himself, they knew he wasn't safe to be near. They took to hiding the kitchen knives when he was around and sleeping lightly. A few years in, the stress took a toll on our father. He died from a massive heart attack, just six months before he had hoped to retire at age 62.

We all took his sudden death hard. Dariek took it worse, increasingly mixing the drugs he could buy at liquor stores or on the streets with the prescribed ones he bought at the pharmacy.

The voices got worse. The trips to the Veterans Administration office became more frequent. One day he told me he'd had a bad night. The voices were talking to him through his stereo speakers, telling him to go to the mother of his children -- a second-generation welfare dependent with few good habits -- and blow her brains out. He pulled out the .357 Magnum he'd bought from a pawnshop not long before.

"I need to borrow the gun," I said, using my most authoritative big-brother voice.

"Why?" he asked.

"There's a rapist running around in Lincoln Park," I told him. My wife, Joyce, needed it to protect herself.

That made sense to him, so Dariek handed the canon-sized revolver over to me. He never got it back.