Friday, December 14, 2012

Fewer semi-automatics, more mental health care

My daughter’s school is about 20 minutes away from Sandy Hook Elementary. When I arrived at school midday (I volunteer in the library), there were two cop cars outside. Despite them, I had no problem walking into the building that houses the library -- no checking in anywhere, no locked doors. Sent a chill down my spine.

At the time I arrived, I had no idea that an entire classroom of kindergartners, as well as several teachers and administrators, had been mowed down just a few miles away. I only learned that shortly before I left the library.

Many of the teachers who work in our district live and have kids who go to school in Newtown. I cannot imagine the fear they felt.

I heard that Obama brushed away tears as he talked about the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary. I also read that he said now was not the time to talk about gun control, or words to that affect. But if not now, when?

How many innocent people -- too often children -- have to die before politicians take a stand against the NRA and pass tougher gun and ammo control measures? I'm not saying the government should strike down the Second Amendment (though I would not object). But it's time to put a ban on semi-automatic weapons (the weapon of choice for mentally deranged killers), limit the amount of ammunition one can purchase, and institute strenuous background checks. Yes, that won't solve the problem. But it's a start.

And while the pols are at it, how about making it less expensive for Americans to get mental health care? Maybe if we made it easier to get mental health care and more difficult to buy guns and ammo, we could avoid another tragedy like the one that took place today... and the one in Aurora... and the one in Tucson... and the one at Virginia Tech... and the one at Columbine.

More about the Sandy Hook Elementary School tragedy here.

UPDATED 12/15/12: More food for thought: "Twelve facts about guns and mass shootings in the United States" by Ezra Klein of The Washington Post (via I found these two paragraphs particularly telling and tragic:
If roads were collapsing all across the United States, killing dozens of drivers, we would surely see that as a moment to talk about what we could do to keep roads from collapsing. If terrorists were detonating bombs in port after port, you can be sure Congress would be working to upgrade the nation’s security measures. If a plague was ripping through communities, public-health officials would be working feverishly to contain it.

Only with gun violence do we respond to repeated tragedies by saying that mourning is acceptable but discussing how to prevent more tragedies is not. “Too soon,” howl supporters of loose gun laws. But as others have observed, talking about how to stop mass shootings in the aftermath of a string of mass shootings isn’t “too soon.” It’s much too late.


Anonymous said...

My heart is Broken.

I understand the purpose of the 2nd Amend, but, this is one area that the Founding Fathers' words do not stretch into the modern age. (in my opinion)

Betty Cracker said...

Rachel Maddow reviewed some interesting statistics last night. As it turns out, when NRA members are polled, even they support common-sense gun laws, like closing the gun show loophole, doing stringent background checks and banning people from the terrorist watch list from purchasing guns. (It's a measure of how insanely powerful the NRA is that this is even an issue.)

Maddow suggested we just start with the legislation NRA members support. I agree. Not only does it put painfully obvious public safety measures into practice, it exposes a chink in the NRA's armor. Because the NRA doesn't really represent the interests of sportsmen. It represents the interests of gun manufacturers and a small group of hardcore fanatics. The only way to loosen its grip is to make that fact more widely known.

J. said...

@Betty, I agree that is a good place to start. But we also have to ban automatic weapons. (Don't know if you clicked the link under "ban semi-automatic weapons," but it takes you to a short article in Slate about how speed kills so many more people.) And we need to make it easier and less expensive for mentally ill people to get therapy instead of guns. It's crazy that you can walk into a gun show and buy whatever you want, but you have to have expensive insurance and wait for days or weeks to see a doctor to get help for what really ails you -- and most insurance doesn't cover mental health care.