Some thoughts in the wake of the shooting

A smattering of thoughts in the wake of the Newtown shooting.

First, 2 pieces that speak my mind on the matter

We can’t prevent spree shootings, we need to look instead at gun violence in general.

We need to regulate guns as seriously as we regulate cars, do we have the courage?

The sadness upon hearing the news of this shooting was visceral. It’s been a long time since I’ve had that punched in the gut feeling. I continue to shed tears any time I allow myself to dwell on it for longer than a fleeting thought.

The conversations about guns and mental health care in America need to happen but I’m not sure I’m prepared to hear what some people have to say. Here are my reactions to some of the things I’ve heard so far (in no particular order):

  • The notion of arming teachers is so preposterous it would be laughable if it weren’t so sad.
  • When we have conversations about people being allowed to “protect themselves”, why don’t we explore non-lethal options?
  • In the “right to bear arms” argument, it’s rarely pointed out that the military guns of the 1700s are hardly comparable to the guns available today. Also, why does “arms” automatically have to mean “guns” anyway?
  • Mental illness does not equal violence. However, there ARE mental illnesses that, under the right circumstances, can lead to violence so I believe that conversation needs to happen. Have you ever tried to get mental health services in America? It’s very difficult unless you’re very wealthy. Those with the greatest need should be seeing multiple mental health professionals multiple times a week for therapy and medication management…not to mention that their families also require services. These types of services are not covered even by many private insurance plans which would mean they’d have to pay out hundreds of dollars a week in therapy and thousands of dollars a month in medications. The mental health services accessible through medicaid are often not sufficient and you have to be “poor enough” to qualify for them. There are entire populations of people in the US for whom prison is the only option – this is unacceptable.
  • Suggesting that things would be better if God was “allowed in our society” is basically saying that people cannot be moral, ethical or “good” without belief in a deity. This is not only absurd but offensive. Mass shootings do not happen because kids aren’t forced to pray in schools. For pete’s sake, show some common sense.

And finally, a comment I wrote on my cousin’s facebook page in response to this image and this comments that followed.

Those who believe in maintaining the right to bare arms (2nd amendment rights) are not doing so to protect their family as much as to protect our rights against dictators (Obama want-a-be).

If you think you need THAT to protect your family from whatever perceived threats you think exist in North Dakota (where my cousin lives), I’m concerned about your mental health. I lived in the ghetto of Hollywood for 3 years. My employer had to hit the floor during drive-by shootings 3 times during her career with social services in Los Angeles. Do you SERIOUSLY think we would have been protected by ANY kind of gun in those situations? If this is about personal protection, then let’s discuss all our options – one of which should NOT be arming the populate with semi-automatics. If this is about our “constitutional right to guns”, then you’re completely daft – the constitution does not OWE you anything. It certainly doesn’t owe you the right to whatever gun you want without regulation.

Gun control = dictatorship? These kinds of hyperbolic fallacies only serve to eschew the real issues. If we want to have a discussion about the protection mechanisms used for the President of our country, then we should do that. But saying “because the president has highly skilled, screened, background checked and psych evalled secret service personnel protecting him with high powered weapons I should be allowed to have an assault rifle and don’t even talk to me about regulations or I’ll call the President a dictator” is the height of absurdity. Come on! It’s this kind of ridiculousness that continues to get us NO WHERE in the societal dialogue of reasonable gun regulations.

It doesn’t need to be all or nothing. We need to have a responsible dialogue about guns in this country. The level and ease of access and inconsistent regulations regarding use and abuse is embarrassing and it’s well past time America own up to it. The reality is that guns do more to harm than they do to protect and spouting fallacies and hyperbole and rhetoric isn’t going to change that nor is it going to get us any closer to a more peaceful, reasoned society.

It seems people have more guns than they do common sense in America and the victims continue to be the innocent.