On Thursday, I taught a course on prevention of targeted school shootings. On Friday, children and adults were killed in Connecticut. As I am sure many of us do, I feel deflated. My emotions are right at the surface. I couldn’t find anything to write. But then jocaasbe and his wife wrote the following. I am copying it here.
“What can be said about today’s tragedy? Murdered children, tormented, bewildered, and numbed Moms and Dads, sad siblings and friends. That’s where our concerns should be focused, but to listen to the media and politicians the guns made this all happen not the evil man who perpetrated this heinous act.
“There must have been signs of the sickness in this guy. Why was this not addressed before it got to this point? Why are the media and politicians not asking these questions instead of, ‘where did this he get his guns?’
“The world is upside down. Common sense and goodness seem to be gone. Instead of turning this tragedy into a political movement to take away our 2nd Amendment rights, maybe our politicians should focus on healing the sickness and not just putting a band aid over the cut. You can always see the blood through the bandage.
“I pray for those families that are feeling unimaginable pain tonight. May they find peace and God in this tragedy.
“Tell your kids and loved ones that you love them. Hug and kiss them tonight……….and every night.”
As jocaasbe’s wife notes:
“While a mentally ill man was shooting kids in Newtown, CT another was slashing kids with a knife in China. Guns, knives…evil people will use anything for a weapon, so maybe instead of waging war on guns, we wage war on mental illness? ”
We, as humans, can find lots of ways to kill each other.
As noted by Ezra Klein of the Washington Post (Minneapolis Star Tribune, 12/16/12), more guns “don’t necessarily mean “lots of shootings”. He quotes David Lamp of the Cato Institute as saying that in Israel and Switzerland a license to possess guns is available on demand for law-abiding adults and guns are very readily available. Lamp states that “Both countries also allow widespread carrying of concealed firearms, and, yet, admits Dr. Arthur Kellerman, one of the foremost advocates of gun control, Switzerland and Israel ‘have rates of homicide that are low despite rates of home firearm ownership that are at least as high as those in the United States’.” (Apparently, both Israel and Switzerland have more recently tightened gun control laws).
We need to focus on mental health and not guns. The decision was made in the 1970’s to finalize plans to close mental hospitals and turn people toward community mental health. But there is very little of that. Resources didn’t appear and people either became homeless or just couldn’t get mental health services. Whatever the diagnosis of the man who killed all those kids and adults, he clearly didn’t receive resources. By no means does this excuse his actions. But we need to step up and look at how we, as a nation, address mental health issues.
And may the families of those murdered find the strength to carry on. May God bless you all.