We need to treat mental health issues as aggressively as we treat other physical ailments. It is long past time we hid mental diseases behind a wall of secrecy and shame. If we can see alcoholism as an illness, we should do the same, and provide just as extensive (or more so) support services for those who suffer.
We need to cut through the rhetoric on both sides and have a sane conversations about guns in this country. No other nation of the "civilized first world" has our murder by firearms rate. Why do we allow ourselves to arm each other as if we were all in the military. I was speaking to a hunter today (and I bear no ill will toward well trained, competent hunters--since we have decided we don't want large predatory animals near us, our hunters have to take on that role to control game herds that breed quickly to counter the predation of the hunting carnivores), who told me he couldn't fathom why any private citizen would need an automatic or semi-automatic weapon. You can't hunt with them, he added, it's not legal. Personally, I can't imagine how you use such a weapon inside your home for self defense either. I'd think any weapon with a high rate of fire would cause a great deal of damage to your property as you tried to shoot at an invader. It is time we worked together to ensure that those who have firearms have firearms that make sense for them to own, that they are trained properly in their use (yes, the NRA is instrumental in this role), and that never again do military style weapons get into the hands of either those suffering from mental illness or those cowardly creatures bent on revenge who could not do what they wish to do without heavy firearms. Here, I believe that gun owners could be instrumental in fashioning proper legislation and tactics to move forward in this arena. And, please, let's leave the nonsense statement "It isn't guns that kill, it's people" behind. This is ridiculous. Guns are a tool that facilitate human actions. High powered, rapid fire guns in the wrong hands are tools for evil, allowing mass murder to be committed, as we have seen in Connecticut. It is way past time we dealt with this issue as adults to prevent the grief of future families mourning over relatives cut down far too soon.
Please, people, can the rhetoric on both sides. See the problem for what it is, an evil, a social injustice, a blot on the psyche of the United States, a curse that must be dealt with using all or wisdom and all our courage and all of our combined efforts. Let the mass murder at this elementary school be the final clarion call to action. As President Obama said, four of these mass murder memorial services in the past four years is far, far too many.
Today, NPR reported that some NRA members themselves are calling for revival of the automatic weapons law that was allowed to die by inaction in 2004. Further, a Midwestern state is toying with the idea of concealed carry gun permits for school teachers and administrators ... which seems precisely the wrong take away from the tragic events in Connecticut. There are teachers I had that I am certain I would have been terrified of had they been carrying guns ... and why put devices that can escalate arguments between faculty and administrators or students to murder in the heat of the moment. That's my visceral response. Again, we need calm, sane discussion of these charged issues. We also need our leaders to get off their well padded wallets and purses and actually lead on this thorny issue.