Of Newtown, Gun Control
And Mental Health
As The Incidents Of Mass Shootings Of Innocents Continues To Escalate, Our Shared National Grief Must Be Transformed Into Efforts Aimed At Prevention
Photo by LINUZ90 and used under a Creative Commons license.
By Joey Hancock
Special for Modern Times Magazine
Dec. 16, 2012 — Shock, disbelief, anger, rage, grief are all feelings that people around the country are having after the senseless killing of 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook School in Newtown, Conn. early Friday morning.
These acts of mass violence happen every so often and the debate of gun control and mental health organizations rise and fall as quickly as the news cycle reports them.
Just 18 hours before the shootings in Connecticut, Michigan passed a law to allow gun owners with concealed weapons permits, with extra training, to be allowed to carry their firearms in schools, at sporting events on school properties, and day care centers. Illinois is also currently working on a bill to allow concealed weapons permits. Illinois would be the last state in the nation to allow such a law.
Gun control debates are already becoming hot topics across all forms of media, but as quickly as the debate becomes relevant again it will also just as quickly recede into the background of our minds as the next big event happens in the world.
We as citizens should not allow this debate to simply fall to the side as we wait for the next terrible mass shooting to take place so we can talk about the issue again. Something obviously needs to be done to take preventative measures against violence of this magnitude.
Since 1996 there have been 76 mass shootings around the world. The United States has an astonishing 59 mass shootings, including two here in Arizona, while the rest of the world accounts for 17. While the number of victims are similar, 183 for the United States and 180 for the rest of the world in mass shooting deaths, this number can be argued down because 68 of the deaths abroad happened during one event on July 22, 2011 in Norway. The question we must ask is “why?” Why are so many more shootings taking place in the U.S. compared to abroad? Is it the gun laws? Is it the lack of mental health organizations, or is it simply Americans are more prone to violence?
After I heard of the shootings this morning I quickly felt grief and shock as many others did, but I also knew these debates would begin and begin quickly. I tweeted and posted to Facebook how in China on the same day as the Newtown shootings 22 children were attacked at their elementary school by a man wielding a knife. All 22 children survived.
Just as quickly as I posted this I received negative feedback from many friends from my home state of Virginia. Postings such as, “Guns don’t kill people, people kill people,” and other ignorant comments. Though I may disagree with many people about the causes of these terrible mass shootings I also see where they are coming from and how difficult it will be for our government to change gun laws to deter these events from happening.
The idea of more people being allowed to carry weapons to limit these acts of violence is the most preposterous debate of all, but that argument will have to be taken up by people much smarter than myself.
Events like this have happened for centuries and we will always bear witness to terrible events in our lives whether it be school shootings or terrorist attacks, but it’s time we stand up and not simply feel grief for the victims and their families and after a couple weeks move on to the next topic. We must remember these events and make a change to limit these tragedies from occurring again and again.
We must remember the quote by philosopher and essayist George Santayana, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”
With as many mass shootings as we have had in the United States, and the lack of of prevention, it seems we as Americans are comfortable with repeating it.
Reach Joey Hancock at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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