Saturday, December 22, 2012

A Sad Story

 Like the rest of the world, I was horrified at the tragic shooting that took place in Newtown, Connecticut last week. I just can't get my head around the idea of murdering innocent children and those who would protect them. Why is our country becoming infamous for attacks like these? What is it that drives people to commit such atrocities. Many opinions have been heard from various quarters, but the problem is a complex one. I wanted to reflect here about some of the things people are saying. Maybe the saddest thing I read in the case was the words of one young victim's father who said at the child's funeral: "I'm so sorry I couldn't protect you." How indeed can we protect our children from the next horrific attack!

While the issue may be complex, for me, the need to immediately restrict access to military-style weapons is a must. There is no reason on earth why civilians should possess such weapons. The ones already out there should be retrieved with a buyback program funded by the government during a period of amnesty where no questions will be asked of those gun owners who come forward. When this period expires, continued ownership of such weapons should be classified as a felony with guaranteed jail time for violators. There is no downside for such actions other than ridiculous second amendment objections that are plain wrong. We don't want to ban all guns, just those meant only for mass killing.

Next we have to evaluate our systems for identifying and treating people with mental disorders who might have the potential for committing violence. There are many programs in place now in schools and the workplace, but they don't seem to have any consistency in terms of not only diagnosing disorders, but providing the right kinds of treatment. It would be easy to stigmatize people with such problems, and that is exactly the opposite of what is needed. Attitudes like that are what drive people with mental issues deeper inside themselves, eventually finding outlets for their pent up frustration and rage in violent acts like the ones we are seeing all too often in America. 

Blame is also being directed at some of the violent video games that kids play where killing is an integral part of the action. Violent movies and television programs might also contribute to the desensitization of people to violent acts. While targeting the makers of these games and movies might help, parents must also accept responsibility for what their kids are playing and watching. These products would not sell if there was no audience for them. We can't just plant our kids in front of a computer or TV and be thankful they're being quiet for an hour...we must monitor what they are viewing and exert our authority when necessary to keep them from seeing things that are not good for their development. 

It has been suggested that "a bad guy with a gun can only be stopped by a good guy with a gun," Using this logic, the head of the NRA believes we should hire armed guards for every school, and allow teachers to carry sidearms to protect themselves and the children in their care. Do we really want schools to become armed camps? How can we expect terrified teachers to shoot it out with a madman in the middle of a classroom? The idea is a dangerous one. Improving school security to keep guns from getting into the building makes sense to me. Not allowing any Joe Blow with the money to buy an Uzi in the parking lot of some gun show also seems smart. There are already too many guns in this country and we need to get them out of circulation.

I wish I could assure that grieving Connecticut father that we will learn from this latest tragedy and do a better job of protecting our children, but I can't. Pressure is mounting on the President and other politicians to finally take on the NRA. I hope they do before we have to witness more funerals.


Children's Craniofacial Association

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