Posts Tagged ‘mental illness’

An open letter* to my congressional representatives regarding their inadequate response to mass shootings

 

Dear Sen. Tester, Sen. Daines and Rep. Gianforte,

If I am ever gunned down in a massacre carried out by a person who easily acquired a weapon of mass murder, I request that you, as my elected representatives, please politicize it immediately.

Our country has perpetuated a toxic obsession and deadly glorification of gun culture — masquerading as “defense of the Second Amendment” — for far too long. How many people have to die at one time for you to take a good look in the mirror and finally say “enough is enough”?

Is 58 enough?

Are two-dozen elementary kids enough?

If your own children were murdered this way, would it be enough?

Until you and other members of Congress admit we’ve taken this defense of an antiquated amendment too far, innocent people will continue to die, and the blood will remain on your NRA-tied hands.**

Please don’t respond with some bullshit form letter defending your stance on the Second Amendment and blaming something else, like mental illness (the prior votes of at least one of you indicate you don’t really care to address that, either). You’re not idiots. You can see just as well as I can that no matter the other factors involved, guns remain the common denominator.

Do I know all the answers? No. But the current approach of offering thoughts and prayers hasn’t exactly panned out, so perhaps it’s time to diversify our strategy.

I am requesting — as your constituent, as a mother, as a human being — that you stop pretending as though there is nothing we can do to prevent future mass shootings, and instead work with your colleagues on both sides of the aisle to take meaningful action.

Sincerely,

A Concerned Montanan

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*Which I also sent to them via resistbot, which you should use, too.

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**It’s only fair to note thay Sen. Tester is not bought and paid for by the NRA, but his gun-sense record remains less than satisfactory.
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Another mass shooting, another spike in my cynicism

When October 1 rolls around again in five years, or even next year, will you remember? Will you remember October 1 is the day nine innocent people were shot and killed by a deranged man with a gun at a college in Oregon?
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Or will you not even register the date’s significance, because it was just another mass shooting, just another day in America?
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Thoughts
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I shared this satire and commentary on Facebook on Thursday, mere hours after the shooting. I considered deleting it upon realizing how cynical it sounded, but decided not to.
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I don’t want to be cynical about gun violence in this country. When I hear about yet another mass shooting, I don’t want to simply shrug my shoulders and move on with my day. I want to be hopeful. Hopeful that this one will be the last straw. If nothing else, I want to be hopeful for the sake of my 9-month-old daughter, who before I know it will be out experiencing the world on her own, where I can’t protect her all the time.
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But I’m not hopeful. I’m cynical. I have been since Newtown. If nearly two-dozen school children can so easily be shot and killed, and we as a society do nothing to fix the problem — a problem that is uniquely ours, that doesn’t happen in other civilized nations — what could possibly give me hope it will ever change?
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Blame mental illness. Blame racism. Blame religion. Blame the media. Sure, those all contribute to the problem, to some extent. But that does not negate the fact that all these incidents still have one significant detail in common: Guns. Guns that can murder throngs of people in mere minutes. Guns that are much too easy for anyone with sinister motives to access.
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I’ve never understood the logic behind the opposition to stricter background checks. If you are a responsible gun owner, what do you have to worry about? Is it really such an infringement on your freedom if you have to wait a few days before obtaining a firearm? Or to pass a basic psychological evaluation beforehand? When it could prevent someone who intends to deliberately inflict harm on innocent victims from following through? Is that not worth it to you?
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I want to be hopeful that at some point, enough of us will admit that while individual rights, including the right to bear arms, are sacred, they are not so sacred that it’s worth sacrificing the common good, over and over and over again. I thought Newtown was that point. But here we are, almost three years and dozens of mass shootings later, and nothing’s changed. Nothing’s fucking changed.
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I want to be hopeful, but I’m not. America is sick with its gun obsession, its glorification of these weapons. Even if we found a cure for this sickness, it would probably be too late. Honestly, I’m not sure why I’m even writing this. Mostly to vent my frustrations, I suppose. I know it won’t change anyone’s mind. People never change their minds. I certainly don’t plan to, not on this.
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So, I am cynical. But maybe — just maybe — beneath this deep cynicism, there’s still a sliver of hope that this time, America will prove me wrong.

No, mental illness is not a ‘choice’

 

Pissed off by all the B.S. about mental illness that has infected the Internet in the days following Robin Williams’ suicide, I wrote a column about it for the paper that employs me. I’m posting about it here and encourage you to read it, because this is important. Here’s the link.

Take care, friends.

What is it going to take, America?

A woman waits to hear about her sister, a teacher, following a shooting at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., about 60 miles (96 kilometers) northeast of New York City, Friday, Dec. 14, 2012. An official with knowledge of Friday's shooting said 27 people were dead, including 18 children. It was the worst school shooting in the country's history. (AP Photo/Jessica Hill)

A woman waits to hear about her sister, a teacher, following a shooting at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. She was later identified as the sister of Victoria Soto, the first-grade teacher hailed as a hero for shepherding her students into a closet. An official with knowledge of Friday’s shooting said 28 people were dead, including 20 children. (AP Photo/Jessica Hill)

I spent most of today on the brink of tears while reading about and seeing images from Connecticut. But now I’m just mad. Mad that our refusal to address these tragedies THAT KEEP HAPPENING has now led to 20 dead, innocent children. Twenty children who left for school today, without a care in the world other than what game they would play at recess or if they would get chocolate milk with lunch. And now they’re just 20 little bodies, lying lifeless in Sandy Hook Elementary.

What is it going to take, America? Fifty dead children? 100? At what point are we going say it’s not worth it anymore? When are we going to stop just “sending thoughts and prayers” and start looking for real solutions to keep these weapons out of the hands of the mentally unstable people who do such unspeakable acts? When are we going to stop using “Guns don’t kill people; people kill people” as an excuse? When are we going to finally say, ‘yes, it’s OK if it’s harder for me to get a gun if it could help prevent these tragedies”?

Honestly, I don’t know the gun-control statistics from countries around the world. I don’t know if stricter laws would help. I’m sure if I did enough research, I could find stats that would prove points on both sides of the argument.

I don’t know what the solution is. I suspect more emphasis on getting help for the mentally ill is part of it. I would think that increasing the requirements someone — anyone — must meet to get a gun would help, but I don’t know. The kid behind today’s massacre used his mom’s gun to murder her, so who knows.

And even if it is true that guns don’t kill people; people kill people, we have to ask ourselves why these people killing people are using guns to do it, and figure out what we must do as a country to prevent it from happening again and again and again.

Again, I don’t know the solution. But no one can deny that what we’re doing now is NOT. WORKING. Unless you think 20 dead children is OK, you cannot say it’s working.

So instead of just thoughts and prayers, let’s take action. Let’s re-examine whether our values and beliefs on the topic are practical in reality. Let’s encourage discussion on what we can do better, from talking about it with friends and family to voicing our opinions to local and national lawmakers. Let’s get involved with and support organizations that can effect change. Let’s support compromising for common-sense reform.

Your thoughts and prayers are welcome, but they won’t prevent another massacre. Let’s figure out something that will.

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