Changes Are Coming

This time I think there will be action. After the massacre in Newtown Connecticut people are ready to see change.

Pro gun advocates say that concealed weapons deter crime. They point out incidents where armed citizens have intervened in malls and schools to prevent shootings. The say that people intent on killing pick places where guns are not allowed like schools, theaters, and malls. They say that teachers should be armed.  They say that guns don’t kill people, people kill people. They post pictures of deer being lead into giant mousetraps after new gun controls laws are enacted.  And, even scarier, people are rushing out in droves to buy guns before laws change. December 17, the Monday after the shootings, was the biggest day ever in gun sales in the US. With more gun dealers than there are MacDonald’s, it is easy to find a place to buy a gun and it is easy for many people to pass the background check.

Anti gun people only have to point to the horror of so many innocent people being shot. When you try to imagine a 6 or 7 year old with multiple gun shot wounds, the image is beyond comprehension. When you compare our country to those with much tighter gun control laws and enforcement, the numbers are staggering. We are shooting each other like a country in a civil war.  Semi automatic weapons and armor piercing weapons are only meant to kill people. They are not used to hunt.  People argue that they buy these weapons to protect themselves and their family. I wonder, like the incidents in Newtown, how many guns are taken from the owners and used against them.

Then there will be the mental help debate. As a mother of a son with Asperger’s syndrome, I am worried about how this will stigmatize people afflicted with this disorder. People with Asperger’s are not “madmen,” “maniacs,” “nutcases,” or “screwballs” as I’ve heard Adam Lanza labeled in the last few days. You can have Asperger’s syndrome and other afflictions as well. You can also be depressed, obsessive or anxious. Asperger’s does not mean you are violent or suicidal.

Even if it were other forms of disorders that were diagnosed with Adam Lanza, I do not hear compassion or understanding. I try to imagine the tormented life that these killers must live in order to bring themselves to commit such atrocities. Would you want to walk in their shoes? Would you want to live in a world with so little understanding and help? Would you want to be so isolated and shunned?

Part of the debate must address the health care system that has so little power to help in part because they are hampered by the privacy of the patient. In large part, however, therapists, parents, teachers, nurses, friends and counselors, who do want to help cannot do so until after and incident takes place.

I do not know the answers to these perplexing problems. I do know that education will help. Perhaps now people will not keep guns around venerable young people who do not have the judgment about using them. Perhaps now, people will begin to see their troubled students, family, friends, and others as needing help and compassion. Perhaps now it will be easier to help.

I, like so many others, feel that something good must come from the senseless violence. Let’s work to make it happen.