Are Tougher Gun Laws the Answer? Maybe The Solution is Not That Simple

Photo: Fotopedia

It’s not very often where I choose to get personal on this site, but the events in Newtown, CT have spurred me to write. I realize I am in a position where I can express my feelings in a more public setting than most, and I will do so respectfully, for the families who have lost loved ones, and also keeping in mind there are those who may not agree with me.

I cannot imagine what parents who have lost a child are going through. It makes me hug my daughter tighter and tighter, wishing there was a way to lock her in her room, home school her, and not let her out of the house. But that’s not realistic.

We currently live in a society where mental illness isn’t discussed. Even in 2012, there is a stigma associated with it and no one is willing to step up and seek help. And what help is available is hidden deep behind miles of red tape and insurance nightmares.

It’s easy to say we need tougher gun laws- and I agree to some extent,  in this country we do need tougher legislation. But that will likely not end the violence. We need to address the deeper issue. This man was clearly disturbed in some way. He needed help, and didn’t get it for one reason or another. Our healthcare system is in shambles, and until there is some  reform, coupled with gun control, I don’t think we’ll see an end to tragedies like this. We need to address the root of this problem: what went wrong in his mind, not just what he used to carry out his evil. If there wasn’t an arsenal in his mother’s house, would he have found another way? Probably. How do we control the mental health of every household in this country? And how do we make sure that they do not own guns if there is a risk?

Until we figure this out as a society, what I can do is be more vigilant as a parent. I can become more active in my child’s school, voice my concerns loudly when I feel something isn’t right, talk to her about her day, ask about her friends, ask if there’s someone in her class who doesn’t seem OK. I do not believe that young man (who I refuse to name, ever) suddenly snapped on Friday in CT and became a mass murderer. There must have been signs before this and I, as a parent, will keep a continuous watchful eye.

 

On a more positive note, I call upon everyone to perform random acts of kindness- help someone in some way, whether you know them or not, in honor of those who have been affected by such a heinous tragedy. Remind others, and teach your children, that there are still more caring, loving, thoughtful people in this world than there are violent and depraved.

 

–Jesseca Stenson