Monday, December 17, 2012

For the countless victims

We live in a country that glorifies guns and gun ownership. We see people go to rallies with guns. We see people touting about what guns they own and post pictures of their amazing guns on facebook. We see people taking pictures of their babies with guns. And then we see incidents like what happened last week and we never ask the right questions. We never look to help the mentally ill before it's too late. And of course we never want to regulate guns. Our answer is always more guns. If more people had guns we could stop these when they happen. Why not stop these tragedies before they happen? And before you go on about your only argument that criminals will still have guns because they don't obey laws go research European and Australian gun crimes and compare them to that of America.

I have heard the arguments; if the teacher would have had a gun.... If another teacher would have had a gun.... Would that really stop these people? Do you really think someone could react fast enough before they killed a few people with a fully automatic assault rifle? Could another teacher or policeman in the school get to the room fast enough before he had killed 2, 5, or 10 people? How many people died in the Trolley Square shooting before the man with the concealed weapon was able to take him down? 6 people to be exact and he was an off duty cop. These gun massacres are becoming all too common. We get so upset about them for about two weeks and then we forget. We go on about our lives and we don't think about it again until the next one. How many more innocent people and children are going to lose their lives before we really start to make a change and do something about this epidemic?

The first step to look at is helping those with mental illnesses. 80% of these massacres are done by people who are in one way or another mentally ill. We treat mental illnesses like they don't exist. We treat them like they are going away and that these people are just using this an excuse to get away with crimes. In the recent past we have cut funding for this part of the population drastically. My sister works in psych wards in hospitals and has first hand seen these cuts. People that aren't "sick enough" are being let out because there is not enough funding. People return several times to the hospitals because they can't afford their meds. They get them while at the hospital, then they are released because they are functioning again and then go right back because they cannot afford their medications and lose their jobs and life. Why isn't this the first step? If we are so worried about these "psychos on the streets" why aren't we making it so they can have the medical care and attention they need? Why are they always pushed under the rug and forgotten and then only remembered when these massacres happen?

The second step is gun regulations. Now I know I am going to get a lot of flak for this one, but I don't care. I'm not calling for people to take your guns away. Guns need to be regulated more. The sale of ammunition needs to be regulated, period. (Again if you think regulations don't work look at Europe and Australia gun crimes.) You scream and yell that is infringing on your rights to have a gun, but you don't get upset when your car is taxed, licensed, and inspected on a yearly basis. You don't get all up in arms when you go to the pharmacy and they regulate how much sudafed you can buy. You don't get mad when you are put in a database when they think you buy too much fertilizer. So why not with guns and ammunition?

Every gun should be registered and licensed. If it isn't and you are caught with one, you should be fined and your gun should be confiscated. If you purchase so much ammunition it should be controlled and checked. People with mental illness should not have access to purchase guns, period. What scares me most, at least here in Utah, is that you can go to a gun show and purchase a hand gun without a background check. I can go to right now and buy a gun from a private seller and there will be no questions asked as long as I have the money. No one should be able to buy a gun without a proper background check and mental stability test.

Until we look at the real issues that cause these massacres and tragedies, nothing will change. Throwing out more guns will not fix the problem it will only make things worse. Until we get people the help they need and regulate, not ban, guns and ammunition these tragedies will continue. How many innocent people will lose their lives before we all start to care?

Please contact your local politicians and leaders and let them know this needs to end. That we all need to take a stand. Not just for you and me, but for everyone; and mostly for those who have lost a loved one from these tragedies. Don't just post your feelings on facebook or twitter. Take a stand with me. Each step forward brings progress and as more people speak out and act changes will take place.