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September 30, 2014

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Letter to the editor:

Answer to violence is leadership

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Friday’s tragedy in Connecticut is producing nothing more than our leaders uselessly tiptoeing around the issue of gun control. And the reason is not the Second Amendment.

It is no more absolute than the First Amendment’s protection of freedom of speech. As Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. pointed out almost a century ago, no one has the right to cry fire in a crowded theater. As for the “no establishment of religion” clause in the First Amendment, religious institutions’ exemption from taxation is a subsidy and, ipso facto, an establishment.

The problem is not the Second Amendment; it is the power or alleged power of the National Rifle Association single-mindedly opposing politicians who call for gun control.

The answer to this fundamentally political problem is leadership and organization — leadership by the president, governors and members of Congress, supplemented by plain citizens, working for gun control legislation and politically supporting those the NRA attacks.

Federal law must ban automatic and semi-automatic weapons. If it is argued by the NRA that this would be but the first step on a slippery slope, so be it. The killer’s mother bought the gun, presumably passing a background check, so they are no better than passing a driving test.

I don’t pretend to know all or most of the answers to a Sandy Hook situation, but we must deal with gun violence now. It is already too late for too many.

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  1. Mental health problems might benefit from an adjustment in public perception. It should not be stigmatized. There are all kinds of things that fit within the area of mental health.

    Many people can benefit from mental health services at some time in their lives if they can feel it is like going to the doctor for a pain or any other symptom.

    Catching a disorder early can benefit the individual, family, friends, and others who come in contact with someone going through a crisis to some degree.

    Everyone should feel the freedom to seek help when they need it, without fear. There is no reason to wait until it is critical and a person is unable to process rational thought.

    Stigmatizing mental health conditions and issues forces governmental actions, when that is the last ditch solution.

    Our attitudes toward mental health issues causes more damage that laws cannot solve. It is up to each individual to learn, change attitudes, and have the compassion needed toward people with mental health issues.

    Being sensitive and supportive can help a person to get the care they need early. It is about a disorder or illness, and just because it is in the mind doesn't make it any different than any other disorder or illness. It is just another part the body.

    What legislators can do is to ensure that the door is open to all mental health services for everyone who needs and seeks help.

  2. Our society has neglected mental illness and those suffering from mental illness for too long. All too often, proactive measures and interventions never happen for young people, and they grow up into alienated adults that are a ticking time bomb in our society at large. I see it everyday in our schools, that situation should be alarming to all of us. And the population is growing and the incidents grow in proportion to that growth.

    Decades ago, lawmakers virtually swung open the doors of mental hospitals and millions of mentally ill were released into mainstream America. Very little has been done since, to address aftercare and support for those who have been institutionalized, although the organization,NAMI, has made attempts to advocate for the mentally ill.

    Mental illness is NO respector of persons. It can happen to anyone, but poverty will limit access to care. The focus needs to be on improving the American mental health system.

    Blessings and Peace,
    Star

  3. It is always easier to focus on the tool than the tool user, in this case the gun rather than the mentally disturbed user of the weapon. We need to cut to the chase on this and start looking at the underlying traits of the perpetrators of these terrible massacres. Gun control is not the right response. It is a diversion only.

  4. Comment removed by moderator. Personal Attack

  5. BySgtRock,

    "Banning semi automatic weapons would not have stopped what happened in Connecticut".

    Attacking and killing 6 teacher's and 20 small 6 and 7 year children with an assault rifle.The results could have been less deaths if a hand pistol were the only weapon.Maybe the teacher's would have had a better chance of rushing the killer and stopping the slaughter, if he had not had a assault rifle.The children were each shot multiple times which tells us that the killer never let go of the trigger.

    Just thinking about how some of this may have had a better ending if a ban were in place against assault weapons.Does it take the death's of 20, 6 and 7 year old children to wake up America that we have a huge gun problem.

  6. This is what an intelligent article looks like:
    http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/20/opinio...

    Not that conservatives posting here will ever admit or recognize this fact.

  7. That's the ticket: don't like the Constitution and the protections it affords us all? Then trash it, burn it; better yet, rip it up. Hey, why not turn it on its head and make the USA a nation run by "Rule of Man" instead of by "Rule of Law?" No big deal, right? That is, until they come for something or some right you cherish. Then who's going to save your sorry behind? Osama Obama and his bunch of "useful idiots" are but one more nail in the coffin of the freedoms that so many of our fellow Americans fought, bled and died to protect and some are eager to give them up for, what, "pie in the sky, Worker Paradises" promises made by Socialists and Communists? I see where mental illness affects more than just mass murders!

  8. "The problem is not the Second Amendment; it is the power or alleged power of the National Rifle Association single-mindedly opposing politicians who call for gun control."

    Weiss -- you're wrong, and making a convenient scapegoat of the NRA solves nothing. Sandy Hook happened in a state with some of this nation's strictest gun control laws already enacted and enforced. Yet we see berserkers committing violent crimes like this because those laws are irrelevant to them. You also seem to be ignorant of this republic you live in. Congress has no jurisdiction of any strictly in-state crime like this.

    "It is always easier to focus on the tool than the tool user. . .Gun control is not the right response. It is a diversion only."

    Houstonjac -- I agree completely

    "...what is it going to take to make people in this country understand that the root problem to gun violence in our society is mental illness."

    BChap -- you made a career out of law enforcement yet you think that's the root cause?? Get real. Violence has always been with us. Human society has been around for millennia, and recorded their history for thousands of years, yet everyone now seems at a loss at how to handle the predators among us? The cure is what it's always been, and why it's enshrined in our Constitutions to protect defending ourselves and what's ours. The alternative is the kind of police state that organic law forbids and Orwell warned us of.

    "This case illustrates that tragic facts make bad law." -- Wyeth v. Levine, 129 S.Ct. 1187 (2009), Justice Alito, with whom The Chief Justice and Justice Scalia join, dissenting.

  9. "It is pretty simple for me. They are beholden to "Smith and Wesson" not you and me."

    JeffFromVegas -- hardly.

    "Abe Lincoln may have freed all men, but Sam Colt made them equal." -- post-Civil War slogan @ http://www.colt.com/ColtLawEnforcement/H...

  10. "From the fat tub of goo AKA Antonin Scalia..."

    Jeff -- opinions vary

    "We are fast approaching the stage of the ultimate inversion: the stage where the government is free to do anything it pleases, while the citizens may act only by permission; which is the stage of the darkest periods of human history, the stage of rule by brute force." - Ayn Rand (1905-1982)

  11. By Tick,
    "A ban would not remove the fact that,If someone wants that weapon they can get it.The ban didn't stop the columbine high school massacre in 1999".

    Adam Lanza the mentallty ill killer of 26 children and teachers in Connecticut got his weapons from his mother's arsenal.

    It has been said that he was shy and one to not talk to people. His hair stylist has said while cutting Adam's hair everytime he asked him a question he would not answer,only to have his mother answer for him. Do you really think he was capable of getting a gun on his own with his personalty. I don't think so,the weapons were their for him to take from his mother's arsenal,and kill innocents.

  12. To preclude violence and hopelessness, provide community, compassion and take care of our own. Social work, from the macro approach (deal with the global) says if we can only get people to take care of their own, we'd have nobody falling through the cracks. Sure, we need alternatives and options for orphans and those who've runaway from support systems but the emphasis should be on taking care of our family, our neighbors, our co-workers, our peers. We should have options for law enforcement and responsible adults who don't see the alternatives for specific individuals. But each and every day, the entire population, you and me, need to provide for our own--when someone we know is floundering. AND, since we're not all trained professionals, we should not push or prod anyone into anything s/he is not ready to accept. We should consult resources for advice: Dr. Phil is available, various other celebrity / contributors with professional training, our family physicians might provide guidance, the Quick Care non-ER staff.....BEFORE suggesting someone need's to be committed or placed into 24/7 treatment.

  13. Bradley,

    Your 6:10 AM letter of two parts is well stated and well reasoned. Personally, I don't care if they ban assault weapons or they don't. Other than that people want them, there is no good reason to make them available.

    If the Connecticut shooter's mom hadn't had an assault weapon, maybe he'd have just used hand guns and not been able to kill so many... and maybe he still would have killed them all. For the chance that a ban might have lessened the death toll, a ban on assault weapons might be a good idea.

    That said, the mental health issues surrounding the Connecticut shooter and others that have killed in mass killings are the more important but also much more complex issue.

    Americans that feel entitled and that just about anything should be allowed are, to me, where the problem really resides. Too many people want to be able to own anything they want to own with very few restrictions, don't want to pay enough taxes to support more mental health support for the mentally ill and are also unwilling to make it easier to force mentally ill people who do not wish to get assistance into settings where they are not totally free to act as they wish within the general society.

    If we want to do 'all' we can to lessen the chances of more killings like we saw in Connecticut, we need to address much more than assault weapons.

    Michael

  14. "If we want to do 'all' we can to lessen the chances of more killings like we saw in Connecticut, we need to address much more than assault weapons."

    wtplv -- Connecticut already has some of the most restrictive gun laws in this nation. Check it out @ http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424...

    "Sanity is a cozy lie." -- Susan Sontag

  15. Future,

    I am not arguing that gun control is the answer to mass killings. That would only be true if the government took away every gun in the country and could ensure that no American could ever get a gun. That obviously isn't going to happen.

    But the truth is that semi automatic assault type weapons with large capacity clips do make a person capable of killing many people in a short amount of time.

    Other than being in a war when your life depends on the ability to kill many people in a short amount of time, what, in your opinion is the reason Americans need to own such weapons, other than the fact that they just want to?

    Michael

  16. "Mental Health Care" does not identify, let alone help or improve, those who are systematically psychotic. Furthermore, there are so many classifications and variations of mental instability that it is impossible to create responses to 99% of them. The insanity plea just allows someone to stay out of jail after a crime.

    Many careers in psychiatry are created by removing a deviant from the standard judicial path, setting them aside and 'studying them' ad infinitum. The psychotic soul mates wish and pray for the same punishment, and the beat goes on -

    "Bang bang, he shot me down
    Bang bang, I hit the ground
    Bang bang, that awful sound
    Bang bang, my baby shot me down."

    But WTF, there's a lot of money to make here, particularly in the arts and entertainment field.

  17. BySgtRock,

    "Semi automatic require re-pulling the trigger".

    The killer in Newtown Conn.used a Bushmaster.223 military style rifle.You can choose with a switch to shoot either 3 rounds per shot or go fully automatic.Either way you can kill a lot of people in a very short time.Sounds like an assault rifle to me.