Monday, December 17, 2012

monday morning thoughts

I finally had to break down and tell the kid something about what happened in Connecticut on Friday, as I knew she would hear about it both officially and unofficially at school this morning. I told her that something very bad happened at a school in Connecticut on Friday, and that her teachers might talk about it with the students today. That a bad man with a gun hurt some people, but that her school was safe, and that her teachers and I would keep her safe. That she might have a fire drill today. That some things, like the gate that stays open for parent pick-up and drop off may have to stay locked all the time now. That things would change. But that she shouldn't be afraid. We'd keep her safe.

I also mentioned the gate we have here at our apartment building and the doorman, and how no one can just come up to our house without being checked through first. That we have to get a phone call and decide whether to let them up or not. She said that she had seen one of the newspaper headlines at the supermarket, about how a "mother trained her son to shoot" and wondered what that was about. I told her the son was the bad man and he did shoot some people. She asked if he was in jail and I told her he had shot himself. She theorized that he probably didn't want to go to jail for the rest of his life, and I said we still aren't sure yet why he did what he did, but that he couldn't hurt anyone else.

I couldn't help feel a little choked up as I dropped her off this morning. The school principal was out with the two teachers that are regularly at student drop-off. Our doorman said to me "Enough already" this morning about the media's endless coverage of what happened at Sandy Hook Elementary School on Friday, but I told him he was wrong. For once I agree with the endless coverage. We can't afford to forget what happened. We need to be reminded that the United States has had too many similar incidents in the past decade. When President Obama read off the names of each child at the memorial in Connecticut yesterday ... we musn't forget these people.

I pray that the President can force the Senate and Republicans and all the special interest groups to put politics aside and help make our country safer for children and adults. The 2nd Amendment is not being threatened — we are. There will be no easy fix, as there are many facets to be discussed and examined. But there are some things we can do without taking away citizens' rights to own guns that would at least help a little in preventing a massacre like this from taking place again.

Limit where guns and ammunition can be purchased. No more guns and bullets at Walmart. All weapons and ammunition purchases should be easily traceable. And let's not try to fog the issue by saying "Criminals can get ..." These sorts of crimes are being perpetrated by "regular" folks, not criminals.

Ban assault weapons and the like.

Add a waiting period and a mental health check for weapon purchases. Cops have to have a psychological check-up, why shouldn't the rest of us?

No weapons or ammo may be purchased without the customer already owning or also purchasing a gun safe. When buying additional weapons, folks should have a proof of purchase of the gun safe, or no sale.

Part of the background check when purchasing a weapon should include whether there are other family members in the house who might have access. Names, ages, etc.

Improve the mental health care system. A recent heartbreaking post by a mother about her 13 year-old son details how his self-destructive and potentially dangerous behavior is getting beyond her ability to handle. But our current system makes it difficult to impossible to institutionalize such a person, or even get him temporary help that he so desperately needs. Meanwhile his mother and his siblings live in fear of the day he might go off. And so should we.

These are just a few ideas. I'm sure there are thousands of other ways we can keep ourselves safer. We must. We can't afford to let another one of these incidents happen.
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