Roost: Let’s get to work to prevent more Newtowns
By Amy Roost
On Dec. 15 I awoke with the knowledge that both my boys were sleeping soundly down the hall from me. That same morning, in Newtown, Conn., the parents of 20 children awoke to a different reality: that their child was gone and never coming back.
I’m reminded of Chelsea King’s memorial service when friends, family and complete strangers like myself went to Poway High intending to offer support to the King family.
Instead, we received support from Kelly King, Chelsea’s mom. Kelly spoke of waking up each morning shocked — as if for the first time — by the realization that her baby girl was gone. She spoke of the paralysis that accompanied this realization. Then Kelly went on to explain to the rest of us parents what we couldn’t imagine for ourselves — how she was able to get out of bed and keep on living. She told us that she heard Chelsea’s voice imploring her to “Get moving! There was work to be done!” For several minutes Kelly spoke to us, hauntingly, in Chelsea’s voice, imploring each of us work to end the senseless violence.
What would the 26 innocents who were murdered at Sandy Hook Elementary tell us if they could speak from the grave? They’d tell us the same thing Chelsea did. “Get moving! Don’t let our deaths be in vain.”
Simply put, gun violence has shattered too many lives for it to be ignored any longer. Ask the parents of Luke Lipscomb, or the friends and families of the 34 people killed by guns across the nation each day.
Let’s examine solutions — all partial — to prevent another Sandy Hook.
First, institute what a majority supports — a federal assault weapons ban. Second, eliminate the secondary market for guns (trade shows, Internet sales) which ignores and makes a mockery of existing gun control laws.
Powerful forces will oppose such laws and argue that Second Amendment rights trump the safety of our children. However, just as it’s unlawful to yell “FIRE” in a movie theater despite the First Amendment, Rambo-style weapons should be unlawful despite the Second Amendment. These forces will also warn of the need to protect ourselves from government tyranny, but no assault weapon could defend us against the full force of the U.S. military.
Next is the issue of mental health services. There are two barriers to obtaining mental health services. One is the remaining stigma that is attached to obtaining these services. Overcoming the stigma will require a public education campaign. The day we can honestly say, without fear of judgment, that we have an appointment with our psychologist with as much comfort as we say we have an appointment with our cardiologist or obstetrician is the day we’ll have succeeded. The other is the cost factor. Too many people (myself included) don’t have insurance that covers mental health services. Make mental health care more available to more people.
Finally, we must do something to affect a paradigm shift in our violence-obsessed culture.
• Parents: Don’t let your children sit in front of a TV screen all day practicing killing people in video games.
• Hollywood: If screenings of violent movies are inappropriate the week after Sandy Hook, ask yourself, when are they ever appropriate?
• Nation: The next time our president goes to war or fires a drone missile on a hunch, speak out. Condoning unjust violence is the equivalent of condoning the massacre of innocent civilians abroad not to mention our own military personnel.
Given the callousness toward human life that we tolerate in the entertainment industry, and our government in its dealings with the world, is it any wonder when the callousness is replicated by the mentally unstable?
We can change. When a terrorist was caught with a shoe bomb, airport security changed. When adults were killed in war-torn Benghazi we demanded changes in embassy security. Kelly King got moving and passed Chelsea’s Law.
Fifty-five residents of Newtown, Conn., moved on Washington last week lobbying for stricter gun laws. The time for the rest of us to get moving has passed. That time was before Sandy Hook, Aurora, Oak Creek and Tucson. Let’s not delay further. Let’s get moving. There’s work to be done.
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