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.

Amy Roost

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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Posted by Staff on Dec 26 2012. Filed under Columnists. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

25 Comments for “Roost: Let’s get to work to prevent more Newtowns”

  1. Tom Yarnall

    Amy, if making assault rifles illegal will get them off the street, meth and cocaine should be made illegal too.
    I am surprised you mentioned Luke Libscomb since he, apparently, accidentally shot himself while in a crazed state after smoking a drug you want to make legal.
    This is a good example of how marijuana is a gateway drug that leads to the harder stuff.

    • No Amy Fan

      Tom, Amy's comment is par for the course. I've since stopped reading her column for the simple reason half the time she didn't appear to know which side of the fence to stand on. Although I do admire that she couldn't care less what I think which is obviously the way I feel in return.

      • Amy Roost

        @No Amy Fan, I didn't realize we were on a first name basis ;-)

        And, if you don't read my columns, what are you doing at the bottom of one?

        • No Amy Fan

          Strictly for the comments Amy, strictly for the comments. They add value to your otherwise worthless dribble of babbling.

        • Tom Yarnall

          Amy, it is usually not necessary to read your columns to know your stance on issues. Usually just reading the headline is enough. Your politics, philosophy and moral values are predictable, just as are mine.
          I do read them because I keep searching for something we agree on and many times you present thought provoking ideas that are stimulating.
          You are, also, a very good journalist, almost as good as Dick Lyles and Alan Hemphill. :))

    • Amy Roost

      Tom, If we can agree that Babe Ruth needed a baseball bat to hit home runs, perhaps we can agree on the fact that Luke Lipscomb needed a gun to "accidently" shoot himself.

      • Tom Yarnall

        Amy, the cause, smoking laced marijuana. The effect, shooting himself. Would he have had the accident lf if he wasn't crazed by your drug of choice?
        BTW, there are twice as many people killed with a hammer and baseball bat type weapon than are killed by a rifle.

        • Amy Roost

          Out of respect to Luke's family, I'm not going to say anything more about the circumstances of his death. I'll just end by saying where there are guns there are accidental deaths.

          • Tom Yarnall

            I agree.

          • Guest

            An inanimate object never killed anyone. Why is that so hard for you liberals to understand?

          • Amy Roost

            Guest–true unless we include acts of God, however, a gun with a magazine clip will take out more people more quickly than a knife or–statistics which gun lovers brandish statistics about. "22 people we're stabbed in China by a madman the day of the Newtown massacre," etc. What they fail to mention is that none of those people died. If we could save just one life with more sensible regulation (NOT banning all firearms–but regulating the most destructive), wouldn't it be worth giving up a little bit of our so-called liberty (which conservatives ignore when in comes to Patriot Act, drugs or saving the life of an unborn child) to save that life? I know if it were my child's life who was saved because the killer was apprehended when he went to reload his handgun, I'd be more than willing to give up a little liberty.

  2. Clariece

    What all fail to realize in this discussion is that the access to the guns is the issue – not the legality of the guns. Properly stored guns don't kill people. The Newton shooter's mother knew he had mental illness and yet instead of storing her guns off-site she essentially handed him the weapons by keeping them in her own (secured or not). In the Lipscomb shooting (and I don't believe it was accidental) – the grandfather negligently left a loaded weapon out on the kitchen table and out of his control.

    • Amy Roost

      If you favor restricting access to guns (as I do) do you favor restricting ALL access to assault type weapons? They're not necessary for self defense, won't be any more effective in overthrowing the government than a handgun, and have the potential of causing much more carnage should a mentally unstable or negligent person get there hands on one.

      • Clariece

        I don't favor restricting guns. Please don't infer that by my using the word "access" that I mean anything other than the method of storing one's weapons. I am a firm, solid believer in the Second Amendment and everything that it stands for. I favor less restrictions (since there are nearly 50,000 laws on the books currently regarding guns, gun possession, usage, etc.)

        The push now for access to medical records to determine if gun owners or potential gun owners have ever been prescribed or are current being prescribed anti-depressants is deep violation of HIPAA laws and will do nothing to prevent gun violence. Removing/restricting/destroying legal gun ownership will do nothing to make you any safer. It will however ensure that criminals will have the fire power.

        And let's be honest, do you really want the administration that gave us Fast 'N Furious which resulted in illegal arms to Mexican drug cartels and the death of a border patrol agent, to be anywhere at the table discussing reasonable gun ownership? From the beginning the current administration has had on its agenda to remove guns from law abiding citizens. And that dear Amy will happen never. Not at my house at least.

        • Amy Roost

          Out of curiosity Clariece (all politics aside) what is the point/purpose in your owning a gun?

          • Get a clue

            It's called protection. I suppose your idea of it would be calling 911. Good luck with that.

          • Amy Roost

            Your paranoid fear of a possible dystopic future prevents you from addressing our actual dystopic present, i.e. assault weapons are being used to kill our babies.

            I suppose you think killing babies is okay if it's with a gun, but not okay if it's a doctor performing an abortion? Gun owners liberties=good. Woman's liberties=bad. Perhaps you may need to get in line for a clue?

          • Clariece

            Protection first and foremost.

            You need to pull your rose colored glasses off and understand that the bad guy isn't going to listen to reason. If you truly did your research on personal protection you will understand that more crime is averted because of gun ownership than is committed because of gun ownership.

          • Amy Roost

            I'll take my glasses off Clariece if you agree to take off the blinders. Why does anyone need a 30-round clip to protect themselves? Shooting at high school in LA was with a rifle. I person injured. I would guess the scenario would have been a lot different if the assailant had a gun that fired multiple rounds. No one's going to take away your precious handgun you sleep with under your pillow. Just because we can't do everything is no excuse to do nothing about gun violence.

          • Clariece

            A. It's not under my pillow, I drool and it would rust. B. What is the difference between 10 rounds, 15 or 30? C. Your insistence that I give up what I find important is precisely why we have a Second Amendment. (And by important – it's not something I think about every day – it just happens to be front and center right now).

            I appreciate your unrealistic level of paranoia about guns in general. It is typical level of fear by people who have truly no real knowledge about guns, have never attempted to educate themselves through a gun course to get over the irrational fear over guns in general and insist the media is accurate on gun incidents. Statistics bear out that more lives have been saved and violence prevented by gun ownership than without.

            Addressing the actual issues that led to the shootings is where our focus needs to be. Proper storage of guns is the common component – not how many bullets can be fired.

          • Get a clue.

            You couldn't have said it better. Why go back and forth with Amy. It's clear she doesn't get it.

  3. The problem is the nexus between guns, mental illness and acculturation — only one of which is protected by the Constitution.

    While death by guns will always exist — even if they are banned, because any decent machinist can make them in their basement — we need to find ways to decrease mass murders, of our children.

    (Although, what is more "mass" than the 500 deaths in Chicago, this past year?)

    While more people are killed by hammers and fists than by rifles, certainly we need to TRY to keep the mentally ill from possessing massive firepower. We can't do that with reflexive attitudes by those who would use ANY excuse to ban guns for purely ideological reasons, and we can't institutionalize all of those with severe mental illness.

    Restricting possession of guns is about as workable as banning Marijuana.

    • Amy Roost

      Hey Alan, your opening line above sounds just like the premise of a column I wrote not too long ago ;-)

      When was the last time you heard of marijuana killing anyone? If it were the public health problem that guns are you wouldn't have Mayor Filner and President Obama issuing stand down orders to law enforcement agencies. I support legal ownership of hand guns and marijuana and the regulation of Rambo-type weapons and heroin. Why? Because in the hands of the mentally ill, angry, or negligent they create a public health nuisance–to say the least. Make sense to you? Or would you rather we not regulate anything at all? It's important to be consistent I think.

      • Frank

        Marijuana has killed people. People under the influence of marijuana have gotten behind the wheel of a vehicle and caused not only their own death but death and severe injury to others (remember the guy in La Jolla that parked on top of the kids a couple of years back?). They have drown in bathtubs, had pychotic breaks (spice), fallen off of cliffs, bikes, hit by cars and a myriad of other negative consequences. I wish people would stop putting for the nonsense that marijuana is harmless. It is – as a plant – but once ingested becomes another issue.

  4. My cooment about MJ was to point out the ignorance of banning anything that is easly obtainable — booze, MJ or guns. In the first place, there are already 200 MILLION guns, and we no longer live in a compliat society where FDR could confiscate gold.

    Backyard still demonstrated the stupidity of banning alcohol, backyard plots the stupidity of banning MJ, and machinests in their basement the gun.

    There are darn few "Assault Rifles" around — those are automatic weapons that have been banned for decades. The so-called Assault Rifles in the news are not automatics, but semi-automatics just like almost every rifle and pistol made for 100 years — they look like the same weapon used in combat but are a Ferrari-looking Ford Focus.

    Given a mere five minutes, any nut can kill 25 children in a classroom with a single-shot rifle. The element of time is paramount, and as street smarts says, "When you need help in seconds, the police are just minutes away." i don't favor arming every teacher, or every shool — just those teachers and schools that want it. Then, I favor all men in schools wearing coats coats, at least that way no one knows who is armed.

    At least let the bad guy with a gun, guess.

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