Why are we in a debate about this?
We have seen this story far too often. Something tragic happens, and the world pays attention for a few weeks, but no real change takes place.
After the recent tragic school shooting in Parkland, Florida, I have encountered headline after headline about the shooter’s mental health in addition to countless articles about whether or not we should change gun laws. But again, why is that a debate? It seems simple. People should be allowed to bear arms, but why would a civilian need an AR-15?
Some people would argue that this is merely a mental health issue (a mentally sick person with a weapon is mentally sick), while others claim it’s a gun issue (if there are no guns, there can be no gun violence). Dare I present the idea that it is BOTH?!
Mental health care is underfunded in our country, and people are generally not well-educated about mental illness and its effects on both the individual and society. Gun violence is also out of control in America, and that’s not my personal opinion but a fact. Far too many humans have died senselessly in multiple contexts across numerous cities because of guns.
As a mom, I say it’s time for change. It’s time for real action! But what can we do?
First, I’d personally vote that we all agree to STOP playing the political game and debating what the problem is. To me, the problem is clear: students, teachers and citizens in general are not safe. We don’t feel safe, and that is an issue we can all agree on. No one should enter an educational institution in fear. Let’s find a way to treat both problems.
Here’s what we can do!
- Write our local officials and congressman.
- Organize “Take Back the Streets” events where people can turn in their illegal guns.
- Advocate for mental health research and funding.
- Find a local organization that specializes in raising awareness and erasing the stigma of mental illness.
Finally, let’s get back to being human. It sounds simple, but truly; pay attention to people around you. Almost every time an event like this takes place, you hear that there were warning signs, but no one spoke up. What are we afraid of?
I’m tired of the finger pointing and guns versus mental health conversation. That dialogue is NOT stopping people from pulling the triggers, nor is it saving innocent lives. I think we can agree that we all want violence to end, but I do believe that both sides of this issue require addressing. Focusing just on mental health or just on guns will not serve as progress; we need to consider both, and we need to be willing to speak civilly about it.