A lot has been said lately about gun violence in America. I want to share a collection of sources that I have found most relevant to the debate and reflect my personal opinions about violence and society. I think about the national grieving that occurred, and continues for nearly the 3,000 Americans who died on September 11th. We have been involved in 3 wars, lost and wounded many more soldiers, and killed countless civilians in other countries as a result of the national outrage at such an attack on “American soil”. Yet, over 30,000 gun deaths occur annually in the U.S. …
I feel that to address the issue of gun violence we need to address the issue of violence in America. We can only address the problem by working to build communities that support young people, support the mentally ill, and support all of us who don’t fit into one of those categories but still need support. We all need support, and we all need to support others and challenge our ability to do more every day. That being said, I think that the conversations about gun control and mental health in this country can be constructive.
The following is an excerpt from: Ending Violence in Children’s Lives: A Resolution We Cannot Afford to Break, The Huffington Post, Michael Feigelson, 01/08/2013
If we want to transform our collective outrage and sadness into hope and make progress on reducing violence in America, we should start with ideas that have produced results and build from there. Part of the plan needs to be about changing aspects of the way we support families to raise their children. This means starting at the beginning. One example of how to do this is the Nurse Family Partnership. However, long-term strategies for the prevention of violence, like the Nurse Family Partnership, are not enough. Young children learn violence from the older kids and adults around them who model violent behavior. If we want to change the future, we need to find ways to model different behaviors now. Organizations like Cure Violence, a national NGO operating in 15 cities, have shown how this can work.
I feel the pain in my city wherever I go
314 soldiers died in Iraq, 509 died in Chicago
-Kanye West, Murder to Excellence
The following excerpt is from: The Root, Commentary, Kelly Goff, Posted: Dec 17, 2012
Shortly after the Jovan Belcher tragedy I was asked on a television program whether or not the NFL player’s high-profile murder-suicide and sports announcer Bob Costas’ courageous comments about gun violence in the incident’s aftermath would have any impact on gun control in America. I answered that they would not. The reason? Because as I noted during that interview, historically our country has only addressed the issue of gun violence when it touches the lives of those with whom our leaders are most likely to identify. Rarely are those likely to be incidents involving people of color suffering domestic violence or teens of color from low-income communities who are victims of urban gun violence.
Instead the gun tragedies that have actually moved our elected officials to significant action on gun control have been those incidents in which victims are most likely to remind our leaders of their own friends, families and communities, incidents like the 1993 shooting on a Long Island Rail Road train, which killed commuters from New York’s professional class or the 1999 Columbine High School shooting, which made gun control the cause célèbre of white suburban moms, culminating in the Million Mom March in 2000.
Now it appears another incident is poised to finally move our leaders to action once again, 13 years after Columbine. The murder of 20 children and six adults in the quiet and normally safe enclave of Newtown, Conn., on Dec. 14 is forcing a conversation about gun control that the shooting of 26 residents in one night in Chicago this summer – resulting in the deaths of two teens and injury of 24 others — could not. As previously noted in an analysis by the now-defunct the Daily, more Chicago residents, many of them urban youth, were killed by gun violence in the first half of 2012 than American soldiers were killed in Afghanistan during the same period.
Just think about those numbers for a moment.
I think there is a good case to be made for gun control, because of the normal amount of killing that goes on with guns. I am a little more skeptical that gun control would reduce these [mass killings].” -David Brooks, PBS Newshour, December 14, 2012
If we wanted to prevent the recent mass shootings through databases of people with mental health issues we would infringe on the rights of many more Americans than any gun legislation would. I hear pundits talk about the “mentally ill” as if it is easy to separate out the “dangerously mentally ill” and that such a label is consistent over time. Many states do not allow people who have been in a psychiatric facility to buy guns for a period of time, but the mass shootings in my memory would not have been prevented by any database of the mentally ill. In addition, the number of people who would benefit from mental health care is a huge proportion of society and treating those courageous enough to seek treatment and those forced into psychiatric care as dangerous, when the vast majority are not, only serves to further stigmatize these individuals and put up barriers to seeking treatment. By my estimate, any “database” that would be prevent mass shootings would likely encompass a quarter of Americans. How would the NRA feel about that? I think that would infringe on people’s rights a lot more than any gun control measure short of what they have in Japan (where gun violence is virtually non-existant).