Friday, December 21, 2012

One Week Later: Reflections

It's been one week since the Sandy Hook elementary school shooting. I've had countless conversations about the subject, with my husband, family and friends. My initial, emotional reaction was this blog post.

I cried a lot in the days after Sandy Hook, and the littlest things make me thing about that day's events. But since then I have been able to digest my feelings and organize my thoughts. Here's what I've come up with. It's a long post, yes. But, events like Sandy Hook need to provoke thoughtful ideas and open communication on how to make our country a better, safer place. What follows is just my opinion, and I look forward to hearing yours as well.

Four ways to prevent tragedies from occurring as often in today's society:

Part One: On Gun Laws

The polarizing effects of the shooting were amazing. How a shooting can reinforce an opinion one already has is incredible. My facebook and twitter feeds were full of those anti-gun posting things like:
And those pro-gun posting things like:

Me? I'm one of those in the middle. I strongly believe in the freedoms we have in this country, the right to bear arms being one of them. That being said, guns also scare me to death, probably because I have not been trained to handle one, nor did I grow up around them. But as much as they scare me, there are two in our house, which my military-trained husband would not hesitate to use in a second if our family was threatened. They are in very safe locations, and I want to stress again, they are for emergencies only.

So what's the answer to gun control? In my opinion? It's not MORE guns, or LESS guns, it's simply more control. To be able to own AND/OR operate a gun, one should need to be trained. A hands-on class that teaches you both how to use a weapon safely, and how to use it responsibly. To operate, own or buy a gun, one should also need a background check by a government agency, that includes a gun safety test and a few essays. What is the purpose for this weapon? Why this weapon? Etc.

I'm not saying it would solve all the gun-violence in the country. But, it would be a long process to even have the right to operate a gun. That would include shooting your friend's gun at a range. You'd need a special sort of permit to be allowed to shoot a weapon. Period. With such an in depth process... maybe someone with bad intentions would have the opportunity to think their decision through a little more. And would have all the right information to steer them in a moral direction.

Part Two: On Mental Illness

In my original blog post, I called the Sandy Hook shooter (purposely not naming him, see part four) a monster. I want to apologize for that. He did a very monstrous thing, yes. But he also may have had some serious mental/social problems that prevented him from making rational, human decisions. So until we know for sure, I want to apologize for calling him a monster.

What changed my mind?  I read this article, Thinking the Unthinkable, where a mother deals day-to-day with a son, who might as well have been the Sandy Hook shooter. It's a must read, and brings to light the struggle that is mental illness.

Part Three: On Accountability

My husband mentioned a Fox News radio bit he was listening to after the shootings that said things like this tragedy are more and more common as children are raised with different attitudes than they were twenty or more years ago. It mentioned the kind of thinking like everyone's a winner, everyone gets a trophy, everyone is the best, etc. and how these sort of thoughts have impacted the development of those that are the young adults of today. I don't know if I agree with these sort of statements or not, but it got me to thinking.

Everyone needs a chance to be accountable-- to feel worthwhile and useful in today's society. I think a year of paid, mandatory public service for those just exiting high school is a great idea. It wouldn't have to be military service, though that kind of commitment would surely count as public service. There could be options as to which sort of public service you'd want to do and where you would be located. But it wouldn't be optional. This would give young adults a feeling of responsibility and purpose, while also teaching them necessary life skills in a real world environment. I think it would also leave these people with a feeling of being a part of a whole, working towards a greater good and better able to hand real-world situations.

Just an idea.

Part Four: On The Media

I was absolutely glued to the TV last Friday for nearly three hours while my son napped. I was continuously checking Twitter and Facebook for news updates, opinions and information. One of the things I watched was this video:
I totally agree with it. However, that being said, the things that are suggested as what not to do in light of a tragedy like this, seem nearly impossible in today's society of up-to-the second information coming at us from all different medias. I think events like this need and should be reported, however I think those responsible should not be named. As in it would be illegal to speculate or report on who was responsible. We should never see their faces. If we don't know who the anti-hero is, maybe the next guy with similar intentions will think twice, knowing his name and face most definitely will not go down in history.

That's all I've got. Just a few ideas, and ultimately no way to implement them, but to get my opinions out there. What do you think? How can we make our country a better place?
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