A call for change
Ignorance of gun issues could lead to tragedy
Published: Sunday, January 27, 2013
Updated: Wednesday, January 30, 2013 16:01
They say ignorance is bliss. The bitter truth is that ignorance can lead to tragedy, though. This is especially true if this ignorance involves the critical epidemic of gun violence and mass shootings plaguing the country. Surprisingly, our reaction continues to be the same after each of these devastating occurrences. Many regard these events as being unimaginable despite 62 mass shootings across the country since 1982. The sooner we come to accept that this is a real issue, the sooner we as a nation can collectively create steps to address and prevent such tragedies.
Not only have we perceived these events as being inconceivable, but we also continue the routine of analyzing the perpetrator's motives, background, and mental stability in detail. Although gathering some of this information is necessary, simply focusing on the details of each mass shooting will prevent us from taking a step back and addressing the issue at large. At the end of the day, the real question is: Do we have any idea how to prevent these shootings from occurring so frequently?
President Obama has addressed this question by putting several proposals involving gun control in action. These include but are not limited to strengthening the background check system, allowing schools to hire more resource officers and develop emergency preparedness plans, funding CDC to conduct research on gun violence to find best ways to reduce it, and, finally, restoring the ban on military style assault weapons.
Although these all appear to be effective methods at maintaining gun control, a key issue has not been addressed: the pressing need for a severe mental healthcare reform in the United States. This is evident in the article by Liza Long, "I am Adam Lanza's Mother," where she expresses that her mentally ill son had virtually no options but to be charged with a crime and sent to prison. It is important to point out that those who suffer from mental illness are victims themselves and are not merely perpetrators. We as a country have a moral obligation to see that these victims receive the help they need and, in this process, will be indirectly decreasing these epidemics from occurring.
Certain Latin American countries have implemented specific strategies at reforming their mental health care system which have proven to be effective. For instance, countries like Cuba and Brazil have both called for integration of mental health into primary care, shifting from hospital-based care to community-based care, and protection of the human rights of people with mental disabilities.
Cuba, specifically, has created a detailed mental health plan that made it possible to develop new mental health facilities in the community, create specific mental health programs, and train mental health professionals.
Brazil has mental health centers equipped with outpatient and partial hospitalization services. The creation of such facilities has resulted in the number of psychiatric hospital beds dropping by one-fourth in the early part of the 2000s in Brazil.
Taking inspiration from these strategies will not only address the specific issue of mental health care but may also play an indirect role in increasing our national security. If anything, it is extremely important to have educational providers notice traits of mental instability early on so that these individuals can receive the access to therapeutic help in a timely manner.
Another important factor may be to increase the spread and strong development of anti-bullying programs throughout all public schools in the United States. This effort may reduce actions of violence that are a result of bullying at any age.
Although I respect the second amendment, I do not think it is necessary to hold the title of being "the most armed nation in the world." Definitely, not at the cost of inducing mass violence. It all comes down to upholding the fundamental right to bear arms or protecting past and future victims from having their basic rights of peace and security violated. We as a nation need to assume responsibility for these acts, take steps to actively combat them, and keep the right perspective on what is most important in order for change to occur.