Letter: Newtown tragedy highlights two issues

By on January 3, 2013

The recent tragedy in Newtown, Conn., while all the details are not yet known, has highlighted two issues nationwide. The first would be the need to limit access to high-power, large capacity automatic weapons. These weapons belong in the hands of trained military or law enforcement personnel, not the average citizen, no matter how patriotic.

The same rules that apply to weapons of mass destruction should apply to assault rifles and other such weapons. The NRA’s solution to place armed guards in every school is simplistic, impractical and self-serving. There have been shootings in theaters, shopping malls and beauty salons. Should we mandate armed guards at these and every other public building? Is that the vision of the world you wish to live in? I would hope not. This is a public health issue and should be treated as such.

The second issue is mental illness and how we deal with it in our society. The stigma around mental illness keeps two out of every three persons afflicted with this disorder from seeking treatment. Until we start thinking of mental illness as a biological disorder of the brain that it is, and until we get serious about prevention and early intervention, our society will not change for the better. While the great majority of the mentally ill are not dangerous (and much more likely to be victims of violence than perpetrators), the notorious few that are will garner all the headlines and attention.

After decades of reducing funding for community mental health services, closing mental health clinics and incarcerating the mentally ill instead of treating them, it is time to get serious about funding mental health services as we do other health issues like cancer, diabetes or obesity. The real solution to the issue should be limiting access to weapons that can kill dozens of innocent people in a short time, as well as treating mental illness as the physical disorder it is through prevention, early detection and intervention efforts.

Jerry Murphy
Sugar Grove

One Comment

  1. Zombieeye

    January 3, 2013 at 10:44 PM

    A great man once said, “We must reject the idea that every time a laws broken, society is guilty rather than the lawbreaker. It is time to restore the American precept that each individual is accountable for his actions.”

    Throughout American history civilians have ALWAYS had their own versions of military weapons. Yes do we really need 30+ round magazines? Do we really need weapons that shoot many rounds per second? Well you have your own opinion. But I make this case, why do we now? Because we can!!! We are Americans and that is who we are. We as Americans have always had the biggest and best over any other country. They build a car, we build a better one. They build a ship, we build a better ship. They build a gun we build a bigger gun and so on and so on.

    Yes horrible things happen to people. That is the world we live in. People who are crazy to do horrible things will find ways regardless of regulations and restrictions. Mentally ill people are not accountable for the actions they choose. Most never see a jail cell why? Because they are mentally ill. People make excuses and then they send them away where they are medicated and then sent back out into the world only to do something else and get sent back to institutions. Mental illness cannot be cured only suppressed by medication.

    So as a gun owner I am upset that there may be a gun ban. I understand the politics and see both sides. But it upsets me more because I am an American and because of that I want to have the best car, biggest boat, and biggest GUN I can. Not because I need these things but because I have the right to do so. That is the point. There are a lot of things you don’t need. A Lexus, a gold watch, ect. But you buy these things and crave these things because you have the right to.

    Americans crave these things because that is who we are. If you tell us you cannot have this, then we crave it more and find any way to get it.