When Bad Things Happen – Part 2

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I wrote this post after the previous one. There is some redundancy between the two, because the first was a comment in response to a friend’s posting, and this was what I wrote to share on my wall. I don’t talk about mental health much, because I spent so much time writing about it for letters to Legislators Tuesday night, and in the other post, that I felt like I talked about it already.

It’s past 3 a.m. and I take The Big Exam later this morning. I should be sleeping. I need to start reviewing my resources at 6, so if I don’t know answers I know where to find them, but I can’t care that I’m not sleeping. My mind is full of thoughts of how incredibly fortunate I have been throughout my life, and am tonight, to cover my son with a blanket and kiss him good night, as he sleeps on the couch. I think of those who were deprived of that gift forever, today and find myself thinking any worries I can have for myself now, and any problems I may have later this morning are trite, because I could hug Andy tonight,  and hear him mumble, “I love you, too” .

And, I am angry with myself, because I have had very strong feelings about mental health care and gun laws for many years, and shared them on Facebook for the past three years as if that counted for something in someway. I did research on gun violence, accidents and the effectiveness of guns for personal security/protection. I explored other perspectives on gun ownership, tried to make arrangements with several people to go shooting, and learned what it takes to carry concealed in Idaho. I read hundreds of studies, journal articles, insurance benefit descriptions and worked in mental health with real people living in the actual world.  Yet, I waited until Tuesday night to start drafting letters to those who can actually create and enact laws to diminish the problems, the law makers that represent me at State and Federal levels. It took the mall shooting in Portland to push me to that.Bad things happen everywhere, but I am not convinced tragedy needs to be of the intensity or frequency we are experiencing in the U.S. The bombing and mass shooting claiming 77 lives in Norway last year was the worst tragedy there since World War II.There was an incident in a school in China today, too. A mentally unstable man injured an elderly women and twenty-two children with a knife. There weren’t accounts for the number of children who were able to run away from the assailant in the report I read, but since the incident apparently took place on a school ground, it seems reasonable to assume there were at least some others there.

I am bringing this up not to suggest the U.S. should be more like China, but to present the differences between being attacked with a knife and facing a perpetrator with a gun. A person with a knife can only attack one person at a time. It takes intense physical effort, and allows more opportunity for victims to flee. The notable point of the story about China, for me, is that no one died. All twenty-two of those children and that woman in China were alive tonight, with a chance to recover. That is what a knife offers readily, that a gun offers sparingly. A chance to live, even if you don’t get away. The parents of 22 children are fortunate tonight, to hear their children crying.

But here mass killers use guns (if you doubt this, Google “Mass stabbings U.S. and see what results you get, then remember “mass” is 4 or more deaths other than the killer’s in a single incident), and once again, the world saw how that plays out in the U.S. today. Only one woman escaped with injuries. Twenty children and seven adults died, and according to news reports, were still in the school tonight. I keep thinking of them, on the cold, hard floor of the school.

I also keep thinking about the parents, families and community facing the silence of lost daughters, sons, mothers, sisters, friends and co-workers tonight, and keep feeling I helped allow it with my silence for the past several years.

I am done being silent. I have lived, learned and thought about the issues enough. I have reached my conclusion. People with guns kill people. I can’t, with my silence, facilitate people getting guns to kill people any longer.

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This is my opinion, my take on Friday morning’s tragedy based on my knowledge, experience and understanding of life’s issues. I do not expect it to be yours, nor am I suggesting it should be.

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