Questions for you in the wake of Sandy Hook

I’ve been searching for words to describe the tornado of emotions–the ache, fear, anger, sadness, confusion–flooding my heart in the wake of the Sandy Hook tragedy, but I’ve come to the conclusion that words can’t articulate the depth of those feelings. Feelings that cannot even reach the depth that the families and community members of Newtown are experiencing.

But as a mother who is both aching for them and who is passionate about advocating for action in stopping massacres like this from continuing to happen, I ask–with sincerity–to engage in a discussion with you. If this is a time to send love to the Newtown community; if this is the time to examine core issues of this growing problem, such as accessibility and reform of behavioral health services in the U.S.; if this is a time to examine the role of God in our lives; why is it not a time to ask why there is a place for semi-automatic weapons in our society? Why is making an effort to take action in stopping acts of terror through controllable means such a terrible thing to address? Counter arguments have made it seem as if confronting and examining the issue of gun control is unthoughtful, politically-driven, and without tact in thinking of the victims. Isn’t it the complete opposite of that?

I’m genuinely asking for your feedback, your civil responses. Why is a taser not sufficient for self-defense? Why can’t behavioral health reform coincide with stricter gun laws? How is “turning to God” the solution in a society in which many atheists or agnostics are more peaceful than those who commit acts of hate in the name of their God? Why is a hobby in the hands of responsible citizens of more importance than preventing the same weapon from entering the hands of an irresponsible citizen? Although I know a ban on semi-automatic guns will not happen any time soon, why are significantly stricter laws so threatening to our rights?

I know you’ve most likely seen the stats about the high numbers of tragedies of this kind that happen in the U.S. as opposed to countries with stricter gun-control Iaws. I also know you’re sending just as much love as I am to the the families and community members of Newtown. Please, this is a discussion that needs to happen in a way that is respectful and considerate. What are your thoughts?

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14 thoughts on “Questions for you in the wake of Sandy Hook

  1. I think you pose some thought provoking questions and I do hope a national debate on these topics will happen and some action will be taken. This is too horrific and something decent must come from it.

  2. The reason that the right to bear arms was enshrined within the Constitution by the Founding Father’s was to avoid the situation faced by disarmed Europeans of being at the mercy of the armed agents of their own government.

    Gun control simply won’t work just as outlawing cars, knives, baseball bats etc wouldn’t prevent a violent person from using something else as a weapon of mass destruction.

    When Reagan became president and began cutting the federal governments budget; because of the resulting lack of funds mental health institutions began closing and/or forced to serve patients who tended to be violent, and who would otherwise have been locked up, as out patients.

    Unfortunately very few people are willing to pay the necessary taxes to lock up the mentally disturbed who tend to be violent and so we’ll have to live with this for years to come at an ever increasing rate.

    • Thank you for your thoughtful comment. I have to say, I agree with you in that, without guns, people will certainly find other ways to be violent. But the sole purpose of a baseball bat, a car, a knife, is not to kill. Those tools are not capable of causing the magnitude or severity of damage in the same amount of time that a semi-automatic weapon is. European countries with strict gun-control laws simply do not have the staggering gun-related homicide statistics that we do. I understand that there will always be mentally unstable people, but making it as difficult as possible for them to gain access to such a deadly weapon should be of priority to us, not to mention, to people who have no record of mental illness but, in fact, are unstable and capable of lashing out in such a way.

  3. I cried when this story first started, and I continue to cry when I hear/read follow-up stories. Two of my three children are in school, and I couldn’t imagine kissing them on their way out of the door, only to never have them back. My husband and I own a few guns. We do not hunt nor do we shoot for hobby. We simply own them for protection. My husband had to convince me to allow guns in our home and now with all of the horrific tragedies, I am getting my conceal carry permit. Part of me agrees with the idea of a ban on semi-automatic weapons and the other part knows that it is too easy to obtain an illegal weapon. When someone begins to plan something like this, legality is not an issue for them. I want to be able to protect my family from…well, any thing that I can. It’s early and I know I haven’t been “poetic” with my words. My point is that I feel more comfortable with guns at my disposal. I need to be able to protect my children, my world.

    • Sonya, thank you for your candid, honest and respectful response. It’s meaningful to me to be able to have these discussions with people like you who add a perspective different than my own. Since I don’t own a gun, I’m not extremely familiar with the acquisition process. How easy was it for you to obtain your weapons? Would you be opposed to stricter laws that make it harder to purchase them, even if it means preventing them from being in the hands of he wrong people? What about a taser? I’m interested in knowing your thoughts on why it wouldn’t be a sufficient form of self-defense. Thanks again for your thoughtful response. I have many in my extended family who own weapons, so I know what a passionate argument this is for both sides.

      • I wouldn’t be opposed to stricter gun laws. Some people have suggested the review of a persons medical history before they are allowed to own a gun, but I disagree with that notion. If we were to agree with that, who is to say what line could not be crossed with our extremely personal information. I do agree with limitations as far as a violent history, but that is looked at during the background check that is already in place to purchase a weapon. Depression runs rampid in this country, but does mean a person with a history of medically manageable depression shouldn’t be allowed to have a firearm? What about a person with bipolar disorder? What if your mother or father has had a history of depression ect? Would that rule the child out as a gun owner? Unfortunately there are too many ifs in these scenarios.
        It is rather easy to purchase a gun. They simply do a background check and as long as you pass the qualifications, you can own the gun. It is a little too easy, but as I mentioned before, the situation can easily become sticky.
        As far as a taser goes…as a woman, I am a little uncomfortable with close quarter confrontations. Yes, they have ones that shoot out the wires, but what if they are near or even touching your child? Granted it is scary to think of shooting someone near or touching a child. That is where instincts can kick in. I’m sure we’d each like to think we’d make a good judgement call in that situation. Also, someone who is aiming to hurt you will most likely not choose a taser as their weapon of choice. Adrenaline is a factor too I have seen men rip the taser barbs out and continue charging. Of course the same can be said about gunshots.

  4. Kendra, thanks for posing these crucial questions in the wake of this heartbreaking tragedy. I agree–it’s important to discuss the nuances of these issues in order to find some sort of understanding. I would like to know how many times guns have been effectively used for self-defense, on average in a given year, (by private gun owners, not policemen) vs. how many times guns are used to carry out murder and other crimes, on average in the same given year. I haven’t tried to find such stats yet, but I think it would be interesting to compare. I don’t often see news stories about people scaring off attackers with their own personal guns, but maybe that’s because those stories don’t make for big news? It just seems like when guns are easily accessible, they’re more likely to be taken into the wrong hands, or used for the wrong reasons, than to be used for protection against invaders. I understand that guns empower people to be able to protect themselves and their families, but what is the reality of that? I grew up in Texas, and my family owned a gun for protection. The only time I remember it being handled was when someone in my family was threatening to commit suicide–which was, of course, very traumatizing to witness and probably wouldn’t have been as traumatizing if a gun wasn’t in the picture. I understand that stricter gun laws wouldn’t necessarily stop school shootings from happening at all, but I imagine they’d prevent at least some from occurring… so wouldn’t that be worth it? Just because those who really want a gun and are driven by violence will probably find some way to obtain a gun, or weapon of some kind, that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try to keep guns away from them and make it a little bit harder for them to obtain their weapon of choice. And those who want to own a gun for protection should be willing to take a few extra tests to achieve that ownership for the sake of potentially preventing weapons from going into the wrong hands… for the sake of potentially saving innocent lives.

    In the face of something so demoralizing, I think it’s important to remember and cherish what’s inspiring, warm, and wonderful about humanity. Check out BuzzFeed’s “26 Moments That Restored Our Faith In Humanity This Year” –

    http://www.buzzfeed.com/mjs538/moments-that-restored-our-faith-in-humanity-this-y

    • The was an article published by Forbes earlier this year titled “Disarming the Myths Promoted By the Gun Control Lobby”. I encourage everyone, on both sides of this issue, to give it a read.

    • Britt! Thank you for such a thoughtful comment and I can’t remember why I didn’t respond to you! Your points are all exactly on par with how I feel. I think the risk of a family member misusing a gun outweighs the chances that it will be used against an intruder. I just would not feel comfortable owning a gun with my kids in the house. And if it were locked up in a safe, would it really be that effective against an intruder anyway? Would someone really have the time to unlock the safe to get the gun before it were too late? I’ve taken a pretty moderate stance on the issue because it has shown to be so incredibly polarizing, but I’m just baffled at the lengths to which people are going to protect guns. I don’t understand it.

      LOVE the buzzfeed article! There ARE so many generous acts of kindness in this world and we should definitely highlight them more often. If we did, maybe the gunman who commit these crimes for the glory of it wouldn’t be so prone to do so. There has to be a major shift in our culture!

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