Guns and mental health are a dangerous combination and the use of guns in the U.S. is on the rise and the people who are in the line of fire are getting younger and younger. We have had shootings on college campuses, in our high schools and now elementary schools. God forbid infants are next. There is always a lot of talk of action enforcing tighter gun control laws after senseless killings of innocent people and I hope it happens sooner rather than later. Every time we hear the details of another massacre it seems to boil down to someone with a mental illness and there are always a handful of people who knew the suspect and more than that had seen the red flags years ago.
Yes, I think we need tighter gun laws, but we need to talk about how we are going to help those who are displaying signs of “this is not normal behavior.” As a parent we all want healthy children, but that is not always the case and parents need to ask for help and understand the warning signs when their children are young and they see abnormal behavior.
I was a foster parent years ago and dealt with children with behavioral problems and I can tell you the system is messed up as far as diagnosing children. Professionals do not want to label children or diagnosed them with a mental problem before a certain age, because the behavior could change. I disagree, if the child is showing this behavior then take it seriously, it is what it is and the behavior will probably get worse, and by worse I mean it’s a possibility that somebody one day will get hurt or killed by this individual. I plead with our lawmakers to not cut funding for mental healthcare. I plead for more education on how to help those with mental health issues.
As far as access to guns, yes background checks should not only include the person’s criminal past and any hospitalization, but talk to people from the person’s past as part of a thorough interviewing session. Increase the waiting time to six months or even a year from the time they come in to purchase the gun, maybe something will surface about the person in the meantime. To move forward and protect our children, I recommend steel doors or bullet proof doors and monitors in all classrooms where teachers can see who is entering the building and school office. Install an emergency button in the classrooms that teachers can push that would alert the police immediately, if anything looks out of the ordinary or suspicious, implementing any of these would allow teachers time to lock down the classrooms or get out of the building through emergency exit doors from other parts of the school. Until gun laws are changed and mental health is tackled on another level, all we can do is continue to pray.
Will the devastating loss in Connecticut move this country to immediate change in gun laws and mental healthcare issues? On behalf of all the children who lost their lives, I hope so.