Violence must be stopped

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By Phyllis McLaughlin

Friday’s shooting in a Connecticut elementary school has this nation reeling with emotion. I am no exception.

I am devastated and deeply saddened for the victims and their families. I am sad for the shooter and his family, because somehow this man’s problems went unnoticed, and his family is also paying the price.

I am frustrated that these situations are becoming more and more commonplace – and more and more deadly.

And I’m angry. On so many levels.

I am angry that all we do, as a society, is go around assigning blame when these things happen. We blame the parents. We blame the media. We blame video games and violent TV shows and movies.

Instead of pointing our fingers at each other, we should be sitting down together and having meaningful discussions about how to try to prevent these things from happening in the first place.

I know there is no one thing that will fix this problem. But, there are several things that, together, could help us build a society in which our children are not forced to live in fear.

Stricter gun laws (no, I’m not saying an overall ban on guns) would help, as would a national healthcare system that ensures mental health care and provides support systems and social safety nets for families who are grappling with mentally ill relatives – particularly those with serious and dangerous illnesses.

These are two very unpopular issues with many people – gun control and universal healthcare. But if you take a good look at countries who have both of these things, their murder rates are lower and their overall health is better than ours.

People say that providing healthcare for everyone would be a drain on our tax dollars; I see it as an investment in our future.

And there are many, many people who believe that instead of restricting guns, that more people should be armed and ready in case something like this happens. They say it would provide added protection and make everyone more safe.

No, it wouldn’t. Not unless everyone who has a concealed-carry permit is trained to use them as well as our police. If you disagree, then please watch a recent segment aired on ABC News by Diane Sawyer. Access this online at www.youtube.com/watch?v=8QjZY3WiO9s&feature=share.

As for better gun laws, I find it ironic that I live in a county where I cannot buy or sell a legal product – alcohol. This is a law that I don’t support. However, gun advocates are asking me to support the right of any of my neighbors to buy and keep in their homes an unlimited number of weapons and ammunition that could kill hundreds of people in seconds.

I don’t support that, either.

I don’t believe that blindly protecting this right makes our nation great. I believe it holds our nation hostage, and makes us look irrational to other countries where these weapons are not allowed.

I refuse to accept that we must just throw up our hands and say that nothing can be done to stop this. I refuse to just accept that these massacres are simply a part of life, a part of our society. I refuse to allow our society to become a place where our children are afraid to go to school, or to church, or to the mall or the movies – or even to an event where they can meet their congresswoman – because they might become targets for deranged gunmen.

I refuse to believe that the best America can do to prevent these atrocities is to send more armed people into our schools – an obscene idea, at best.

We are Americans. We are better than this. We are stronger than this, and we must be willing to do what needs to be done to battle this escalating violence.

Let’s honor the victims of these senseless massacres by becoming a caring and responsible society. Let’s take all the steps necessary and possible to do what needs to be done – even if we can’t guarantee this will never happen again.

Preventing even just one of these acts would be worth all of it.

This is a problem and we must solve it.

That’s what Americans do.