Monday, December 17, 2012

Mass Shootings

I remember Columbine. I was in Middle School.

I remember the VT shooting. I was about to graduate from college.

I remember the Gabby Giffords shooting. I was working for a company in Arizona.

I remember the Aurora Movie Theatre shooting. Josh and I were talking about moving to Colorado for work.

I remember the Sikh Temple shooting. It was 4 days before my 27th birthday.

I remember the Sandy Hook shooting. It happened on Friday and it's happening right now.

I woke up at 9:30 on Friday, December 14th, and turned on ESPN (like I always did). At 10:00 I turned on CBS to watch Wheel of Fortune. About half way through the show, a CBS Special New Report popped up. They reported that "4 or 5" people had been shot at an elementary school in Connecticut and that they would send us back to Wheel of Fortune until more "had been developed." While the contestants were spinning the Wheel, the news popped back on. This time it stayed on. I watched it all day. I bawled my eyes out when they reported that their original number was wrong and that at least 18 kids had been killed. I was so mad. I was so scared. I texted Josh and told him what was going on and then I jumped on the internet to do some more research.

Of course, I tuned into Facebook and the NY Times website. The Times was reporting pretty much the same thing that CBS News was. It was sad. The news reporters were in shock and fighting back tears. From Facebook I got a whole other side. Friends, well, acquaintances, were posting about their right to "bare arms". Some even went as far as to post about their love of guns before even saying anything about the poor souls that had died that day.

I get it. I do. I really do. I understand that people love their guns, that they are "gun enthusiast", and that they are worried about the Second Amendment, but come on, show a little heart. The Second Amendment isn't going anywhere.

Honestly, I'm not a gun person. I've never owned a gun. I've never shot a hand gun. Hell! I've never even touched a hand gun. However, I know that guns do not cause these terrible things to happen.

I think that people want to make sure that something like this never happens again. How do we do that? We identify what caused this to happen and then we get rid of it. Easy, right? Hardly.

If guns caused this to happen then we should just get rid of guns and then the mass killings would stop. Done! I solved all the problems!

These situations are so complex, sad, and scary. You are trying to penetrate the mind of someone who would kill children in order to understand why. 

I remember after Columbine happened there was a lot of debate about what had caused these boys to do something like that. There was a list of things to explore: psychological issues, bullying, access to guns, violent movies and video games, predisposition, music, etc. 

I think what makes these things so hard to predict and control is the fact that there is not just one cause. People who carry out these terrible acts have severe psychological problems, they don't have safe ways to express their anger, they have been bullied, they have been taught by violent movies and video games that there are no consequences for killing, they have access to guns, etc. 

So, all you "gun enthusiast" out there. I wouldn't worry. The Second Amendment isn't going anywhere. Sure, they may try to make it harder to get guns (why would that be so bad?) and they may try to outlaw assault rifles (why would you need those anyways?), but most people know that guns did not cause this to happen so you don't need to worry about your precious guns being taken away. 

I think the biggest issue here, in my humble opinion, is mental health. Getting help for mental health issues is nothing to be ashamed of. I think that our culture has made it so that if you go to counseling for a psychological problem it is because you are too weak to deal with it yourself. Or that you are crazy and should be in a mental hospital. That is just not true. Most people battle some kind of depression and anxiety and it is okay to seek help. I went to a psychologist (and later, psychiatrist) in High School. I was battling depression and anxiety and I went and got help. And yes, kids (and adults) are mean. People found out and I got made fun of. I couldn't find a date to my Senior prom so one of my friends suggested that I take my psychologist.

Bottom line is that people need a proper outlet. Making it easier to get help and educating people about mental health is a huge step forward. This will allow people to get help if they need it AND it will help others recognize the signs that are associated with people who need help.

Here is a quote from President Obama's Newtown Speech that I really liked:

"...I’ll use whatever power this office holds to engage my fellow citizens, from law enforcement, to mental health professionals, to parents and educators, in an effort aimed at preventing more tragedies like this, because what choice do we have? We can’t accept events like this as routine."

Outlawing guns is not the answer, outlawing violent video games and movies is not the answer, forcing people to go talk to a psychologist is not the answer. Educating each other, loving each other, and working together is a step in the right direction. 

I will always remember the horrific events that happened at Sandy Hook, but that is not what I want to remember or focus on. I want to remember the heros. The teachers that protected their kids. The first responders. The kids themselves who tried to be brave. I want to remember these things and move forward. I want to love and not judge. I want to help those who need help so that we can prevent things like things from happening again. 

There have been a lot of great articles/blogs that have come out since Friday (here's one). Please go and read them and educate yourselves. I know I will.

1 comment:

Stephanie said...

Great post, Courtney. I haven't read/listened to Pres Obama's comments yet, but I'm pretty sure you hit the highlights. So good. So true.

Every time I see a flag at half staff I get a little choked up. It's hard to wrap your mind around.

I, too, LOVED that article you linked to.