From My WindowIssue Date: November 22, 2017
Thoughts and Prayers
By Jane Thibodeau Martin,
Readers; I realize a lot of you won't agree with my personally-held viewpoint. I try not to take advantage of the fact that I have this forum, which I inherited by default from my father. So I respect that privilege of a public venue for my views, and try not to abuse or utilize it often. But I am so heartbroken, and so pessimistic about the course we are on as a country, that I couldn't not comment on this topic.
I believe in the power of prayer, and try hard to practice the virtue of empathy. I am weary, though, of those whose sole answer to the slaughter of civilians by angry Americans with guns, is thoughts and prayers. I cheered the representative from California who left a "moment of silence" in the House after the latest slaughter in a rural Texas church (I hope there's not another one before this is published, but sadly, that is a very real possibility.) Saying the time to be silent is well past, he used the time to talk about the increase of not only the number of Americans being massacred by fellow citizens, but of the trend of more people, from infants to seniors, dying per event. This increase in death toll is being driven, in large part, by better murdering technology. The data does not lie; this problem is getting worse, not better. Our inaction on solutions has not changed, what has changed is the advanced person-killing technology.
A year ago I was happily ignorant of "bump stocks" a device which turns a semi-automatic rifle into something pretty close to a machine gun. Now, it seems our leadership is reluctant to "infringe on the second amendment" to outlaw such devices, and the company selling them is dealing with back orders. Personally, that makes me sick. I don't think the framers of the constitution knew such a device in the hands of citzens was a possibility; and the frequent platitude from the National Rifle Association to "enforce existing gun laws, don't pass new ones," seems very inadequate in the face of such devices.
After the church bloodbath in Texas, the president said this is a "mental health problem," and that doing anything about the gun regulations would not make any difference. It is interesting to look at that perspective; I absolutely concur that any person doing a mass killing is mentally ill. It makes no sense at all to kill people you do not know; it does not solve whatever issue you have to do it; and in most cases it means you yourself are going to die. So I agree there is a mental health problem.
My issue with that is that access to good mental health treatment in this country is about to get significantly worse. All of the proposals I've seen to do something with the Affordable Care Act/"Obamacare" reduce people's access to mental health treatment, starting with repealing the mandate that health insurance even cover mental health treatment or medications. So if we really believe that mental health is part of the problem, and I do, reducing access to this care is going to make the problem worse, not better.
So the long term "plan" we have in place currently, is to change nothing about the public access to mass killing technology; and we simultaneously decrease access to mental health care. (You aren't going to get much in the way of free mental health help at an emergency room in a public hospital if you are uninsured, at least nothing that is going to help you get long-term control of your illness.)
Beginning with the end in mind, here is what I can foresee. You may not agree, but I see nothing to prevent this from being our future:
A little girl asks her parents if she can accompany a friend to an event in a public park. As good parents, they ask if the friend's parent will accompany them. "Yes," she says. Her friend's Dad is coming with. "Good, what kind of gun will he be bringing to protect you?"
The answer many people have to our current problem is this solution " the civilian version of an arms race, a continual racheting up of military might and technology typically only indulged in by countries; but between U.S. citizens " those with the will and means to inflict severe harm, and those who are seeking safety through their own firearms. The thinking is lots and lots of good guys carrying guns at all times in all places contain the bad guys with their bump stocks and high capacity magazines.
But that wouldn't have helped the people in Vegas too much. And I personally don't like the vision of ensuring you have your gun with you at all times when you go to a high risk place; like church, a public elementary school, an Amish schoolhouse, or a concert, just to name a few places that have been turned into death traps.
Or, we need more armed security or organized volunteer armed civilians to protect us when we are outside our homes. There's already been a call since the Texas killings for armed security at churches. The alternative? If we want to go to a public place or gathering we'll have to go through something like airport security. We already headed down that road with schools and professional sports events; can malls, concerts or public parks be far behind? What about school buses, fun runs or fairs? Are we on a path to take us anywhere but to a future like this? And this future will cost us millions upon millions of dollars while citizens do without basic necessities, like health care, to pay for it.
I do offer my thoughts and prayers to everyone impacted in the latest senseless event. But I am sadly doing it without anticipating anything at all will change. There is a total lack of common sense in the United States about this issue, and more of us will die because we as a country are not serious about meaningful solutions. A country like ours; that put a man on the moon, has come up with brilliant medical innovations, and devised solutions to numerous highly complex problems, simply throws up its collective hands and says there is nothing that can be done to stop such killings. I refuse to believe that is true. I wish our senate and house spent even a fraction of the time they spend talking about taxes on the ever-increasing number of innocent people killed by firearms in our country. Instead, we get a minute of silence each sad time, and "thoughts and prayers."
I am a gun owner. I am not against people having firearms. But I don't think any of us need a bump stock; and I want everyone who needs mental health treatment to have access to it. There should be no more stigma to seeking mental health treatment than there is to seeking treatment for cancer.
Happy Thanksgiving; I wish you and your family and friends health, safety, and peace. There is nothing more meaningful on this earth.
You can reach me for commentary, alternative viewpoints or ideas at this e-mail address: Janiethibmartin@gmail.com.
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