History is said to repeat itself and the recent horrifying events at Sandy Hook Elementary have proven that to be true. America has mourned after each of these tragic events, but we have only made meager attempts to address root causes after Columbine. Or after Virginia Tech. Or after Aurora. The list continues, although I truly wish it didn’t. In these cases, school children were then taught emergency procedures, metal detectors might have been stationed at the school entrance or perhaps the presence of police on site temporarily increased. These practices are not likely to stop a individual who truly is an “army of one” with an arsenal of automatic weapons and no concern for his own life. So here we are.
I find it disheartening that we as a nation seem to have to completely hit rock bottom before we can have an honest and open discussion about assault weapons and mental illness. White House Press Secretary Jay Carney told reporters on Friday that ‘today is not the day’ to discuss gun laws. In a sense, he’s very right. The time should have been after the first tragedy. But at this point, it’s not about finding something or someone to blame. It’s now about how each one of us can now become part of the solution.
One in four Americans struggles with a diagnosable mental illness and often, because we don’t talk about these issues, they struggle alone. Events like the shooting at Sandy Hook have previously continued to stigmatize those suffering with mental illness. I am writing this in part to remind you that we are ALL in this together. Our schools, communities, parents, and teachers need to work together to ensure that at-risk children receive the care they deserve. And that now, the survivors receive the counseling they will surely need.
I am an American citizen who don’t have all the answers, but collectively we can find the answers and make all of our public spaces safe and secure. As President Obama stated in his address to the nation after the attack, ‘Surely, we can do better than this.’ We honestly can’t afford not to. The choice is ours.