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‘Meaningful action’ means confronting gun lobby

To the editor:

Twenty children. Teachers. The principal. The school psychologist. Are these deaths enough? Have we finally reached a place where we can “take meaningful action, regardless of the politics” as President Obama has indicated he will do?

Will we actually push aside the gun lobby’s whining about their rights? Can we close our ears to their trite and misleading argument that people kill people, not guns? Will we find the will, as Britain and Australia did in the wake of tragedies, to tighten gun laws in this country? Have we arrived at a moment of agreement that the lives of our citizens matter more than the profits of gun manufacturers?

The shooter’s mother. The shooter. Can we open our hearts to our citizens who suffer from mental illness? To their families? Liza Long has written an eye-opening, heartbreaking online article about her 13-year-old son titled, “I Am Adam Lanza’s Mother: A Mom’s Perspective on the Mental Illness Conversation in America.” She cites a statistic from Human Rights Watch that found 56 percent of inmates suffer from mental illness, five times greater than in the population at large.

Have we moved away from warehousing the mentally ill in state hospitals only to commit them to live out their lives behind prison walls? Will we continue to be unwilling to transfer our investments from wars and tax breaks for our wealthiest citizens to build, instead, effective and comprehensive treatment programs for some of our most vulnerable community members and their families?

Twenty 6- and 7-year-olds. In their classrooms. Preparing to read, to write, to count. Will we change for them? I am trying to hope.

Deborah Charren

Northampton

Legacy Comments1

When tragedies like this occur, many of us feel shaken, sad, angry. For a short time, we feel motivated to do something. Then the horror of it gradually fades into the background while new affronts to what it means to be a human being rise up and take over the airways, the global media. Many feel this is a tipping point. After all, what is more sacred to us than our children? I've heard several comments from the Newtown citizenry about how they never would have believed such a thing could happen here. And more Americans are engaged in questions about gun control and the other factors that play into a culture of violence. This event, clearly, has been about the worst we all could have imagined. But let us not forget that kids have been slain for decades in our inner cities and are languishing in poverty on Indian reservations. Who will speak for them? How can we hold our heads up in this country if any one of our children, wherever he or she resides, is in danger? In the meantime, there is an excellent organization based in Newtown called "The Unity Project". Dr. Woodall, who has worked in the field of trauma and resilience around the world for over 25 years, is offering his expertise and services to the community of Newtown. He is on Facebook at "The Unity Project" where you can find a link for donations and other ways to participate.

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