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I didn't think I had anything to say about this horrible HORRIBLE incident from yesterday, but I keep replying places, so.

Full disclosure: Mr. S and I have guns in our house. We have the actual guns in one electronic safe, the ammunition in a second electronic safe. (We also talk openly about guns to the older children, about how dangerous they are, responsibility, etc. They have no access to the location of the guns. We routinely change the password, as well.)

He and I both know how to assemble and load a weapon in under 1 minute, including opening the safes. We have had to perform that act once in our lives, and it's something I'll never forget.

I was sitting in my living room of my older house late one night with a book when I saw a face in the glass inches away from me. I calmly said to my husband, "Go get your gun." He nonchalantly stood, went to the place where our guns were kept and went out the back door and apprehended the guy, who was trying to steal our neighbor's car. (An elderly couple with very little English.) I called 911 during all of this, and we later found out that that man was a part of a home invasion ring.

My husband takes routine exams to test his ability to fire his weapon safely. He also has to undergo psychological exams periodically, as he has a license to carry a concealed weapon, and that's the law here. I think that should be the law ANY TIME a gun is purchased. You should not be able to sell guns on eBay. You should not be able to sell guns at gun shows. You should not be able to put an ad in the paper and sell a gun to someone.

For the love of Mike, you can't buy CIGARETTES without regulation controlling their sale, but guns - the easiest weapon to take a life - can be sold to your neighbor without so much as a by your leave?

I got into a very friendly, yet emotional debate about guns last night with a lovely girl in school at Oxford. I'm not sure what her definition of "gun control" is, but I will tell you this: it's too late to do away with guns, and it has been since Leatherstocking stalked his first elk. Guns are a part of our culture, because we were founded on people who had to fend for themselves. (And ask the people sitting on their roofs in New Orleans how far we've come.) If you outlaw all guns (and note: I FIRMLY BELIEVE that no citizens needs an automatic weapon. NO ONE.) you'll just take them away from regular people who hunt for sport, or enjoy going to the shooting range. Criminals will still have them. Which... the point is to take them away from criminals, yes?

But here's the thing: it's NOT about guns. It isn't. Well, not completely. It's about (as Kita mentioned in her post earlier) MENTAL HEALTH CARE. It's about rage and violence and depression and mental illness. You ask ANYONE living in London if taking guns away meant no one is hurt/attacked/injured/killed any more. Guess what? There's a knife-stabbing every day. EVERY. DAY. People who want to kill, will. It may take them longer, it may take ingenuity, but they will.

The crazed man that destroyed the Federal building in Oklahoma City didn't use a gun.

The problem is how we find and treat people with mental illness.

Case in point, and I'll leave the rest for you to discuss, should you feel so inclined: Charles Whitman. Charles Whitman was a model citizen (aren't they all?), an altar boy, never in trouble, an Eagle Scout, and a sharpshooter for the Marines. Charles Whitman told his doctor that he was feeling "low" after his parents' divorce and hadn't been feeling well. He also told his doctor that he thought about "climbing the Tower [bell tower at the University of Texas campus in Austin] and shooting a bunch of people."

His doctor laughed, clapped him on the back, and told him he needed to go on a hunting trip and "unwind."

He shot with deadly aim and killed 23 people (some died later of complications), and wounded 20 more. He then turned the gun on himself. Later, an autopsy revealed a MASSIVE brain tumor, most likely the cause of both his depression and uncontrolled rage. Also, his father beat him without mercy as he grew up. I wonder if that contributed to his rage? Hmmmmm.

MENTAL HEALTH. We're sadly lacking in its care here. Ask anyone trying to find a mental health care professional how successful they've been. I'll be upfront. I've been through 4 in the past year (for my son) and I've yet to find someone that will sit in a chair across from me and/or my son and just LISTEN. Or even talk! Instead, I get to pay a large fee and be handed paperwork that was obviously printed from the internet. 3. 3 different therapists.

This is about our ABYSMAL health care in this country, how we don't really care about getting people better, because there is MONEY TO BE MADE off of Wellbutrin, etc. Pills generate money without wasting doctor's time. Doctors don't like seeing ADHD patients, for example, because the exams take longer. I've had a doctor admit that to me. They can see 4 patients in the place of my son. Our insurance companies, our public perceptions of mental illness, our ability to CARE ABOUT and NOT DEMONIZE those that are ill are failing us as a society.

Guns just give the ill a quicker route to follow through on what they'd do anyway. As I mentioned in Kita's post, a determined killer will use anything, even if it's a #10 can of beans to the head. Or in the case of a mother here with postpartum depression, a flagstone rock from her garden to the skull of her three children. Or Andrea Yates with her bathtub.

These people are SICK and they need care. But our government doesn't have a system set up to find them, treat them, help them, keep them from harming themselves or others. (just ask any of the mental health care workers who were powerless to keep Andrea Yates from going home the SECOND TIME she was admitted for depression. Why her husband wasn't jailed as an accomplice...)

Yes, guns shouldn't be so easy to get a hold of. But they're not the problem. Just like Goth music and violent videogames weren't the cause of Columbine, or military training wasn't Whitman's problem. Saying guns are the problem here will just act as a deepening of our heads in the sand, imo. We need an overhaul to our health care system. God knows we have the money. (We just spend it on the wrong things, don't we?)

[/rant]

[ETA] And now we know who the killer was. Or may be one of many. My heart goes out to the victims families, those poor, bewildered people.

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Comments

( 55 comments — Leave a comment )
brandil
Apr. 17th, 2007 02:43 pm (UTC)
I'm going to step up and rant too. President Bush stood up yesterday and defended our right to bear arms. The Second Amendment. When that asshole was fired from the networks last week for saying abominable things President Bush did NOT stand up and defend the FIRST Amendment. Personally, I think the first is more important than the second and that why they were ratified in that order.

Ok, so it was much of a rant, more of a pointing something out.

And yes, no one outside of the military, SWAT, FBI, ie law enforcement of some sort should have access to automatic weapons.
stoney321
Apr. 17th, 2007 02:46 pm (UTC)
I COMPLETELY AGREE that the First Ammendment far outweighs the second - it's certainly more important to my life than the Second. (Also, the Second Ammendment is about our right to protect ourselves, and about a regulated militia. It's not about some yahoo in the mountain's right to build an arsenal of automatics and Glocks.)

There's no need for automatic rifles/handguns. Also, they're incredibly inaccurate and dangerous. I've shot a semi-automatic before and it scared the life out of me.
sdwolfpup
Apr. 17th, 2007 02:46 pm (UTC)
I agree completely with your rant. I haven't been able to put together any adequate thoughts, so thank you for doing it for me.
sdwolfpup
Apr. 17th, 2007 02:47 pm (UTC)
Also, I say "rant," but I don't really see it as a rant. I should've just said "with your post."
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fiveandfour
Apr. 17th, 2007 03:03 pm (UTC)
I have some private colleges as clients and one of the insurance carriers we use puts on free seminars on topics of interest to colleges to help them manage their risks. About 3 months ago, the colleague who also works on these clients with me and I started getting mailers about a seminar (being held today) on the topic of mental health issues and how they are the #1 risk that colleges face due to the variety of ways that a mentally ill student can create problems/cause claims. Plus claims from these issues are generally the most expensive to investigate, litigate and settle.

We kept getting mailers and e-mails and even more mailers and e-mails until finally we looked at one another and said, "Is the universe trying to tell us something or what?" Because this insurance carrier puts on seminars all the time, but we've had at most a notice and a reminder about every other one.
I guess the universe was trying to tell us something.

Just last week-end my family was talking about mental health problems during dinner. My husband is driven nuts by homeless people when he sees them begging and has been so strident in his disgust that he's starting to pass on those feelings to my daughter, but I feel more compassion and was pointing out that in Oregon there is no safety net AT ALL for mentally ill people who can't get help due to lack of health care. What do people do who are in the vicious cycle of not being able to keep a job that entitles them to health care so they can get treatment and thus be stable enough to keep working and keep up their care? If they have no family, or if they've disappeared from their family, then what? They "self medicate", I suppose. There are no other options for these people, at least in Oregon, so why the surprise at the number of people walking around talking to themselves, gesticulating wildly, or the people at the side of the road sitting there, zoned out.

I have other thoughts on guns and violence and how our culture is weighted to not think of violence as obscene as other cultures do, but I absolutely agree that one of the great underpinnings of many ills in this country - including the misuse of weapons - is our abominable health care system (which is built on a foundation of making a profit for third parties, not on treating patients) and it's even worse treatment for the mentally ill.
stoney321
Apr. 17th, 2007 03:09 pm (UTC)
Oh, absolutely you're right about our culture not seeing violence as anything obscene, yet a nursing mother is abhorrent. *shakes head*

Sex/human bodies aren't allowed/are disgusting in the US, yet we glory in their destruction. (And don't fund stem cell research to fix them, ANOTHER RANT FOR ANOTHER DAY.)

And you're right on the lack of mental health care being an underlying problem for so many of our societies ills. I'm having a hard time getting treatment for my son (and he has a biological disorder, not a psychological one) and we have AMAZING health care insurance. It's how we as a country view mental health care as something to talk about in whispers and give ridiculous names to facilites. "Challenger" or "Whispering Hills" that sort of bullshit.

It wasn't long ago (the fucking 70s!!) that we were still locking up our mentally retarded citizens and keeping them away from the public. My autistic sister STILL has no real long-term care that we deem acceptable for the time when my parents are no longer here to provide for her. DISGUSTING.
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sweptawaybayou
Apr. 17th, 2007 03:16 pm (UTC)
Word.

Thank you.
stoney321
Apr. 17th, 2007 03:58 pm (UTC)
Boy, I'm just waiting for people to jump down my throats. (You know they will!)

<3
chantal87
Apr. 17th, 2007 03:20 pm (UTC)
I'll have to say that I could not agree with you more.
B. and I have made the decision not to have guns in our home. (We neither hunt nor shoot skeet)
I would never tell anyone else how to live their lives or what they can or cant have in their homes.

I feel ya on the mental health issues.
All and all I just wanted to say hey
<3
stoney321
Apr. 17th, 2007 03:58 pm (UTC)
HEY! So, in the interest of education, how does Germany fare on the mental health front? Have you noticed any great differences? Or is it even worse (as in: sweeping it under the rug)

I remember seeing not ONE homeless person in Germany. And then I got off the train in Austria and went, "Oh. Here's where they all are." *g*
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a2zmom
Apr. 17th, 2007 05:05 pm (UTC)
I absolutely agree with you on the poor excuse for health care in this country. I can't tell you how many people I know with various mental health issues and they can't get decent care.

As far as guns, way too many people own them in this country who don't know the first thing about gun safety. (My m-i-l, for instance.) I wish there was a way to change the pervasive glorification of violence in America, but instead all that seems to be happening is we're exporting it.
stoney321
Apr. 18th, 2007 12:44 am (UTC)
Gah, I missed a few comments, I apologize.

Mental health needs to be under the blanket of regular health care, dammit. We want to rush the HPV vaccine for our daughters (which, prove there aren't harmful side effects in humans, and I'm all on board) but people with disabilities, disorders can't get care?

And I agree that too many people have guns that shouldn't. (I also think there are too many people with kids that shouldn't, haha.)
darlas_mom
Apr. 17th, 2007 05:28 pm (UTC)
I've read both yours and Kita's posts, and you are both made of awesome.

I have so many friends with mental health issues...anxiety disorder, depression; I even know one woman suffering from schizoepilepsy. I do not use that word, "suffering," lightly. Mental illness (and it fucking IS an illness, Tom Cruise!) is serious, and almost no one wants to see that. I've seen people hallucinate, I've seen people hyperventilate in terror, I've seen people sob uncontrollably for hours and hours, I've seen people attempt to kill themselves, and almost none of them were able to tell anyone why. It's just the way their brain chemistry is. Without proper treatment, they can't do anything about it. No one can tell me these people are not suffering. I would never believe them if they tried.

Mental illness doesn't just harm the people who have it. It harms the people around them. Sometimes emotionally (after seeing the above things that I have seen, I know I've never been the same since), sometimes physically (thirty-three people died yesterday, for God's sake, and how many others were injured?).

Do healthy people want to go out and shoot up a school? No. I'm sorry, but they don't.

Is a sick person still sick if they can't get a gun? Yes. And no matter what most of our shallow country thinks, it's everybody's problem.

Interesting thing that shows exactly how fucked-up American priorities are: I had a harder time buying an R-rated movie ticket the other day than I had buying a huge fucking knife from a catalog a few years ago. I got both things infinitely easier than I got Medicaid to pay for my shrink.

We really, honestly care more about kids not seeing Rose McGowan's tits than we do about controlling weapons or making sure everyone who needs it gets proper healthcare.

I already had the healthcare costs vs accessibility rant on Kita's journal, so I'm not going to have it again, but...God! It's like our entire country can be summed up on a bumper sticker: "If you're not outraged, you're not paying attention."
stoney321
Apr. 18th, 2007 12:45 am (UTC)
I missed this comment and another, I'm so sorry to not respond earlier!

I can't say anything better than your comment, so I'll just hold my fist up in solidarity. Yes, to everything you mentioned.
lettered
Apr. 17th, 2007 05:58 pm (UTC)
Thanks for making this post.

I was kind of taken aback by some of the comments about gun control I was reading--though it's the response that often comes out of something like this. I didn't really know how to articulate how I thought about it because I do, very strongly, believe there should be restrictions on who gets to buy guns, and on which kind of gun can be bought, but I also very strongly believe in the right to bear arms. You and Kita hit the heart of the matter.

I actually worked very closely with the woman who helped get Andrea Yates' conviction appealed; I know a lot about the case (and if you ever want to know more, too, I highly recommend Are You There Alone?, by same woman). Anyway, it really, really opened my eyes--that people could see the things Yates did and said and not realize she needed help. Especially after she drowned all her children--I think people want to believe in Evil, because it's so much easier and more clear cut than things like depression.

Guns are part of the problem, because it simplifies and multiplies death. Other weapons most people use in crimes like this, knives and such, are far less efficient. But as you say, in the end they're not the root of the problem. But people like Andrea Yates are only part of the problem, too, because even if you killed her off, there'll be another eventually. Of course not all people can be helped and of course there will always be murder and senseless death, because some of us are sick. But if we addressed that sickness, as you say, we could do more to prevent it.
stoney321
Apr. 17th, 2007 07:22 pm (UTC)
Joy, I didn't know you were familiar with that woman! (The Yates lived two blocks from my in laws, and Mr. Yates worked with my FiL. So... yeah. A little familiar with her story. It's MIND BOGGLING that she had her kids, her in laws that were ill and al the problems that people KNEW ABOUT, yet... I still believe her husband - who only gave her two hours to herself every week, and that was for grocery shopping - should have been in collusion with her in the murder of those children, because he also is the one that talked her OUT of staying in a mental health facility, because he didn't want to have to care for their kids/his parents. GAH.)

And I agree with you: we can't catch EVERYONE. But shouldn't we at least TRY? *hugs you*
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demonqueen666
Apr. 17th, 2007 06:59 pm (UTC)
Your rant/post is very informed and apt. Gun control is not really the issue here, nor is it really the problem.

Honestly, I feel kind of vaguely ill that some people are trying to bring up the gun control argument now. When I heard about the shooting yesterday, a lot of thoughts went through my head: "How terrible. How shocking. Who did it? Why? I feel so sorry for all those people and their families. I hope the injured make it through okay."

Note how "See, this is why we need to make sure people can't get their hands on guns!" is nowhere on that list.

Gun control was not even on my mind. It just didn't even occur to me. Aren't there more important things to think about than finding some hot button issue to get all enraged over?
stoney321
Apr. 17th, 2007 07:45 pm (UTC)
"Aren't there more important things to think about than finding some hot button issue to get all enraged over?"

But then we might actually FIX something, you know? Gah.
ruric
Apr. 17th, 2007 07:01 pm (UTC)
You ask ANYONE living in London if taking guns away meant no one is hurt/attacked/injured/killed any more. Guess what? There's a knife-stabbing every day. EVERY. DAY. People who want to kill, will. It may take them longer, it may take ingenuity, but they will.

Um...yes...and no. *g*

I'm honestly not trying to yank your chain because I suspect we agree and are on the same page with many many issues. Not many people in the UK have guns. As you say it's part of the US culture not the UK.

Still we get people who have legal access to guns who go nuts - Hungerford in 1987 where 14 were killed and memorably Dunblane in 1996 where a gunman shot 16 schoolchildren and their teacher. So although we don't have as many guns we're not immune. And yes - we have an increasing number of drive by and gang related shootings. Criminals will *always* get their hands on guns.

And as you say the current high profile media coverage over here is on the number of stabbings taking place. Knives appear to be the weapon of choice. In London the high profile headlines are about the numbers of teens (predominantly young black men) who are being murdered in what is generally thought to be gang related killings. It's one of those situations where there are many possible causes and many possible solutions but involves government, communities, churches, leaders, everyone pulling together to address social exclusion, alienation, education and providing people with the hope of a decent future.

I think the only place we differ is that I have a certain resigned acceptance that if you have a culture (the US or even the limited access to guns in the UK) where guns exist then we are going to get gun related killings. It's not the fault of the guns, or of the vast majority who safely and responsibly bear arms.

Although mental health does count (hugely) it's also about ease of access and being able to reach out your hand and pick one up.

I imagine, although god alone knows I have no experience, that if one is going to go on a rampage it is somewhat easier to pick up an automatic weapon and randomly mow people down that it would be to pick up a knife or sword and get up close and personal and damage the same amount of people.

It's tragic and scary and frustrating and really - it's incumbent upon everyone to step up to the plate and do something about it. It's about leading by example, and demonstrating social responsibility - recognising that things aren't always 'somebody else's problem' but that we can all make a difference - even a small one.

Uh sorry. Social responsibility is a bit of a hot spot with me.

But yes. And yes again to your post. Good points your raised.
gillo
Apr. 17th, 2007 07:12 pm (UTC)
Oddly enough I referenced Hungerford and Dunblane just before redaing your reply. I'm not convinced anything much can stop someone that disturbed and determined. But if they can't get guns, they cause less damage - remember the guy with a Samurai sword in Cheltenham? If hed had a gun he'd have taken out all the people present, not just the one poor bloke he did kill.

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gillo
Apr. 17th, 2007 07:06 pm (UTC)
I'm in favour of continued gun control in my own country. We have an incredibly high population density and we don't need more people armed. Stabbings aren't "either/or" - people wouldn't stop using knives if they had guns, we'd just get more shootings on top of the stabbings. Our murder rate is relatively low, and I'm in favour of anything that makes it harder for that to change.

But your country's different. You can't shove the cat back in the bag - it's out and will scratch anyone who tries. In my country the odds of an intruder such as you describe being armed are slim enough that there'd be no need to go armed to apprehend him. In yours that's just not true.

I do feel you're right about laws controlling who can buy a gun. Why is it so hard to get liquor and so easy to buy a gun in some places? But I don't think laws would have done much to stop this guy. We had Dunblane and Hungerford here, despite our laws.

Would mental health have helped anyone identify the misfit who suddenly breaks out in suicidal homicidal rage? I'm not sure. But it wcould certainly have saved a lot of lives in other incidents.
stoney321
Apr. 17th, 2007 07:44 pm (UTC)
I think about the population density where you are, and how frustrated that must make the inhabitants. I'm fortunate to live in an area where there is loads of free space, and I think that may contribute to the mindset of "needing a gun," if that makes some sort of sense?

This whole tragedy is just horrible, no matter what the cause, you know?
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sangueuk
Apr. 17th, 2007 08:32 pm (UTC)
posting and running!
Hey, Stoney, I’m a little nervous commenting on this subject among so many Americans but I feel I have to speak up and I’ve found my reply has got so wordy I’ve posted something similar to this on my lj even though I swore I’d think about it more deeply and evenly – oh well – that isn’t my style…

I understand it’s part of your Rights and Freedoms etc and that can’t change but I want to remind you of something; America’s relationship with firearms isn’t good publicity for you guys. Whatever the restrictions - when I travelled to the States I found it hard to forget that anyone, just anyone could be carrying a gun. I find it scary that policemen routinely carry guns. It’s plain weird. This morning I heard an account on the radio from an English student. When he studied in the states, at the age of twenty he wasn’t allowed to buy alcohol but was allowed to buy a firearm off another student, advertised on a notice board. He didn’t take it up. I know you aren’t advocating this; your post is lucid, well-argued and highly reasonable. I would expect nothing less from my beloved Stoney.

In particular, I agree with what you say about mental health issues and that these should be addressed. Who’s to say that there will always be ‘obvious’ reasons why a person would kill or maim someone; we aren’t always talking about an ‘outsider’ are we? Yesterday’s tragic incident mustn’t take away from the fact that loads of people get shot every day in the US. While you can’t legislate against someone running amok - these horrors happen in many countries including the UK as has been pointed out by other posters - thing is, however tight the law and restrictions and however many psychological tests you have to undergo I meet a bunch of people most days I wouldn’t want to get into a lift with let alone suspect that they might be carrying a gun when they might just decide shooting or waving it would be the appropriate thing to sort out a given problem. I’m not responsible enough to carry a gun – I can barely be trusted to park my car without graunching it. Who is? My Mum? My Boss? My hormone-racked offspring?

And another thing – the trouble with guns is that people carrying them might just intervene in situations and cause further problems - people who aren’t trained to negotiate first. What if other students had had guns on them? Who’s to say they would have helped by ‘taking out’ the gunman? Who’s to say that the Hero wouldn’t have missed and then got blown away too?

I have to go think all this through for a couple of days but I’m thrilled we don’t have guns here. People do the shooting, not guns, but the two are rarely separated. I haven’t heard of a gun running amok on its own yet, have you? It reminds me of the furore over savage dogs which wells up each time a child is murdered by a Pit Bull-like dog. Indignant breeders say it’s the bad owners not the bad dogs and it’s not fair to blame the dogs. Yet the dogs are, in many ways, separate beings and we could argue that maybe, one or two, they can’t help themselves or be trusted in certain situations because we can’t anticipate how they will react to an unexpected stimulus. If there aren’t any around, they won’t savage toddlers. Toddlers won’t be safe from everything else in the world, but at least Grandma won’t be tossing and turning at night ruing the day she let that cute little puppy into the house. Guns might as well be feather dusters until someone picks them up, and just as if you picked up a feather duster you might feel the urge to prance around and tickle someone – I know that’s how I feel when I hold one – picking up a gun might cause your inner state to change in a way you hadn’t anticipated? Not everyone. Not me. But definitely people I’ve been in lifts with lately…yes there are knives, people can punch you or hypnotise you but the immediacy of those methods of assault might temper an attack on an innocent bystander. You can’t duck a bullet.
stoney321
Apr. 17th, 2007 08:50 pm (UTC)
Re: posting and running!
I think a lot of your fears (and the fears of others about Americans and Guns) is that our media Looooooooves to make it seem like there's a car jacking every minute. That there's a home invasion/rape/robbery/attack by gunpoint all the time. But that's not the case.

You've been here. Were you attacked by gun? Did you see an attack by gun? I don't recall your having said so, if that's the case.

But like Gillo said above, the cat's out of the bag, so to speak, and we aren't likely to go back to a gunless society of Calvinists. What's to be done, imo, is to address the ease of their purchase, in regards to guns. In regards to MENTAL HEALTH, which I feel is the REAL issue here, not simply "guns are bad," we are doing a cocked-up job at helping people here. And that's ultimately the point I want to make.

And it pleases me to no end to know that you feel safe enough in my LJ that you can say a differing opinion than mine. Because I've read every word, and while I may not see eye to eye with you, I'm grateful that you feel and act the way you do.
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brutti_ma_buoni
Apr. 17th, 2007 08:37 pm (UTC)
No, and yes
Mmm, we'll just have to disagree about guns, I think. Londoners have no right to bear arms and I'm very, very comfortable with that, no matter what other bad shit happens here.

But you couldn't be more right about healthcare systems not taking mental illness seriously. Whether it's at the huge, spectacular end of the scale like this, or the everyday misery of depression, ADHD and other chronic problems, it's still never quite a priority. Like because there's no visible broken limb or tumour there's no urgency, so you can just let things ride, and hope the problem goes away. Always a target for costcutting. Never a headline must-fix issue. I just wish I knew what it would take to get the issue taken seriously. This latest horror won't do it - it's already all about guns, not about treatment.

Bad day for everyone, I think.
stoney321
Apr. 17th, 2007 08:53 pm (UTC)
Re: No, and yes
I completely understand that not everyone will agree with me on guns, and I'm okay with that. Please know that I am not a gun-toting lover with a sticker on my car telling people they can have my gun when they pry it from my cold, dead hands, either. I'm all for STRICT MANDATES keeping them from most everyone. But getting rid of them entirely? I just don't believe that could happen here, so it's a moot point, imo.

I'm glad you feel safer in England without a firearm, and knowing your police don't have them. If that's working for your country, then I applaud it. Honestly.

And I completely agree with you on the bad day for everyone. My heart just aches for those poor parents of the students, and I choked up reading about those lovely professors putting themselves literally in the line of fire for their charges. So tragic and awful.
ljgould
Apr. 17th, 2007 09:34 pm (UTC)
I totally agree with you. Guns have become a part of our culture and the chances of getting them away from people are slim to none. I grew up on a ranch (here in Texas) and we had guns...however, we were taught how to use them and what they were for almost from the time we could walk. Like your husband, I have a carry concealed permit. Having said that, let me point out that I do not support the NRA nor do I believe that anyone should be able to buy a gun. I would be delighted by stringent gun control. However, that would not keep guns out of the hands of individuals who wanted to use them for illegal purposes.

You are absolutely right when you point out that the problem is mental illness. All too often people fail to identify problems that can escalate into acts of rage like the one at Virginia Tech. I sometimes think that this failure is a defence mechanism by school personnel that allows them to continue believing that "it won't/can't happen here". I teach in a graduate counseling program, and I can't tell you how many times I've heard school counseling students say that they don't need to learn about dysfunctional behavior because they'll never see it with children. WTF????

As a therapist, I would hope that this incident will put both gun control and mental health issues on the front burner so that we, as a nation, can put some programs in to effect that will limit the chances of this happening again. I don't expect that to happen, but I can hope.
stoney321
Apr. 17th, 2007 09:39 pm (UTC)
I'm so glad you chose to comment! And while I grew up in a home with NO guns (my dad said he's seen enough on his farm and in 'Nam) I knew all of my cousins that hunted were taught the awesome power those guns have, and how to not treat them lightly.

I also do not support the NRA, and I, too, am in favor of stringent gun control.

Have you really heard students say that?! That is the most WTF thing I've heard today!

And I'm with you. I hope this whole incident will shed some light on mental health. Thanks for putting in your two cents.
... - ljgould - Apr. 17th, 2007 09:54 pm (UTC) - Expand
... - stoney321 - Apr. 17th, 2007 09:59 pm (UTC) - Expand
entrenous88
Apr. 17th, 2007 09:53 pm (UTC)
All great points. I'm so in favor of gun control -- as I mentioned earlier, someone with a clean record should have nothing to fear from a few days to check her or his record and some mandatory training classes. But yes, we'll never be rid of guns in this country, and I can understand why some people decide to have guns in their homes.

I agree with you that no civilian needs an automated rifle. I'd also say there is zero call for anyone without a military occupation to have armor piercing bullets.

I worry about hunters, since that's more of a problem in the northeast, with combinations of young people "trying out" guns in the presence of adults who are drinking heavily.

But there's no reason someone willing to train herself or himself on firearm use should not have a gun -- I mean, it's supported in our Bill of Rights -- and though I don't think I will ever have a gun myself, I understand why people might make that choice. As long as owners are informed, as long as weapons are kept securely away from children, I have no problem with gun ownership.
stoney321
Apr. 17th, 2007 09:58 pm (UTC)
The hunter's paragraph - I wonder if the higher population densities don't contribute to the danger, too, as some UKers and I have discussed with their lack of guns...

I'm really having a struggle mentally about allowing my son to hunt. I have no objections to my husband hunting - I know he takes care to do a good job with one shot, and he doesn't "trophy hunt" or waste the meat, but my son? My tender boy? I don't know. I'll let him choose when he's old enough to understand the ramifications, I think.

And we're completely on the same page about controlling who gets guns, and how quickly. I mean, you need a gun RIGHT NOW? Riiiiight. There's a red flag, right there.

And as to armor piercing bullets/kevlar, there's no need aside from SWAT or military to have that. None. Ditto on automatic weapons. Those are people killers. You don't HUNT with those.
floweringjudas
Apr. 17th, 2007 10:30 pm (UTC)
Most of the people who came to the theater today had on Tech gear. A lot of them were pale-looking VT students.

I am so pissed off and I am VERY GLAD that you wrote this post. And I agree with you.
stoney321
Apr. 17th, 2007 10:49 pm (UTC)
First off I am SO GLAD YOU ARE OKAY. (I couldn't remember which school you were at and panicked in my house, looking for Sophie's mom's phone number, actually! Then I remembered you had it listed online, ha.)

HUGS TO YOU. Squishy, bone creaking hugs.
midnightsjane
Apr. 18th, 2007 12:24 am (UTC)
As with some other commenters, I'm a little leery of giving my 2 cents worth of opinion here about something that happened in a country other than my own, but for what it's worth I am in complete agreement about the inadequacies of the health care system for those with mental illnesses; it's true in Canada as much as it is in the USA. There are a lot of people wandering around the streets of my city who were turfed out of the big Psych hospital a few years ago when the government decided that we should focus on treating people in the community rather than in institutions. The trouble was, the community support systems just weren't adequate for the demands, and a lot of sick people fell through the cracks and ended up on the streets. It's tragic and horrible and a waste of lives.
That being said, I'm really very glad that guns are difficult to come by here, and that we have gun control laws. Even though those who really want a gun can somehow get one, most of the violence here is by someone wielding a knife or something similar..and that makes it more likely that a whole bunch of people won't be killed by a single attacker.
It's true that it's people who kill people, but having easy access to a gun makes it a whole lot more likely that someone who loses control will use one than someone who doesn't have that access.
I am eternally grateful that I didn't have a gun in my house at one point when I was splitting up with my husband, because there was a moment when I would have used it, and he'd now be my late instead of my ex husband, and I'd be in jail.
My heart breaks for all those families.
stoney321
Apr. 18th, 2007 12:42 am (UTC)
Please know that in my LJ, I welcome ALL opinions that are well crafted and from the heart, even if they differ from mine. If I open up a debate, that means I'm willing to listen, even if you're not from here, have a differing POV, etc. *squish*

I think the mental illness perception is a Western Civ issue, so I'm not surprised to hear from other countries that it's woefully treated/cared for/talked about.

I wish the US would adopt stricter laws so the people that aren't mentally/emotionally able to appreciate and respect the awesome power that guns hold cannot obtain them.
... - midnightsjane - Apr. 18th, 2007 07:16 am (UTC) - Expand
beanbeans
Apr. 18th, 2007 01:38 pm (UTC)
Hi, Stoney. I'm still feeling numb, and as if this tragedy is to new and raw and, as if there's not enough info yet for me to speak about it intelligibly. But I thought about this post all night last night, and all this morning.

I just had to tell you how strongly I agree with your point that what we need to focus on here is why people who plainly and painfully obviously need help are overlooked, are not taken seriously, or are not getting the help they need. As more and more info about the shooter comes out, it is clear that once again, this kind of violence never happens "out of nowhere". Someone will have seen or heard such a person speaking about violence, or acting violently; this kind of act comes from great pain, instability, desperation, and illness.

I couldn't agree more that what we should be focusing on is how, in the future, we can begin to take more seriously the child who is depressed. The kid who bullies. The kid who consistently uses anger or aggression to make himself/herself heard or seen.

Gah, I'm getting on a soapbox, and I didn't want to do that. I could write a few thousand more words here, but I won't. I just wanted to thank you, from the heart, for what you said here, for being insightful, and for responding in a way that demands help for people who are clearly, desperately in need of help. That is indeed the issue that our nation needs to address, not to place blame for this event or others past, but so that we can move forward in a way the both prevents this from happening yet again, and brings more healing and mental health support to those in this country who need it.
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