I am writing this article not to divide us but to bring us together. The time for debate and hoping and praying that these shootings will end is over. It’s time to take action. Since the fatal school shooting at Columbine in 1999 there have been 25 fatal school shootings and over 200 school shootings. That’s more than one fatal school shooting a year since Columbine. This has to stop. Our children should not have to go to school wondering if today is the day someone is going to show up with a gun and start shooting.
There are very few people who would disagree with what I just said, but what we can’t seem to agree on is HOW to make this happen so we debate and we debate and we post on Facebook and yet the school shootings keep happening. This is my call to action. This is a complex, multi-faceted problem and has more than one solution. I am not an expert but here are my thoughts on how we can fix this. I am not asking you to agree with all or even one of these points, but I am asking you to stop talking and do something. Find the way that works for you and do one thing toward bringing some change. This has to stop. We owe it to our children to give them a safer world. Here are some ways I see we can make a difference:
Better mental health services – We spend 6 percent of our annual budget on mental health services. Mental health workers are under resourced and under paid. People with mental health do not have access to the care they need. Call your lawmaker and ask for more funding and more impactful programs. Donate to NAMI that National Alliance on mental Illness.
Better resources for teachers – Again we spend 8% of our annual budget on education. I do not think we should use part of that money to buy our teachers guns, instead, let’s give them resources, more teachers and programs that will allow them to teach and proactively address those students who are at risk. If you want to find out how to support teachers then visit the National Education Association.
Better resources for at risk families – The department of health and services receives 5% of the federal budget. We need better programs and funding so that families that are struggling have resources to help them with a child who is at risk. And we as a community need to do a better job of reaching out to ask risk kids and families. If you see a child who is struggling, talk to them. Talk to their family. Can you provide a resource or point them to a resource? A simple act of kindness can make a difference in a kids life. Support United Way or Big Brothers Big Sisters.
Finally, I’m going to say it, I do believe we need more regulations around guns. So here’s what I don’t understand. We are all willing to be inconvenienced and have our privacy violated when we fly. We submit ourselves to searches, scans and the indignity of walking barefoot through an airport so that a terrorist doesn’t blow up our plane. Yet, when we even talk about having a waiting period for guns or more strict background checks people become indignant. Just hang with me here. What if, what if waiting an extra four weeks would mean that the wrong person wouldn’t get a gun. What if that meant that 1000 lives were saved. What if 100 lives were saved, 10 lives, 1 life. What if that one life was your child. And people want to argue that the criminals will just find a way around the rule. Well, they might, but so do the terrorists and that doesn’t stop us from trying. I support Sandyhook Promise which is promoting common sense legislation from a multi-faceted perspective.
Whatever the case, whether you agree or disagree about my analysis, I hope you will take action. Letting these school and mass shootings continue is unacceptable. We are working to fight against so much that we can’t control, disease, natural disasters, but I believe we have the power to stop this senseless violence but we can’t do it through debate. The time for action is now. Stop the cycle. #neveragain