Sunday, December 16, 2012

Twenty Seven Souls.

The seeds of this post started yesterday.  I posted a snarky comment on Facebook that the teachers and police who saved the children of Sandy Hook and in some instances gave their lives in doing so, were all 'union thugs'.  I got unfriended and berated about being insensitive and political.  Well after that little dust-up I posted the following:

Okay so apparently my snarky post about teachers being "union thugs" was not well received. 

Let me be clear, yesterday teachers, who as an institution are routinely demonized, saved the lives of several hundred children. Almost daily teachers are asked to do the impossible. They are painted by some people as lazy, stupid, uncaring, just in it for the money (ha!). 

I don't have an answer to 

gun violence, I don't have an answer to mental health, except that mental health treatment needs to be cheap and accessible.

I just think while as a nation we are examining the tragedy, and sloganeering and memeing our way to the next tragedy, we owe it to the teachers who care for our kids 8 hours a day 5 days a week, to be respectful of them and the work they do.

Yesterday I didn't have a ready answer to gun violence and mental health. Since then, I've been doing a lot of thinking about the tragedy, guns, violence and the culture of gun fetishism in this country.  I've also been thinking mental illness, the dirty little secret of America.  

The gun violence visited on Sandy Hook and Newtown was quite possibly the most heinous thing I had ever heard of.  I've been to crime scenes with dead kids. A lot of dead kids, but never 20 and never kids the exact same age as my youngest.  

You get jaded doing my job, and things like death, sexual assaults, burnings, beatings, starvings, cagings, wear on your soul, but you harden against it and go on. Friday I was in tears most of the afternoon.  I take the title Child Protection Specialist very seriously and on Friday we as a nation failed to protect our kids yet again. 

Let's talk about guns. 

Now is the time to do so.  A recent survey showed the 71 % of the NRA! support limits on gun ownership including background checks. This via Think Progress shows that 87% of NRA members believe the roll of the 2nd Amendment goes hand in hand with keeping guns out of criminals hands. 

The assault weapons ban and  the Brady Bill need to be reintroduced and re-signed post haste. Internet limits on ammo sales and the gun show loop hole need to end now.  We need gun owners to be as thoroughly licensed and tested as car owners. This is not difficult, it takes will and according to what I've read today, the will of the people is to do this.

Today Representative Louie Gohmert (R-Dumfuckmont TX)* opined that he wished the principal had an M-4 to kill the shooter first. This sort of magical cowboy thinking runs rampant on the right and in the gun fetishist mindset. 

They often refer to the fact that the there weren't school shootings when they were kids and often say this is because people had guns at school.  This is patently false. If you were in kindergarten in the 50's 60's 70's 80's EVER, did your teacher have a gun? No? Shocking. 

The reason there were no school shootings back in the day is that nobody had assault weapons with extended magazines. Those that did maybe had a souvenir from World War Two, Korea or Viet Nam.  You couldn't buy them at the fucking Wal Mart or the corner gun shop. 

Don't come at me with the argument that guns, conceal carry etc, make you safe.  Again false. The deterrent factor is a myth. On the streets of Chicago, New York, LA and ever place, even in my Quad Cities, there are gang members armed to the teeth and they go packing and shoot each other every day. Every day. Every day. The fact that a rival may have a gun doesn't stop them from anything.  

Come to think of it, my work is a perfect example of this.  We are not allowed to carry a gun on our person in our cars etc.  Yet every day my colleagues and I go to armed neighborhoods to investigate child abuse.  You can say I chose my job and you would be correct, but the next time you vilify our jobs, remember that fact. 

There are those that say we need our guns to protect us from tyranny.  Blogger Eric Garland, completely destroys the myth of overthrowing the government here. Its not going to happen.  Someone postulated to me that we need guns in case the Chinese try to take the debt we owe them by force. Red Dawn much? That Army  you think you can over throw? Yeah if the Chinese come calling they'll get knocked back to the Ming dynasty. 

So really beyond recreational shooting and hunting, why do we need guns? Police need them to keep the peace.  The military needs them to protect our shores, but really that's about it. Until Bambi comes packing TOW missiles and anti aircraft guns, a shot gun, or bow and arrow should be fine. 

Mental Illness is America's Dirty Little Secret

As of this writing, no one is saying for sure that the shooter at Sandy Hook had a diagnosed mental illness.  Maybe he did maybe he didn't.  The fact is that there is an epidemic of mental illness that has gone untreated since the 80's.  St. Ronald Reagan severely restricted the funds for mental health, the result was that the mentally ill went to the streets or the prisons. 

Right now, almost 40 percent of my case load involves people with mental illness. Very few are getting the treatment they need. What I mentioned above about confronting guns in neighborhoods? That's a lot less scarier part of my job than walking into a home with a severely mentally ill and untreated person. 

People treat the mentally ill like mental illness is communicable.  Insurance companies fight paying for treatment.  The gutting of social services and mental health services by the government at every level is unconscionable.  These people are citizens, they have the same rights as you and I and they deserve better than scoffing and disdain. 

Let This Be The Last

There should never be another Sandy Hook.  We are a nation of laws. We are a nation of incredible resilience. We are a nation interconnected with each other in ways that most can't fathom.  Passing some common sense gun control, caring for our mentally ill are things that we can and should do.  

People use the words patriot so glibly these days.  I challenge everyone who reads this to be patriotic. Demand from your elected officials that guns are controlled and kept safe.  Demand that our mentally ill are treated, quickly and cheaply. 

27 Souls, 20 of them who would have been friends with my Rowan, demand no less. 

*Dumbfuckmont TX is south of Shiner and west of Houston

1 comment:

  1. Well done, Pat. I've been telling people within earshot about my line of work (logistics) and the requirements the US government places on people or companies who want to export firearms. Between the licensing for State or Defense and assuming you can even send it to the country you have in mind (rules govern which countries can get which firearms or ammo if at all), can you imagine if somebody had to go through as much to buy a gun domestically as they do if they wanted to export it?

    If it's good enough to prevent them from falling into the hands of people who don't like us overseas, shouldn't it be good enough to keep them out of the hands of people who would do us harm at home?