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Social Problems

When a community is suffering, taking action can help regain a sense of control and support the healing process.

Social problems. They are my reason for blogging on Patch: to identify a social problem and then invite our community to get involved and be part of a solution. Sadly, the social problem facing our community – rather, our country, right now needs no introduction. The tragic events that took place at Sandy Hook Elementary School on Friday morning will forever change the conversation.

When faced with adversity my method of coping is mobilization. What can I do to regain a sense of control? This week we are all left to ponder this question. How can we channel our heartache and anger into action? Is it because Newtown is so close to home that we are compelled to act? I don’t think so – the country is engaged in discussion like never before.   

There are many questions, and many facets to consider. But two areas scream for attention: how our society deals with mental illness and guns.

Mental Illness:
We face a mental health crisis in this country. Budgets are cut, and with the loss of funding go vital services. There is a disparity between the way insurance companies view general healthcare and behavioral health services; this allows payers to limit services for those seeking help for a mental illness. They impose limits on how much providers can be reimbursed too, so in in this part of the country most therapists don’t accept any insurance. People who have a mental illness are stigmatized, and this deters many from accessing services. Parents who seek help for their troubled children are chastised if medication is part of the treatment.

There are no easy answers. Let’s talk, listen and learn from each other. We need to take a close look at how our society deals with people who have a disease of the brain – a chemical imbalance. It will take work, but we can change the culture, and improve the care of those experiencing a mental illness.

Leadership from the National Alliance for Mental Illness (NAMI) Connecticut is going “on the road” to talk with residents throughout the state. This is an opportunity for community members to learn about what is happening in Connecticut to address the needs of those with mental illness, and to get involved on a grass roots level. Local NAMI chapters will host the meetings; a schedule can be found on NAMI CT’s calendar. Some dates are already scheduled (below), and more will be:

  • Fairfield NAMI: January 2, 2013, 7:30-9:00 pm. This meeting’s agenda includes a discussion of NAMI’s legislative priorities for 2013. More about the meeting is here.
  • Stamford/Greenwich NAMI: January 16, 2013. More info here.
  • NAMI Southeast (Norwich): February 6, 2013. More info here.
  • NAMI Windsor Locks (East Windsor): February 10, 2013. More info here.


Guns:
Let’s consider the facts. The Swiss-based Small Arms Survey found that in 2007 the United States had the highest gun ownership rate in the world: 88 guns per 100 people, or 270 million altogether.[i] When countries experiencing high murder rates by drug cartels (Mexico, Venezuela, Colombia and Brazil) were excluded, the survey reported that the US has the highest rate of homicide by guns. Firearms killed 31,347 people in 2009 – that is 17.7% of all injury deaths that year.[ii]

Gun control helps. The states with high gun ownership and weak gun laws experienced the most gun deaths.[iii] No matter how “gun enthusiasts” may spin it, the numbers speak for themselves: tougher gun laws save lives.

What justification is there for civilians to own military style weapons and high capacity magazines? What rational person would deny the importance of background checks and gun registration? When Congress resumes session in January, Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-California) intends to introduce a bill to renew the ban on assault weapons. These are common sense measures. 

The gun lobby is powerful. Suggestions to arm teachers and implement high-tech security features in our schools and public areas are based on the premise that the current state of gun ownership and (lack of) regulation is acceptable. No longer can our society acquiesce to gun violence perpetrated against the innocent. This is our call to be part of the solution. The nation is ready – now is the time for action.

Contact government officials:
Let your elected leaders know what you think. Connecticut Against Gun Violence, www.CAGV.org, is leading the charge on gun control in the state. They are working with Connecticut legislators and on January 9th a Bill will be introduced to enhance gun safety. Click on the “Legislative Action Center” on the right side of their home page, under Take Action. Once you enter your home address this link will connect you to your local, state and federal representatives in government. Since Senator-elect Chris Murphy hasn’t taken office yet, he is not included. He can be reached here, at his Congressional office. After he takes his senatorial seat that link will close and he will be listed on the CAGV’s Legislative Action Center too.

Other organizations that are actively pursuing gun control:


Several on-line petitions are circulating:

  • Immediately address the issue of gun control through the introduction of legislation in Congress. We the People: sign the petition
  • Gun Control. Now. Sign On (an arm of Move On): sign the petition
  • Increase the availability of mental health services now! Change.org: sign the petition
  • Zichronam Lirracha: For their memory shall be a blessing. Jewish Council for Public Affairs: sign the petition

[i] The Guardian, Gun homicides and gun ownership listed by country. US edition. Accessed 12/18/12, http://www.guardian.co.uk/news/datablog/2012/jul/22/gun-homicides-ownership-world-list.

[ii] National Vital Statistics Reports, Vol. 60, No. 3, December 29, 2011. Accessed 12/18/12, http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nvsr/nvsr60/nvsr60_03.pdf.  

[iii] Violence Policy Center. States with Higher Gun Ownership and Weak Gun Laws Lead Nation in Gun Deaths, Washington, DC: Violence Policy Center, October 24, 2011. Accessed 12/18/12, http://www.vpc.org/press/1110gundeath.htm.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Canaanite January 16, 2013 at 09:09 PM
If the government starts regulating movies and videogames and media in general, then we as a country may as well be a communist state because any pretense of freedom flies out the window. If parents are stupid enough to let their kids watch violent films or to sit for hours in front of the tv shooting foes virtually, and are surprised that their kids grow up insensitive to actual violence, then it's THEIR fault if their kid grows up to kill people. Those videogames are popular bc parents buy them for their kids, or allow them the freedom to buy them for themselves. They manufacture such videogames and make such movies because people buy them and frequent them. This is a free market, it's as simple as that. Violence is what the people want . . . violence is what the people get.
MAC January 16, 2013 at 09:27 PM
People in CT concerned for self-defense be warned: The majority of gun-related legislation that has been introduced is an affront to our constitutional rights as law-abiding citizens. This unfortunate theme is epitomized in Senate Bill 122, introduced by Senator Edward Meyer (D-12). SB 122 seeks to prohibit the purchase, sale, donation, transportation, possession and use of any firearm except one designed to fire a ^^single round^^!! If enacted, SB 122 will only render law-abiding citizens and their families as defenseless victims. Firearms designed to fire more than a single round are overwhelmingly the most commonly owned firearms for self-defense and home protection, recreational and competitive target shooting, marksmanship training, and/or hunting. This arbitrary and unconstitutional legislation will only victimize law-abiding citizens in Connecticut, and leave them vulnerable to the criminal who will never comply with a gun control law to only possess a firearm that only fires a single round. Please contact your state legislators (ct.gov--click on "legislature") and encourage them to stand up for freedom and protect your Right to Keep and Bear Arms this legislative session. SB 122 is just one of dozens of misguided anti-gun bills that have been introduced that will penalize only law-abiding citizens in Connecticut. Note that Sen. Meyer has also introduced a bill to legalize "Assisted Suicide"!! Typical heartless liberal insanity--both of these!
Sandra January 16, 2013 at 09:41 PM
Bravo Canaanite! Movies and video games are rated for maturity so how can you blame the movie industry if you allow your child to see inappropriate movies? You buy the video games and want to blame the video store? Why don't you sue McDonald's because you are overweight?
S Tadik January 16, 2013 at 10:19 PM
Here's the text of the bill. http://www.cga.ct.gov/2013/TOB/S/2013SB-00122-R00-SB.htm
Caitlin Mazzola January 16, 2013 at 11:00 PM
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