Gun Control, Mental Illness, Autism, and Our Culture of Violence

I had a long, difficult weekend.  The murder of innocents that took place 2 states away is playing havoc with people’s feeling and reactions, and the damage is adding up.

Perhaps that’s not a bad thing.  I spent the weekend going about my life, but in between, pulling up and reading more articles. This actually helped me bear my own grief.

I had a few more thoughts and some really excellent articles to share.  First, I do think we try to find solution to this problem of violence in our culture, and I don’t think ONE solution is the answer.  We need a coordinated effort to pull this off.  Here are my thoughts on some of the stumbling blocks, and articles that intrigued me.

man with gun

We glamorize this…

Gun Control
I’m tired of this debate.  I’m tired of having common sense, safety of the public laws defended by, “You can’t take my guns!” and “There are heroes out there, if only they were armed!” and, the one that to me is the epitome of rash thinking, “We need to arm all our teachers!”

We do?  Really??  Because I played that scenario out in my head and it does not end well.  Having children in school, with a gun in every classroom? Are they locked away, and if so, how will that help? And if not, what, are the teachers packing guns on their body? If so, do you not think a student could take get that gun away?  What about teachers who are pacifists or Buddhists or just plain hate guns?   This kind of nonsensical thinking has locked  us into our mythology about violence: that a little bit of it is a good thing.  And we glorify it, glamorize it, with amazingly violent games for teens and shows like my beloved “The Walking Dead”?  (Because anyone can survive the zombie apocalypse?  Baloney.  The main character is a COP.)  It’s ridiculous to think anyone can pick up a gun and be a hero.  Some can, but the majority of us can’t.

But alas, the gun lobbies in this country are strong.  They’ve painted a picture of President Obama as anti-gun, when in fact, he did NOTHING after the last massacre and under his watch, 99 laws have been passed in the last 3 years making gun easier to get or conceal or use.  Guns in bars? Check.  Guns at work? Check. Guns in church?  Check.  Guns in school is just the next logical step.


Mental breakdown

We ignore this…

Mental Health
So last night we were driving home and my  husband and I started to discuss current gun laws.  He said, “I shouldn’t be able to get a gun.”  I bucked.  “What?  YOU?  I’d totally trust you with a gun.”  (Note to readers, I’m a pacifist. There will NEVER be a gun in my house.)  Then I thought for a moment.

My husband had a long battle removing himself from a prescription drug that he believed had killed his emotions.  He used to supplements to help and I helped find him biomed resources.  His doctor gave him the wink/nudge bit, supporting his decision while being coy enough to avoid any lawsuits.  And, it was really difficult BUT he made it through.  It took months and months, and lots of pain – physical and emotional.  I’ve never been so proud of it as I was that day he suffered and longed for a dose but it had been 2 weeks and he wasn’t going back.  And it all worked out.

But.  There was that one day, and this day came long after he’d been off it.  A day of depression.  Depression like he’d NEVER felt before.  A black feeling that scared the socks off of him.  I prayed like crazy that day.  Back in the car yesterday, I remembered that and brought it up.  “That day, just that one day…you may not have been able to handle a gun.  Oh my God, you’re right.”

If you’ve never seen what strong psychological problems can do to a person or a youth, you can be more casual about our mental health system, the freedom with which doctors prescribe potent medications, and even gun control.  Everyone has rights, and we, our kids, have a right to medical care that prevents this sort of thing from happening.

The truth of the matter is that in this day and age, we should consider what states do very carefully with healthcare for mental and psychological problems.  I’m only recommending one article, because it will move you to your core and give you a sense of the kind of dangers that  some parents face  We need to explain while so many kids are having these psychological problems and we need a better solution for mental health problems than “just toss ’em in prison”.

Please read “I am Adam Lanza’s Mother” by Liza Long.

autism aspergers

We blame and misunderstand this…

Can we please leave autism out of this?  To date, I have not yet seen a credible report that Adam Lanza, who perpetrated these murders, had autism or Asperger’s.  Obviously, something was wrong.  We will never know the details with complete accuracy.  Even if he was on the autism spectrum, that does not explain nor did it cause his violent outbreak.  We will only eventually know what the doctors and untrustworthy news outlets release.  And while autism can cause aggressive outbursts, please do not blame it for this crime.  Do not build a wall of prejudice and hatred against my child and my family.

Autism is a very complex problem, and every person who has it is affected differently, and reacts to it differently.  I personally believe that it is a medical condition that is at least partly treatable because I’ve seen that solutions heal children.  Zoe is a sweet, loving girl.  She makes eye contact with me and her family quite often, is making her first attempt at playing with other children, regularly plays with her family, and loves nothing more than cuddling with Mom, Dad, Grandma, and certain people she gravitates toward. She has a deep, infectious giggle, can play with dolls appropriately, and is learning to draw.  She has an amazing memory and can spell well.  And she has greatly reduced both outwardly and self-aggressive behaviors and learned to control her temper.  This has been through time, therapy, nutrition, patience, prayer, inclusion, and the great love that we have for her.  We will never put her on psychotropic medications.  Not every child with every disorder has this much opportunity or care.  We are blessed in finances and that I was able to discover biomedical treatments, and that I’ve seen firsthand the damage  heavy medications can do and the physical addictions they form.  We live a content, happy life, are able as a family to go out and participate in fun events.

I’m going to refer you to the Thinking Mom’s Revolution…again.  This group of moms are fighting the epidemic – yea, I said “epidemic” – of autism and healing their children. Poke around and see the stories of hope, healing, and anger against an establishment that seeks to medicate, marginalize, and mistreat our children.  I’m also sharing this news article: This little boy with autism died in his aide’s arms. I am glad he had that comfort in his last moments.  Let us remember how amazing those aides can be for our little ones with special needs, and work to support their time and hours – a post for another day, but true funding we should not cut.

funeral casket

Which leads to this…

A Culture of Violence
Where do we go from here?  Do we give in and run out to get our kids “Assassin’s Creed 3”?  We don’t even flinch anymore that one of the most popular video games on the market has the word “assassin” in it.  We went from a time of cowboy movies having moderate violence and immortalizing John Wayne to movies and TV shoes with violence ALL THE TIME.  To cheer up this weekend, we rented “The Watch” with Ben Stiller, and it was funny, but I could not believe the amount of violence IN A COMEDY.  Even shows I love like “Fringe” make me cringe on a regular basis.  WHAT the heck, people?  Have we come to this, that we cannot have 2 hours of entertainment without blood, guts, massacre, decimation, murder, rape, violence?

I don’t know what the answer is.  We’ve surely made mistakes in my home, since my husband is a gamer, and we are fans of some violent shows.  (Although I still don’t really “get” “Dexter.”)  I believe we are cheating and desensitizing our children.  I have no easy solutions here but I honestly believe we can have more quality entertainment that is not deluged with copious amounts of violence.

I also think we need to stop the hating.  That will go a long way.  You all need to respect your fellow man, and know that  he or she is totally fallible, and more often than not, wrong.  Then you need to admit that you are exactly the same.

Final Comments
I believe our country can meet this challenge with grace, dignity, and love. I was comforted and encouraged by the president’s remarks at an interfaith vigil on Sunday in Newtown, CT.  He believes we can help this issues and I’m interested to see what exactly he will do about it.

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Blog March

…But you can do this.

Take Action if you want to change gun laws…
1. EVERYONE can: Sign the petition at We the People ( demand stricter gun control in the United States.

2. Bloggers can: Post this on your blog and add your own reaction and voice in our virtual blog march now through January 14th 2013.  Please be sensitive to the victims of this tragedy, and check your sources if you’re quoting what did or didn’t happen.

3. If you’re not a blogger: Read though the participating blogs to hear thoughts, perspectives, and stories from moms across the country. Comments on what you read. Share your stories and opinions.

4. EVERYONE can: Find out if your state has strong gun laws to prevent gun violence:

5. EVERYONE can: Find out your local U.S Congress Representatives’ voting and your two U.S. Senators’ stance on gun violence and contact your local representatives to demand change and support for stricter gun controls on assault weapons.

6. EVERYONE can: Contact your Representative in the U.S. Congress and your two U.S. Senators and urge them to increase funding for the Community Mental Health Services Block Grant by $100 million in the fiscal year Labor, HHS, Education and Related Agencies Appropriations Bill.

7. Tweet: Tell @BarackObama that you #DemandAPlan to end gun violence in America. #Newtown

8. Post: Now is the Time To Demand a Plan to End Gun Violence on your facebook wall.

9. MARCH: If you’re in Pennsylvania, join other Pennsylvania moms on January 14th as they head to Harrisburg, PA to meet with state officials. In other states, you can organize a visit to your own state capitol on January 14th to meet with your local representatives and make your voice heard.

More Resources:

On Gun Control/Reform:

On Increased Support for Mental Health Funding: