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Gun Violence - Solutions Now!

Since April 20, 1999 when Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold shot up Columbine High school in Jefferson County, Colorado thirty-one other major mass gun shootings have occurred. During that same time frame only 14 similar events occurred in the entire rest of the world. Gun Violence is epidemic in the United States and the first message out of the White House again was “Now is not the time to talk about gun control.”

We need to discuss our options.

  • Enhance mental health services
  • Perform background checks on all gun purchases
  • Limit the size of ammunition clips
  • Ban semi-automatic weapons
  • Ban Assault Weapons
  • Put more gun-carrying officers in schools
  • Train and Arm teachers

Now IS the time to talk about SOLUTIONS to this epidemic. We know the semantics of “gun control” is instantaneously polarizing. We cannot find solutions to this problem if we go to instantaneous polarization. We cannot find a solution without talking as if we are working toward the goal of ending this Violence.  We must stay focused on the goal of reducing violence.

Arming teachers is not an American ideal. We live in a better country that this. Suggestions of putting more armed government officials in our schools is a bold idea and it will indeed act to make the community “feel” safer, but does it actually make us safer? My first impression is that it will make our schools into metaphorical prisons. So, I must ask, "Do we really want to raise the next generation of our country this way?" I personally think not. The long term effects would be very detrimental to the collective psyche of parents and children.

At the candlelight vigil held at Perry Hall High School last Sunday night, a news reporter asked “What is it you are asking for? What do you want the authorities to do?”

My response to her was that we need to come together as individuals and talk honestly about solutions. Without our community imput politicians and ambitious elected officials are going to promote an agenda that they feel will get them re-elected or elected to another, higher office. Multiple ideas are far better than one idea better from someone we look up to. We need to participate in our government now more than ever. We need to influence this decision. Our communities are at stake. Our lives could be at stake

Blog articles, here and elsewhere, that allow reader input seem to provoke instantaneous polarization. As soon as background checks are suggested, some pipe up with why that soultion wouldn’t work.  Suggest our community limits access to assault weapons and someone else is screaming about taking away his civil rights. My response to that is, “There is a difference between a civil rights and a constitutionally protected right. A unalienable civil right is granted to us in an unchangable way. There are limitations put on the constitutional rights. There are limitations on voting, on free speech, and there are also restrictions placed on owning automatic weapons. Constitutional rights are limited because we voters have the right to change the constitution. And we have more than a few times. What ever happens here will probably be tested at the Supreme Court.

The immediate reaction of many in a position to impact these proposed changes are politicians with partisan agendas. The polarity in these agendas has seemingly little sway at the moment. I am hearing calls for gun ownership restrictions from the Baltimore County Chief of Police, the Baltimore County Executive, our Maryland Governor, our Senator and our President. It feels like a done deal, but I am leery. Will we accomplish anything or will we let this drag out for twenty or thirty more years?

We have had 31 mass gun killings in this country since the Columbine High School mass murder. Yes, it was murder. It was more than a mere gun incident. The tragic mass murder that happened in the Newtown Connecticut elementary school was the straw that broke the “no you can’t” camel’s back. Hundreds of angry citizens marched on the headquarters of the National Rifle Association earlier this week chanting "Shame on the NRA, Shame on the NRA."

Its time for a new solution, We need an assault weapons ban in this country. We need to enhance mental health services in this country and we need a total and comprehensive background checks program in this country and we need these changes now.

Call every single elected official that represents you. This will be on the agenda in Washington DC in very short order. This will also be on the legislative agenda in annapolis. That session will be starting in a few weeks. Tell them how you want them to represent you. Its up to you speak up or live with their decisions.

Mark PatroLight Brigade Maryland