This post is so incredibly hard for me to write. On the day that my sister went into labor, a twenty year old man walked into an elementary school in Connecticut and opened fire. He killed twenty children, ages six and seven, along with six adults.
As always with these terrible events, amazing stories of heroism and selflessness emerge. Teacher Victoria Soto died shielding her students with her body. A custodian ran through the halls to make sure the classroom doors were locked from the inside.
What makes me sad coming out of this is that now so many people are focused on changing gun control. Guns did not kill those babies, a man with serious mental issues did. Instead of trying to take guns away, we should be focusing on identifying and helping those with mental problems. People in their right mind don’t just walk out and shoot people in a movie theater, a mall, or a classroom. In fact, that very same day a man in China attacked twenty-two school children with a knife as they arrived for school. If someone wants to do something bad, they’ll find a way, whether it’s with guns, knives, bombs, or their bare hands. Even if we do better screening people before they can buy guns, those who want to get one will do so through other ways such as theft, the black market, etc.
I think the real problem here is our mental health care system. Instead of working on identifying mental health issues and treating them the same way we treat asthma, allergies, cancer, we create a stigma around them. We make it shameful and scary. We call them weird or loners. Our society needs to take a gigantic step forward and start taking a deeper look at mental illness. Instead of focusing on the tools, we need to focus on the actual problem.
I hope that some day we can live in a world where our children are safe at school, where teachers don’t have to sacrifice their lives to keep their classrooms safe. As I held my newborn niece, I thought about those twenty little children whose parents wouldn’t get to hold them that night. I hope our country wakes up and makes some big changes.