February 5, 2013

Gun control begins with mental health care

Letter to the Editor

Gun control. The mere mention of it creates in some the fear of brown-shirted, jack-booted government militia taking away some constitutionally protected privilege.

Although no one has suggested taking away anyone's guns, the mention of regulation turns some into raving lunatics as demonstrated by the recent interview on Piers Morgan.

Fearful gun enthusiasts cry, "guns do not kill people; people kill people" and then ask if we should outlaw any imaginable implement that could conceivably be used to kill.

While it's true almost any object can be used to kill under the right circumstances, guns offer a particularly successful outcome. The immediacy, lethality and ability to kill dozens of people in 10 seconds is a benefit specific to guns.

We can no longer allow the NRA-promoted cries of outrage to intimidate us into silence. This shameful component of our culture needs to be pulled into the light of day and inspected from every angle.

The problem of mass murders, however, does not begin when a person picks up a gun on his way to a school, or theater, or shopping mall. The problem that pushed the would-be killer beyond the brink of sanity, had to have begun months, if not years, before.

I believe we should ban semi-automatic weapons; closely regulate gun and ammunition sales; insist on a background check each and every time someone purchases a gun, no matter where, no matter how, no matter from whom.

If that is all we do, however, we will fail. Guns are low-hanging fruit. We need to examine the root cause of the issue and create a mental health system that ferrets out a person struggling with mental health problems to provide him with support and a road back to health.

Maggie Ricker

Chelsea

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