“Peeloff the partisan war paint,” said President Barack Obama a few days ago, and I couldn’t agree more. The last thing we need is division when it is quite obvious that the opposite is required for the good of all and quite possibly is the point of all of the disasters of late.
I never fit into the black and whiteness of the blue or red parties anyway. I guess I’m part of a purple political party. A patriotic peace activist, I support veterans and military spending, but prefer it be spent on servicemen and women’s salaries, so we don’t have enlisted families who earn so little they are eligible for welfare. At the same time, yes, I wish for the return of all troops, for the end of war, and for the National Guard to be here doing what it was created to do for our country.
I have hippie-ish qualities such as a passion for socially responsible living, but I usually wear makeup and sometimes high heels while I am burning incense and sage. I also enjoy being barefoot on the beach listening to drumming with a hula hoop spinning around me, which does not make me a vegetarian, as was assumed recently. I love pigs and also bacon; I love deer and also quite a few hunters.
I strongly believe in the separation of church and state, and religious freedom without taboos of unorganized practices such as Paganism, an earth-based religion that does not worship Satan. I am in favor of the legalization of marijuana and feel that most pharmaceutical drugs should be illegal.
I tried to wrap my head around the Sandy Hook massacre this week and here’s what I came up with: After an altercation at a school, a 20-year-old, mentally ill man was denied a rifle in Danbury, Conn., due to gun control laws that required a 14-day waiting period and background check. This did not stop him from having several guns in his possession and using them to kill 20 innocent children and 6 adults in that same school. Why then, is gun control the loudest discussion I hear?
Yes, control over the hands an assault weapon lands in makes sense, but many laws already exist and are not enforced, or simply do not work for criminals who, by definition, do not usually obey the law or apply for a permit or license. In some communities, heightened gun control has led to more than a 30-percent increase in gun violence, as well as a rise in smuggling of cheap machine guns.
I was a pre-kindergarten teacher in what seems like another life, and I cannot begin to imagine the horror of a gunman in a school. In another former career, I worked with those who had mental illness, among them a friendly man with pyromania who told me he felt like burning the building down. I have also known those who struggle with mental illness, and studied psychology as a concentration in college. This is the issue I would like to hear more about.
With skyrocketing rates of suicide among both civilians and military members, stigmas need to be removed and resources found to identify and help those who desperately need it. Domestic incidents reported to the police and school psychologists are a great starting point. With some told by police that their mentally ill family member must be charged with a crime in order to receive “assistance,” it’s clear that programs and support for families are a necessity too.
Obama Care should address mental well-being, especially personality disorders, which afflict about half of all psychiatric patients and are characterized by deviant social behavior, ineffective coping skills, extreme anxiety, distress, or depression, usually traced to childhood or early adulthood.
It should be as easy to see a psychiatrist as it is to buy a gun. I have heard too many stories of suicidal people, including military members with post-traumatic stress disorder, who had to wait over a month for a visit.
Law-abiding citizens who use guns responsibly shouldn’t suffer, but they should exercise common sense. First off and most important, keep them locked up, whether there are kids in the house or not.
As for school security, the “American Legion Creed” preamble almost reads as a job description, and many other former military members of all ages would qualify and appreciate the job.
Carrie Ann Salvi is a reporter for The Star.