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Social Problems

When a community is suffering, taking action can help regain a sense of control and support the healing process.

Social problems. They are my reason for blogging on Patch: to identify a social problem and then invite our community to get involved and be part of a solution. Sadly, the social problem facing our community – rather, our country, right now needs no introduction. The tragic events that took place at Sandy Hook Elementary School on Friday morning will forever change the conversation.

When faced with adversity my method of coping is mobilization. What can I do to regain a sense of control? This week we are all left to ponder this question. How can we channel our heartache and anger into action? Is it because Newtown is so close to home that we are compelled to act? I don’t think so – the country is engaged in discussion like never before.   

There are many questions, and many facets to consider. But two areas scream for attention: how our society deals with mental illness and guns.

Mental Illness:
We face a mental health crisis in this country. Budgets are cut, and with the loss of funding go vital services. There is a disparity between the way insurance companies view general healthcare and behavioral health services; this allows payers to limit services for those seeking help for a mental illness. They impose limits on how much providers can be reimbursed too, so in in this part of the country most therapists don’t accept any insurance. People who have a mental illness are stigmatized, and this deters many from accessing services. Parents who seek help for their troubled children are chastised if medication is part of the treatment.

There are no easy answers. Let’s talk, listen and learn from each other. We need to take a close look at how our society deals with people who have a disease of the brain – a chemical imbalance. It will take work, but we can change the culture, and improve the care of those experiencing a mental illness.

Leadership from the National Alliance for Mental Illness (NAMI) Connecticut is going “on the road” to talk with residents throughout the state. This is an opportunity for community members to learn about what is happening in Connecticut to address the needs of those with mental illness, and to get involved on a grass roots level. Local NAMI chapters will host the meetings; a schedule can be found on NAMI CT’s calendar. Some dates are already scheduled (below), and more will be:

  • Fairfield NAMI: January 2, 2013, 7:30-9:00 pm. This meeting’s agenda includes a discussion of NAMI’s legislative priorities for 2013. More about the meeting is here.
  • Stamford/Greenwich NAMI: January 16, 2013. More info here.
  • NAMI Southeast (Norwich): February 6, 2013. More info here.
  • NAMI Windsor Locks (East Windsor): February 10, 2013. More info here.


Guns:
Let’s consider the facts. The Swiss-based Small Arms Survey found that in 2007 the United States had the highest gun ownership rate in the world: 88 guns per 100 people, or 270 million altogether.[i] When countries experiencing high murder rates by drug cartels (Mexico, Venezuela, Colombia and Brazil) were excluded, the survey reported that the US has the highest rate of homicide by guns. Firearms killed 31,347 people in 2009 – that is 17.7% of all injury deaths that year.[ii]

Gun control helps. The states with high gun ownership and weak gun laws experienced the most gun deaths.[iii] No matter how “gun enthusiasts” may spin it, the numbers speak for themselves: tougher gun laws save lives.

What justification is there for civilians to own military style weapons and high capacity magazines? What rational person would deny the importance of background checks and gun registration? When Congress resumes session in January, Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-California) intends to introduce a bill to renew the ban on assault weapons. These are common sense measures. 

The gun lobby is powerful. Suggestions to arm teachers and implement high-tech security features in our schools and public areas are based on the premise that the current state of gun ownership and (lack of) regulation is acceptable. No longer can our society acquiesce to gun violence perpetrated against the innocent. This is our call to be part of the solution. The nation is ready – now is the time for action.

Contact government officials:
Let your elected leaders know what you think. Connecticut Against Gun Violence, www.CAGV.org, is leading the charge on gun control in the state. They are working with Connecticut legislators and on January 9th a Bill will be introduced to enhance gun safety. Click on the “Legislative Action Center” on the right side of their home page, under Take Action. Once you enter your home address this link will connect you to your local, state and federal representatives in government. Since Senator-elect Chris Murphy hasn’t taken office yet, he is not included. He can be reached here, at his Congressional office. After he takes his senatorial seat that link will close and he will be listed on the CAGV’s Legislative Action Center too.

Other organizations that are actively pursuing gun control:


Several on-line petitions are circulating:

  • Immediately address the issue of gun control through the introduction of legislation in Congress. We the People: sign the petition
  • Gun Control. Now. Sign On (an arm of Move On): sign the petition
  • Increase the availability of mental health services now! Change.org: sign the petition
  • Zichronam Lirracha: For their memory shall be a blessing. Jewish Council for Public Affairs: sign the petition

[i] The Guardian, Gun homicides and gun ownership listed by country. US edition. Accessed 12/18/12, http://www.guardian.co.uk/news/datablog/2012/jul/22/gun-homicides-ownership-world-list.

[ii] National Vital Statistics Reports, Vol. 60, No. 3, December 29, 2011. Accessed 12/18/12, http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nvsr/nvsr60/nvsr60_03.pdf.  

[iii] Violence Policy Center. States with Higher Gun Ownership and Weak Gun Laws Lead Nation in Gun Deaths, Washington, DC: Violence Policy Center, October 24, 2011. Accessed 12/18/12, http://www.vpc.org/press/1110gundeath.htm.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Alethiologist January 16, 2013 at 04:24 AM
Lanza lived in the lower area of their home in essentially 2 rooms, one of which was his bedroom. The second room was like his personal den...various stuff he would use like a TV, video stuff, homework desk etc AND that is also where his mother stored her weapons, unlocked and easily accessible! Does Cuomo's new law require weapons be secured by the registered owner?
Canaanite January 16, 2013 at 04:26 AM
AZ, yes, it's easy to hurl insults isn't it? Just as easy to do some research and learn the facts.
Alethiologist January 16, 2013 at 04:31 AM
What specific recommendations do you have in mind Brian?
Alethiologist January 16, 2013 at 04:32 AM
PL Huh?
AZ January 16, 2013 at 04:47 AM
What you said was the Chinese did these things. Or did you mean something else. Is it part of Chinese society. Perhaps it is something in their DNA. I know many Chinese and I don't think they "take people to the back of the courthouse after sentencing and shoot them." I also know many Chinese that do no lie to the rest of the world and do not put on shiny happy faces. I hope you were merely trying to point out that there have been instances in China that upon sentencing, criminals are punished without delay. You may not have intended your comments to be racist. In reality, your remarks are racist.
S Tadik January 16, 2013 at 05:59 AM
STATES’ RIGHTS There is no justification for a national standard for hardware restrictions, excluding artillery, machine guns, rockets, grenades, etc. The highest murder rates occur in high-density cities and victims are approximately 7 times more likely to be black and murdered by blacks. What may be desired by city law enforcement may be completely unnecessary for rural and suburban populations. CT has no business telling Montana what hardware it needs. If you make a stupid mistake in MT and find yourself charged by an angry grizzly, you might need an assault rifle and a 30-round magazine clip. It would be a shame to kill a grizzly unnecessarily, but even the stupid sometimes need help. State legislatures should empower their municipalities to pass the laws they need. The problem is the human using the gun. Pass laws which let law-abiding citizens of every race and every location adopt appropriate laws that protect themselves and their kids. A cookie-cutter, one-fits-all national law won’t work except for one remedy. The best chance for sensible compromise is probably universal gun sale background checks. The time of the unregulated gun show is past.
Steve January 16, 2013 at 09:16 AM
You can 'what if' it do death. Should all people be considered guilty until proven innocent? Here's a stat for you, people who go thru the process of obtaining a permit to carry a pistol are convicted of crimes 4-5x less often than the average citizen. http://www.assaultweapon.info/ http://gunfacts.info/
Steve January 16, 2013 at 09:18 AM
Good grief AZ, can you not understand he is criticizing the communist Chinese government, not the Chinese people at large? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Capital_punishment_in_the_People%27s_Republic_of_China
Steve January 16, 2013 at 09:21 AM
You can look at examples from Australia & Canada. Suicides in Australia begin to decline (slightly) 2 years prior to the enactment of their compensated confiscation. There was a large change in method for a few years, but reports are now that firearm suicides have begun to rise again. A study by Gary Mauser on Canada found no change in suicide rates due to gun laws. http://www.gunfacts.info/
Steve January 16, 2013 at 09:27 AM
Its not the 'gun fetish' that's killing people, its gangs & drug dealers that commit the majority of murders in our country. The adult person who has never committed a crime (note there is a difference between crime & infraction in addition to misdemeanor & felony) that snaps is a much rarer occurrence. This is what makes them newsworthy. The fact that Chicago had over 500 murders in 2012 despite complete bans on most firearms & gets little coverage shows that.
Steve January 16, 2013 at 09:28 AM
Forgot to include a link: http://www.guncite.com/gun_control_gcgvmurd.html
R. Ludlowe January 16, 2013 at 10:28 AM
if you landed on Earth from another planet and listened to the arguments, I still have to think that you'd say "wait a minute... why not just restrict who can buy these things, and pass laws around where they are kept? If people use them for sport, then perhaps they should keep them at regulated gun clubs, etc. By the way, why DO you American earthlings need assault rifles in the first place if hardly any of the other humans do?" I am sure that the second amendment itself would be confusing to them-- unless of course those aliens came here to eat us in which case having guns would be a good idea.
Brian January 16, 2013 at 11:45 AM
@Jlo, why don't you keep them locked and away now? Who are you really trying to protect? Must be awful walking around feeling a need to carry. But that's your "choice", right?
BCT January 16, 2013 at 12:06 PM
Self defense is a basic human right. No state should be able to take away that most basic and fundamental right. Now there are those who trust the state to protect them and voluntarily give up that protection and defense to the police. I still do. I'm not a gun owner, never have been and hope never to be but if I feel it is necessary to protect my family, I want the choice to exercise that basic right to self defense. If the government continues to restrict that choice, I will consider actually becoming a first time owner. The vast majority of gun violence happens between those who are already criminals using illegal guns. If the police do their job, fine, but when they do not or cannot, it's up to the individual and no state can take away the basic human right to self defense.
AZ January 16, 2013 at 01:13 PM
how white of you. i was just shucking and jiving.
Eddie D January 16, 2013 at 02:33 PM
AZ cut all the racist crap out, fact is fact, the vast majority of violent crimes are committed by young black males. Look it up!
S Tadik January 16, 2013 at 04:37 PM
EFFECTIVE LOCAL LAWS While it is true that most firearms murders are committed by black murderers, most of their victims are also black. Too often, the victims are little black kids or other law-abiding black citizens and mostly in high-density cities. We should allow people in these circumstances to ask for laws as strict as they want without violating the 2nd amendment. The same strict laws may not be necessary or desired in other communities. Those other communities should be able to get the laws they want. We could eliminate a lot of contentious debate if we went local with our laws. The communities should decide about the freedom vs. security tradeoffs, not some Nanny in Chief in Washington or in state capitals, except for ownership restrictions on mental condition and serious criminal history. If you want the FBI’s breakdown of murderers and victims by race and gender, check out this link: http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/cjis/ucr/crime-in-the-u.s/2011/crime-in-the-u.s.-2011/tables/expanded-homicide-data-table-6 It’s encouraging to see the beginning of more reasoned thought on this subject. Let’s enact laws that actually work and where they are needed and protect all races.
mark January 16, 2013 at 05:04 PM
Adam wake up because more and more people are being killed every day itsnot the hunters were going after. its much cheaper and easier to go after automatic weapons than to deal with mental health issues. Mental health issues where do we stop, do we take under fed children /children with parents on drugs or maybe children who have children as parents out there homes. lets tell like it is. Mental Health to big of a problem.we always take the easy way out
Alethiologist January 16, 2013 at 05:42 PM
Despite discussions earlier about addressing the pervasive violence in the entertainment and video game industries, the president's plan does not appear to address those issues.
Canaanite January 16, 2013 at 08:09 PM
AZ, either you thrive on being argumentative, or you are truly thick - or it's possible you're just a jerk. It's obvious that I was referring to the GOVERNMENT. I said they take you behind the courthouse after sentencing to shoot you . . . CIVILIANS do not sentence anyone in China and do not have access to guns at all - thus, the government is who carries these things out. CIVILIANS do not own any US debt, so surely I was talking about the GOVERNMENT. This info has been all over media for the last 2-3 years, so it's hardly an obscure fact. "They" lie to the rest of the world . . . yes, that would be the government, as the civilians of China have no voice with which to communicate with the rest of the world. I don't think one other person here misunderstood what I was saying. And if you think I am a racist, I really couldn't care less. You don't know a damn thing about me.
Canaanite January 16, 2013 at 08:13 PM
R.Ludlowe, we have regulation . . . there are laws on the books. A huge issue is lack of enforcement.
Canaanite January 16, 2013 at 08:51 PM
Vegan, you live in la-la land . . . some ethereal idealist haze which will never materialize. Why can't we be more like Switzerland . . . because we're not Switzerland, that's why. This is America, and we ARE entitled to have guns - for self protection, target shooting, hunting. The law of the land says so . . . the 2nd Amendment is the law. So you bet there is a steadfast conviction about upholding that right, unfettered from regulations. To equate religious beliefs to belief in the 2nd Amendment is not only not apples to oranges, it's apples to carrots.
Canaanite January 16, 2013 at 08:56 PM
What do you mean it's a question of what is "acceptable" self defense? (And who would regulate what is acceptable anyway??) IF YOUR LIFE IS ON THE LINE, as it is for the concept of "self defense" to actually be such, then any and all means are acceptable if it means you or your family gets to continue living.
Esprit de Corps January 16, 2013 at 08:58 PM
The great thing about the US is everyone is allowed to get offended and outraged any time they want for any reason whatsoever. As irrational as it seems, I myself have sworn at inanimate objects which offend and outrage me regardless of whether the object is at fault. My understanding of anthropology is limited but I don't know that Chinese is a race but the subject is getting blurred.
Canaanite January 16, 2013 at 09:02 PM
rac·ism/ˈreɪ sɪz əm/ Show Spelled [rey-siz-uh m] Show IPA noun 1. a belief or doctrine that inherent differences among the various human races determine cultural or individual achievement, usually involving the idea that one's own race is superior and has the right to rule others. 2. a policy, system of government, etc., based upon or fostering such a doctrine; discrimination. 3. hatred or intolerance of another race or other races. My comments do not embody any of these points. To anyone with an ounce of common sense, it's obvious I meant the government - per my earlier comments to your accusation above. But either way, your opinion of me means *nothing* so if it makes you feel better/superior/sanctimonious, etc. then accuse away. Couldn't care less.
Canaanite January 16, 2013 at 09:09 PM
If the government starts regulating movies and videogames and media in general, then we as a country may as well be a communist state because any pretense of freedom flies out the window. If parents are stupid enough to let their kids watch violent films or to sit for hours in front of the tv shooting foes virtually, and are surprised that their kids grow up insensitive to actual violence, then it's THEIR fault if their kid grows up to kill people. Those videogames are popular bc parents buy them for their kids, or allow them the freedom to buy them for themselves. They manufacture such videogames and make such movies because people buy them and frequent them. This is a free market, it's as simple as that. Violence is what the people want . . . violence is what the people get.
MAC January 16, 2013 at 09:27 PM
People in CT concerned for self-defense be warned: The majority of gun-related legislation that has been introduced is an affront to our constitutional rights as law-abiding citizens. This unfortunate theme is epitomized in Senate Bill 122, introduced by Senator Edward Meyer (D-12). SB 122 seeks to prohibit the purchase, sale, donation, transportation, possession and use of any firearm except one designed to fire a ^^single round^^!! If enacted, SB 122 will only render law-abiding citizens and their families as defenseless victims. Firearms designed to fire more than a single round are overwhelmingly the most commonly owned firearms for self-defense and home protection, recreational and competitive target shooting, marksmanship training, and/or hunting. This arbitrary and unconstitutional legislation will only victimize law-abiding citizens in Connecticut, and leave them vulnerable to the criminal who will never comply with a gun control law to only possess a firearm that only fires a single round. Please contact your state legislators (ct.gov--click on "legislature") and encourage them to stand up for freedom and protect your Right to Keep and Bear Arms this legislative session. SB 122 is just one of dozens of misguided anti-gun bills that have been introduced that will penalize only law-abiding citizens in Connecticut. Note that Sen. Meyer has also introduced a bill to legalize "Assisted Suicide"!! Typical heartless liberal insanity--both of these!
Sandra January 16, 2013 at 09:41 PM
Bravo Canaanite! Movies and video games are rated for maturity so how can you blame the movie industry if you allow your child to see inappropriate movies? You buy the video games and want to blame the video store? Why don't you sue McDonald's because you are overweight?
S Tadik January 16, 2013 at 10:19 PM
Here's the text of the bill. http://www.cga.ct.gov/2013/TOB/S/2013SB-00122-R00-SB.htm
Caitlin Mazzola (Editor) January 16, 2013 at 11:00 PM
Some comments have been removed because they violate the Patch Terms of Use, which may be found here: http://fairfield.patch.com/terms

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