Saturday, October 10, 2015

Phrase of the Day: START A NEW ROUTINE

Last week, following the shooting on the campus of Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon, President Obama made a statement regarding the shooting itself and guns in America in general.  In it, the President said:
        " I said just a few months ago, and I said a few months before that, and I
        said each time we see one of these mass shootings, our thoughts and prayers
        are not enough.  It’s not enough.  It does not capture the heartache and grief
        and anger that we should feel.  And it does nothing to prevent this carnage
        from being inflicted someplace else in America -- next week, or a couple of
        months from now."

He added:
        "But we are not the only country on Earth that has people with mental illnesses
        or want to do harm to other people.  We are the only advanced country on
        Earth that sees these kinds of mass shootings every few months."

The President addressed the current state in this country regarding these shootings and their aftermath:
        "Somehow this has become routine.  The reporting is routine.  My response
        here at this podium ends up being routine.  The conversation in the
        aftermath of it.  We've become numb to this.  We talked about this after
        Columbine and Blacksburg, after Tucson, after Newtown, after Aurora,
        after Charleston.  It cannot be this easy for somebody who wants to inflict
        harm on other people to get his or her hands on a gun."

He included Washington's response to these killings:
        "And what’s become routine, of course, is the response of those who oppose
        any kind of common-sense gun legislation.  Right now, I can imagine the press
        releases being cranked out:  We need more guns, they’ll argue.  Fewer gun
        safety laws.  

        "Does anybody really believe that?  There are scores of responsible gun
        owners in this country --they know that's not true.  We know because of the
        polling that says the majority of Americans understand we should be changing
        these laws -- including the majority of responsible, law-abiding gun owners.
        "We spend over a trillion dollars, and pass countless laws, and devote entire
        agencies to preventing terrorist attacks on our soil, and rightfully so.  And yet,
        we have a Congress that explicitly blocks us from even collecting data on how
        we could potentially reduce gun deaths.  How can that be?"

Just yesterday, not one, but two on-campus shootings took place in America, hours apart -- one at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff, and one at Texas Southern University in Houston.

Going back to President Obama's news conference last week, he issued the following challenge to news organizations:
        "I would ask news organizations -- because I won't put these facts forward --
        have news organizations tally up the number of Americans who’ve been
        killed through terrorist attacks over the last decade and the number of
        Americans who’ve been killed by gun violence, and post those side-by-side
        on your news reports.  This won't be information coming from me; it will be
        coming from you."

Now that is a great idea!
The line at the top represents gun deaths in the U.S.
The line at the bottom represents deaths from terror attacks in the U.S.

While terror attacks in the U.S. have decreased 72%, gun attacks have gone up 14%.  In 2004, there were almost 400 times as many gun deaths as there were terror-related deaths.  By 2013, that number shot up to over 1600 times as many.  That means that in ten years (2004-2013), the ratio between gun deaths and terror-related deaths has quadrupled.

It seems to me that where we spend our money, time, and resources needs to change.  Mental health is a huge part of this problem as is access to guns; it is not either/or.  It is not a case of responsible and mentally-stable people going around killing people.  Why responsible gun owners and organizations that claim to support responsible gun ownership refuse to get behind addressing both parts of the issue while clouding the issue by claiming the government is out to take away everyone's gun is beyond my comprehension.  (Okay, it's not really beyond my comprehension ... it's that very clouding of the issue that compounds and extends the problem.)

I do not often use memes to make a point, but I feel the one below is germane and succinct while saying so much:
Mental health care in the United States is, of course, a huge problem unto itself.  In light of these mass shootings, however, care and access are unequivocally intertwined.

I would suggest that President Obama got it right about his observation of the routine quality surrounding one shooting after another after another.  Language is a part of how we address issues.  One example is our government talking about preventing terror attacks on U.S. soil.  With that in mind, maybe the first step, as far as how we identify the problem, should be this:


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