Thoughts and prayers aren't working. Policy and CHANGE must start now.

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Thoughts and prayers aren't working. Policy and change must start now.

"Adults have failed us. Everyday, we students walk into school with the promise of an education without threat of violence. However, it has become increasingly clear that hallways of schools across America are no longer a guaranteed safe haven. Whether it's an elementary school in small-town Connecticut or a high school in Florida, it's become apparent that school shootings are becoming an expected part of American life. Since 2013, there have been 291 school shootings, with 18 of them happening in 2018 alone. We simply ask how many shootings will it take, how many innocent children have to die, until adults decide we, as our nation's children, are more important than our nation's guns. Therefore, we ask our fellow students to take it upon ourselves to stand up as our adults remain sitting. We demand change.

It's not a matter of if anymore, it's a matter of when we will be affected.  

Students For Gun Legislation" 

 

If the president (along with the rest of the country) would move past the politics and the ideology and work with Congress to enact real measures to prevent gun violence, I’m confident he would find a willing group of individuals with whom to work. We CAN have common sense gun reforms that keep weapons out of the hands of criminals and the violently unstable while still respecting responsible gun owners. The stakes are too high and the costs are too dear and we need to take a stand not only for the future, but for the ones who we lost along the way because of the senseless gun violence in this country. Why not at least TRY to make a change? I know that the people of this country must not love their guns more than they love their children… we need to take a stand, and that stand starts here. We should define conditions and implement regulations to prevent prohibited persons from possessing firearms. The age for which a person can possess a firearm should be equivalent to the age of a person who can legally consume alcohol (unless actively apart of the military or another occupation that requires them to do so.) After all, that is the age the brain is fully grown, right? It should also be mandatory that there is a license for every gun, and it must be renewed annually. There should also be an increase in the license fee to cover the real cost of policing a more rigorous system so there is no subsidy from the taxpayer. We should also lift the secrecy about gun ownership, and make it possible for certain professionals and members of the public to find out who has a license and for what purpose. There should also be a National Gun Hotline for those wishing to record their concerns about a gun owner. This should be a well-advertised free phone line for those concerned about their own or another’s safety or the behavior or well-being of a gun owner. There should be refusal or revocation of a gun license where there is evidence of domestic violence, drug or alcohol abuse, or misuse of a gun; when a relevant misdemeanor has been committed. There should be mandatory requests for information from general practitioners when a patient applies for a gun license and permanent flagging of general practitioner records of Firearms Certificate Holders. There also needs to be mandatory private and discrete notification to former and present partners of new and repeat applicants. (Evidence from Canada and Australia shows that gun-related domestic violence has decreased as the legal frameworks on gun licensing and domestic violence have become harmonized.)

However, this is not only about gun control (policies,) this is also heavily about mental illness. Mental health is often a big problem underlying these tragedies and the administration’s strategy on gun control has essentially pushed the issue of mental health to the wayside. No, not all people with serious mental illness should be considered dangerous. I myself suffer from mental illness and am a prime example of this. No, mass shootings by people with serious mental illness do not represent the most significant relationship between gun violence and mental illness. No, gun laws focusing on people with mental illness or with a psychiatric diagnosis cannot effectively prevent mass shootings. BUT that does not mean that we cannot help or disregard people with mental illnesses, especially when weapons are brought into the picture. Had some of these shooters been correctly and successfully helped in the past, we may not be in the extremely unfortunate situation we as a society are in today. Some suggested interventions could be as small as increasing resources to provide enhanced education, beginning in elementary school, with a focus on constructive coping skills for anger and conflict resolution, mental health, and mental wellness education. Institutions and communities could and should develop specialized forensic threat assessment teams to evaluate third-party reports of potential dangerousness. Public health educational campaigns should emphasize the need for third-party reporting of intent or concerning warning behaviors to law enforcement. Policies and laws should focus on those individuals whose behaviors identify them as having increased risk for committing gun violence, rather than on broad categories such as mental illness or psychiatric diagnoses. There are many things we “could” do, and there are many things we can argue about and talk about, but we are long past that point. It is time to call this what it really is… a national crisis. I firmly believe that we must work (together) to prevent these unspeakable acts of violence. Will you join me while I move forward with this movement?



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