Christmastime is a season for happiness and a time for making fond memories. My hope for you is that your memories will always be pleasant ones. However, we know that for some, this year’s holiday season will be anything but pleasant. If you have ever lost a family member or even a close friend around Christmastime, most likely you know the sadness and emptiness that the holidays can bring. Personally, I cannot imagine what those parents, families, and friends in Newtown, Connecticut, must be dealing with at this time. I, as do numerous others, express my deepest sympathy to them following their recent losses. As our nation mourns this terribly loss, we add our own thoughts and prayers for the entire community of Newtown.
Since the Newtown tragedy, I have received several calls and letters asking for legislation that would help to prevent this type of tragedy from ever occurring in our state or local communities. Many would like to see armed officers stationed in every school. Others are calling for principals to be allowed to carry guns, as well as some teachers who have their concealed carry permit. Currently, there have been two bills filed in the House dealing with this issue. I am sure there will be other bills to follow, and I will give them my careful consideration.
It is sad that we would even need to consider such legislation as is being requested, but unfortunately would-be killers oftentimes seem to target a gun-free zone, like schools, churches, malls, and theaters—areas where there are lots of people and where there are no weapons being carried. When shootings such as what happened at Newtown occur and the authorities show up with force (weapons), the killer usually takes his life or is killed by an officer, putting an end to the tragedy. But what damage might have already been done?
Some contend that a gun in the right place at the right time could stop a dangerous individual before loss of innocent life occurs in places such as schools, hospitals, churches, malls, etc. Another suggestion that has been made is to use tasers. They say we need to consider that the use of tasers in these locations—in conjunction with guns—might be an effective way to squelch potential threats and verbal or physical assaults on school officials, employees of hospitals (especially emergency room staff), or employees in other public work arenas. There have been numerous reports of verbal and physical assaults on healthcare workers, as well as on utility workers and teachers. Last year we introduced several bills that dealt with assaults on hospital and utility workers and public transit employees.
It has also become apparent that it is time to re-open the debate on mental health. While we are not laying the blame for the recent tragedy solely on mental health issues, it is obvious that those matters played a large part in the events of December 14. I am concerned that some of those who suffer from mental illnesses are not receiving necessary care and help.
In addition, Americans need to examine about why our society has become so violent. We need to ask ourselves if the Hollywood hypocrisy of making violent movies or if those producing video games depicting murder and mayhem must take some responsibility for our nation’s recent tragedies. While some are trying to blame guns for the horrific events we see, Hollywood produces films and game makers create games that promote violent behaviors; however, Hollywood moneymakers are some of the first to stand up and say we need to ban guns and take them out of the hands of law-abiding citizens. All the while, they, and the game makers, make millions on the sale of their violent wares.
We, and all America, need to step back and take an honest look at what our nation’s young, impressionable individuals are watching and doing. Reports tell us that by the age of eighteen the average American has seen approximately 200,000 violent acts on TV, including 40,000 murders. These figures do not take into account violent acts viewed on video games or in movies. We need to ask ourselves if the content of their entertainment mediums are helping or hindering these malleable minds, and how do we handle those individuals who seem to have problems separating fiction from reality.