A new gun approach

To the Editor:

I am deeply saddened by the recent shootings on the UCC campus where so many young people were killed and injured. I cannot imagine the pain those families and the community are experiencing. This is a tragedy of enormous magnitude, and it has energized the fight for stricter gun laws. It is incredibly narrow-minded to believe that guns are the reason for these heinous acts of violence.

What I propose is that we focus on working together to find solutions to the underlying causes that provoke these violent attacks.

Unfortunately, unless we as a society investigate the root cause(s) instead of arguing about the weapon of choice, we will continue to have these types of tragedies taking the lives of our families and friends. The mentally ill with homicidal and/or suicidal tendencies and those who are suffering from addiction are not going to be cured by gun control, nor will the crime rate be decreased by stricter gun laws.

It stands to reason that the mentally ill will choose alternative methods with which to carry out their plans. Those with addiction will choose other weapons to use to hold up our pharmacies and break into our homes. Traditionally, criminals do not purchase weapons legally, and there is a large body of evidence that supports the fact that criminals steal the guns used to commit crimes. New gun laws will not change that.

A more logical and attainable approach would be to establish a group of volunteer experts to focus on identifying ways to increase the availability of mental health services and rehabilitation services to those who are suffering. Over the past seven years, the focus has been on providing affordable health care when one of the most basic challenges always has been the availability of health care for this patient population.

Until we have more mental health facilities and behavioral health care services to care for those in crisis, we will continue to face tragedies with or without stricter gun laws. This is not to say that this group of experts should not look to improve the process in which citizens of this country can exercise the right to own and bear arms. Revision of the gun laws could include denying the privilege to those with increased risk for suicidal and/or homicidal tendencies or those suffering from substance abuse until they have been treated successfully. Make no mistake, the very first the priority should be to provide the necessary resources in which to treat those in need.

The solution to this problem is not to politicize it. By politicizing gun control, our leaders create division among the citizens. The solution to this problem is to humanize it and use this time and energy to work on creating solutions for early recognition of signs and symptoms of mental illness which increases the potential of these types of tragedies, and then to provide access to the care for those in need.

My challenge to our leadership is to assess the situation for the root cause and come up with a diagnosis, create a workable plan with attainable outcomes, be accountable and disseminate the plan to the citizens, implement the plan, then evaluate the outcomes. We need to be accountable to the people of this country and publicize the results and then work to improve the plan as the plan should be fluid and remain a work in progress.

Betsy Corrigan

Bar Harbor


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